UpMetrics Regional Executive Director and former Perspectives Charter Schools Athletic & Activities Director Vinay Mullick knows what it’s like to manage a comprehensive athletics program on a limited budget — fundraising plays no small part.
Grants can provide a great stream of revenue to athletic departments, but starting the process of writing a grant and meeting grant application deadlines can be cumbersome. Follow the steps below to begin incorporating grant writing into your overall fundraising strategy.
- Determine your needs: Have a good understanding of your funding challenges and what holes you need to fill.
- Understand what grants will fund: Grants do not normally fund generally operating expenses (i.e. transportation, stipends, fees, etc.). Many grants fund facility improvements, special projects, or school-based initiatives tied to a grant’s objective. In many situations, you can tie your current work to a grant’s criteria, but make sure the scope of your ask and the grant criteria are aligned.
- Find a grant that fits your needs: Search for grants via the Internet, talking to colleagues, and following funders on social media. Also, use the list below (at bottom of this post) as a starting point for grants available.
- Develop a stakeholder team: Once a grant is identified, incorporate a few stakeholders to determine the grant’s applicability to your program. This team can include school leadership, grant writer(s), student-athletes, coaches, and community members.
- Create a timeline for grant the application: Grant applications contain many moving parts, and a timeline will help ensure the grant is submitted before the deadline.
- Delegate: Break up components of the grant application amongst the stakeholder team.
- Keep the narrative consistent: Make sure all members of the stakeholder team are on the same page, and are working towards the same goals. Also, always circle back on the grant criteria to ensure your grant application is meeting the correct guidelines.
- Proofread and adhere to the deadline: As the grant application is close to completion ensure it reads professionally (no typos), and you that you are submitting the grant application prior to the deadline.
- Repeat: After you go through your first grant cycle, the second will be much easier. Not at all grant cycles are the same, but there are many areas of overlap—the more grants you apply for the easier the entire process becomes.
Grants can provide a huge benefit to your athletic program. Identification of and applying for grants are the most challenging parts. Once your program becomes a grant recipient and benefits from the funds provided, you’ll get hooked and start thinking through a different lens when it comes to raising funds.
- DonorsChoose.org: A great website for staff members to quickly post mini-grants for team needs. Grants can be funded through crowd sourcing or DonorChoose.org resources.
- Baseball of Tomorrow Fund: The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) is a joint initiative between Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA.) The fund awards grants to organizations involved in the operation of youth baseball and softball programs and facilities.
- NFL Foundation Grassroots Grant: The NFL Foundation Grassroots Program is a partnership of the National Football League Foundation (NFL Foundation) and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to provide non-profit, neighborhood-based organizations with financial and technical assistance to improve the quality, safety, and accessibility of local football fields.
- Good Sports: Good Sports distributes sports equipment, footwear, and apparel to community organizations offering programs to disadvantaged youth helping to lay the foundation for healthy, active lifestyles.
- JJ Watt Foundation: JJ Watt Foundation provides funding for after-school opportunities for middle-school aged children.
- US Soccer Foundation: The U.S. Soccer Foundation awards grants to support soccer programs and field-building initiatives nationwide.
- Lift Life Foundation: Serves students at underfunded high schools by completely transforming their old, dilapidated, and unsafe weight rooms into state-of-the-art facilities with brand new equipment.
- Home Depot Community Impact Grants: Provides grants and volunteer opportunities to support the renovation, refurbishment, retrofitting, accessibility modifications, and/or weatherizing of existing homes, centers, schools, and other similar facilities.
Professional Sports Teams:
The links below are examples of the donation process honored by most professional sports teams. These donations are great to use as raffle prizes or silent auction items at any fundraising event you are hosting: