October 4, 2018 – AWE Learning Grants Writer
Lack of funding can certainly limit the resources that libraries are able to provide to local communities. There are many grants opportunities but finding them can be challenging. AWE Learning’s Grant Writer has compiled some questions and responses below to help you seek and apply for funding
I find that many grant applications are only accepted from 501c3 organizations. Unfortunately, we are not a 501c3 library. However, I want to start a Friends group to help us find local funding. How can I go about setting up a Friends Group?
Much like a community foundation, Friends of the Library groups are comprised of local citizens whose focus are on community needs. It is important that the library administration and potential Friends agree on the expectations for a Friends group. Partner with people who are aligned with your own goals and can help achieve the goals of the library. For example, people who have marketing and fundraising experience are always key individuals to start with.
Once you have selected the member of your Friends group, it’s vital to discuss which needs of the library are of the highest priority. A great resource for a step-by-step breakdown of how to start a Friends group is available here, a resource from the American Library Association.
I am trying to find local funding to help finance our library and our various programs. How do I search for and locate trusted partners to award grants that can help us with youth programs?
Start thinking about what kind of businesses and organizations are located in your community and if any of them seem like candidates that would support educational causes. Do you have a Chamber of Commerce or a local bank that has its own foundation set up for loans? Any financial institution that donates is worth pursuing. Rotary clubs are also a great resource as they often have a small amount of money they put aside each year to donate to local causes that are aligned with their values. In many cases, you can approach local businesses to inquire if they are willing to partner on a project for which you are seeking funding. Showing scope and collaboration looks impressive to funders because it illustrates there is an important need to be met. This also allows you to think about ways you can help those you collaborate with; one hand washes the other.
If my organization gets awarded a grant, how do I gather the information and data required for the final reports to the grantor?
Before submitting an application, you should have a clear idea where the funds will go, and what need you want to fulfill with your request. Many grantors will not fund requests for general operating budgets or technology purchases; therefore, having a specific program in mind for your funds, if awarded, is important. When developing the program or project, think about measurable goals, both short-term, and long-term. These short and long-term goals will help you to monitor your progress.
The information and data required for the final reports to the grantor depend on your approach and likely differs from grantor to grantor. If for example, you want to measure the foot traffic in your library, you might have someone keeping track of how many people come through, or how many books are checked out daily. If you want to see if a reading activity has helped the grades of the kids who attend, ask parents and kids to complete surveys at the end of the program.
When I work with customers who want to buy AWE Learning workstations and tablets, I emphasize that our products come with access to the AWE Learning Customer Portal which generates utilization reports for any given time period. This allows our customers to deliver data based evidence about how successful the purchase and implementation of AWE Learning products have been to their library.