How to Get a School Grant: New Ways to Raise Funds for Your School

Because of the Internet, fund-raising ideas for schools have exploded in recent years. This blog is primarily about grant writing, but I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know about some other novel ways to raise funds for your school. These ideas are mostly for small projects but they can be used to augment a bigger grant initiative. There's always room for more money, right?

We'll look at four ideas created through community building on the Internet:

There are many more. Let your creativity run wild; for instance, the mattress fundraiser can be other big-ticket items like furniture if you can find a supplier willing to transport the items for sale.

Donors choose has been around for a while; teachers can log in to present a description of a project in their school or classroom that needs funding. Usually the requests are very modest, the contributors to the site are often other teachers or community members who want to give back. One example of a category of giving is a match gift. This works well with existing grant-funded projects. You have a chance to talk about your main funding source and urge people to help you reach your fund raising goal. The postings are free and 70% are funded. The benefit of Donors Choose is clear, it levels the playing field for your school, and projects from wealthy districts receive just as much attention as poorer schools. It becomes an art to construct your project description with compelling text to bring people to your aide. If you want to become a donor yourself, there are many different ways to contribute.

TeachersPayTeachers is a way for you to sell your classroom ideas. Do you have lesson plans, worksheets, and classroom management ideas? You can sell these ideas on the site. Some teachers who have clever ideas have made a great deal of money. Let's say you need a Math Center, there are literally hundreds of plans you can buy. The individual prices are low, about $5.00 for a lesson plan for instance, but if you develop a following, you can make a steady stream of income for your classroom. In their own words:

                "Teachers Pay Teachers ... is a community of millions of educators who come together to share their work, their insights, and their inspiration with one another. We are the first and largest open marketplace where teachers share, sell, and buy original educational resources."

Shop with Scrip: Scrip turns shopping into cash when your teachers and parents use retail gift cards to pay for everyday purchases (like gas and groceries) instead of the usual credit/debit card or other money. There are different levels of earning for the different scrip cards you use. One nice thing about this program is you can use it for long-term fundraising to provide a steady income for your school. Your participants buy gift cards from the Scrip Center; when you use the gift cards, some of the proceeds go back into your school project.

The Basics of a Scrip Program

  • Your members buy retail gift cards through your scrip program at face value.
  • They can choose from nearly 400 national retail stores where they already shop.
  • Your organization buys the gift cards at 1-13% less than face value (depending on the retailer).
  • The difference between face value and what your organization pays equals your organization’s earnings.

You can start with just a few members to see how it works, but many schools find it somewhat addictive, and they've done very well with the proceeds.

Possibly the most fun, the Mattress Fundraiser is a one-day event. The fundraising organization turns your gymnasium into a shopping mecca for people who are looking for new mattresses.  Name Brand mattress sets are discounted 40% - 60% off store prices. Floor samples will be on display for community supporters to test before buying. Profits from the sale go directly to your school. You can expand the program to have a car wash and a bake sale in the parking lot at the same time, multiplying your income.

All the work and coordination is done for you, it's up to you to get the people there. In my town, the High School Band has used this program for several years; they have shiny new instruments to show for it.

The art of fundraising is a skill that can be learned. If you are the designated grant writer for your school, you really should have a separate person or group managing the fund raising piece. It's perfect for PTA's and PTO's. There are also consultants you can hire to do the coordination for you.

Here's a selection of lists for fund raising projects you can launch:

There are hundreds of fundraising websites, blogs, forums and commercial enterprises out there. It's easy to become mired in looking for the solutions that are right for your school. Stick with it though; there is money to be made.

Let me know your stories, I'd love to share them with everyone.


Current Grant Opportunities

Education and Community Grants from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Inc.- Provides philanthropic support to address needs vital to the health of local communities by focusing on educating the workforce for 21st century jobs, economic development and critical human needs.  Several program areas include Jobs: Workforce Development and Education, Scholarships and Student Leaders.

States: All States

Average Amount: $25.00 - $ $100,000.00        

Total Amount: $1,000,000.00 - $160,000,000.00

Address: 401 N. Tryon St. NC1-021-02-20 Charlotte, NC28255

Telephone: 800-218-9946

Website: Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Higher Education

Program Areas: At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Family Services, General Education, Health/PE, Math, Reading, Science/Environmental, Social Studies, Special Education, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Vocational

Deadline: 2/14/2016

Healthy Kids Grants from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation- We seek funding opportunities that allow us to make progress in ensuring all children grow and reach optimal well-being by living in secure families, having access to fresh, local healthy food, physical activity, and access to quality health care.

States: All States

Average Amount: $75,000.00 - $5,000,000.00      

Total Amount: $200,000,000.00

Address: One Michigan Avenue East Battle Creek, MI 49017-4012

Telephone: 269-969-2329


Website: W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Higher Education, Other

Program Areas: At-Risk/Character, Community Involvement/Volunteerism, Family Services, General Education, Health/PE

Deadline: Ongoing