Before you begin your 8 Steps to Obtaining Grants, there is some very important information you need to understand first. While there is a lot of talk about "how to find grants" in the child care field, most caregivers, especially independent home child care operators or persons starting a private or for-profit child care facility, don't realize that it is almost impossible for them to find grant money from any level of government. That is of course, with the exception of perhaps that which might be obtained from new business startup programs and the odd program operated by their provincial or state governments, generally under the Department of Children and Family Services.
The truth is, as fundraising expert Tony Poderis, author of It's a Great Day to Fund-Raise! so eloquently puts it, "When it comes to private enterprises --- no matter how worthy or socially relevant --- unless they seek and obtain non-profit status, there is not I (or they) can do." Tony offers some great advice and a lot of valuable information both in his book, and on his Website: raise-funds.com.
For-profit child care business operators, large and small, may, that's a small may because they aren't all that many programs available with the exception of the Child Care Food Grant in the U.S., be able to: apply for local state/provincial programs being offered through their licensing office, Children's and Family Services Office, and/or Child Care Resource and Referral Agency. Other than that, the best way to locate financing for their child care business is to:
Look into bank loans
Obtain venture capital
Seek gifts and loans from family and friends
Look for advice from incubator organizations, or
Obtain counsel from local small business and women's associations.
In a few states, special loan programs have being developed to help child care programs access immediate funds at affordable rates, like Washington and Oregon's Cascadia Child Care Fund. Contact your local licensing office or Small Business Administration (SBA) for information about financing child care as a small business opportunity. There may also be special initiatives available through the SBA or through local women's organizations to help finance women-owned and -operated businesses as well.
In Canada, small business owners can learn about financing initiatives of all sorts on Industry Canada's Sources of Financing Web page.
Independent child care business owners can also try the Foundation Grants to Individuals OnLine, a service of The Foundation Center. http://www.fdncenter.org. For $9.95 per month (payable by credit card) the Foundation Center offers an online listings of Grants to Individuals in the U.S. To learn more, visit heir About Foundation Grants to Individuals online at: http://gtionline.fdncenter.org/gti_help/1aboutfd.htm.
Visit our Financing Child Care Sources page for more detailed information on financing resources for child care.
8 Important Steps to Obtaining Grants for Your Child Care Program
Step 1. Conduct Research
Begin with a search for local, provincial/state, federal and private funders. Most of your research can be conducted online. We've set up a complete Grants section to get you started.
Your first stop should be your local licensing office, child care resource and referral agency, and child care organizations. They'll have the scoop on local initiatives as well as the other major funding programs such as:
Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)and TANF
Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
While the list above represents the vast majority of funding for child care, you may be able to unearth a valuable grantor right in your own community from such community service organizations as the Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, United Way, Junior League, college fraternities and sororities, and so on. Check your local telephone Yellow Pages under "Clubs" for these and other service organizations in your area.
County or city governments may have special funding initiatives for child care, as may local early childhood professional organizations or child care resource and referral agencies. If your program serves families from a core group of employers in your community, you may consider asking these companies, and any professional organizations associated with them, for assistance.
In addition to monetary resources, you may wish to investigate possibilities for "in-kind" contributions from these same sources. Volunteer services, goods, materials, or equipment may be offered to assist program development or operation. Again, your local Yellow Pages may list Fundraising Counselors and Organizations that can provide further technical assistance in your search for child care funding.
Write down every funding lead you find using a Grant Search Lead form, like the one available on childcare.net. This will allow you to gather the sources in a logical way and help you to determine if the lead is worth pursuing.
While you're on the hunt for potential funders through the avenues listed below, there are a number of online resources that can help you make your way through the grantseeking maze.
Local Community Funders (United Way, service clubs, Chamber or Commerce and Women's business groups, unions, other organizations that make charitable contributions to your community)
Corporations (Sponsorships, employee contribution programs, in-kind donations and services, joint promotions, etc.)
Public charities (Foundations, government programs, etc.)
Individuals (Drives through local campaigns for public support, which could include bingo, raffles, direct mail donation cards, door-to-door canvassing, etc.).
You can learn more about the fundraising strategies listed above in the best seller used by fundraisers, household name charities, and neighbourhood groups in Canada, America, and worldwide: .Fundraising for Non-Profit Groups, available from childcare.net in our Online Catalog.
Online Research Sources
Charity Village - Nonprofit Neighbourhood - http://www.charityvillage.com/cv/nonpr/index.asp
CharityVillage.com - Government Departments and Agencies
University of British Columbia's Office of Research Services - Funding Resources - http://www.orsil.ubc.ca/funding/index.htm
The Foundation Center - http://fdncenter.org/funders/grantmaker/index.html
The Craftsman Center Funding Resources - http://www.tgci.com/funding/resources.asp
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Step 2. Requesting Guidelines and Applications
Once you have completed your initial research to find potential funders, Step 2 involves contacting the ones you checked off to pursue and request their latest application and funding guidelines. If the program is operated by a foundation, also request their annual report. You want to do as much research on the Funder as possible. This will help you to determine if there is a good fit between your needs and the funder's criteria for doling out the money. To further your research you can also review the funder's IRS Form 990 using online sources such as GuideStar ( http:www.guidestar.org), or GrantSmart.com (http://www.grantsmart.com/search/search001.html).
It might help you to view some common grant applications online so you know what to look for when your information comes in. You can do so by visiting the Foundation Centre at: http://fdncenter.org/funders/cga/index.html
You're probably wondering why you need to do so much research just to find the money to fund your program. Author Lisa L. Hollis, explains it perfectly in her booklet, Writing Grants, (The Center for Nonprotit Resources). "Prospect research helps to determine:
whether a prospect’s interests match your organization’s or project’s purpose
how and when to approach the prospect (grant application guidelines)
how much money to request and for what ."
Step 3. Grant/Funder Information Processing
As the funding and application guidelines trickle in, read them carefully and make notes about specific guideline information such as:
The type of program funded
Location and populations served
Application deadlines, and so on.
To assist you with this part of your project, childcare.net has developed a Grant/Funder Information Form that will help you lay out the important points in an easy to follow fashion. The forms will also help you to view the information for each source at a glance, so you can eliminate the ones that obviously won't coincide with your proposal. You're looking for strong leads, not ones that will have you wasting your time and the funder's time. The Grant/Funder Information Form also have space for you to compile a to-do list or to write down any questions you might want to ask a particular Funder if you need clarification on something.
Step 4. Write a Brief Program Description
Write a brief description of your program and why the funds are needed. In their book, Fundraising for Non-Profit Groups,
authors Joyce Young, Ken Wymanand John Swaigen offer this simple outline for your funding proposal.
"To begin planning, determine the following:
Why should the project be done? (Prove it hasn't already been done.) Help the donor understand what societal problem you are trying to fix.
How will it be done?
How long will it take?
How much will it cost?
Who will do the work and why they are the right people?
What end product or impact will result and how will it be measured and evaluated?"
Resource: Fundraising for Non-Profit Groups,
by Joyce Young, Ken Wymanand John Swaigen. Self-Counsel Press Page 53, Section 2.3.
Step 5. Contact Funders Directly
Call the prospective funders you've short-listed If you have a list of questions prepared on your Grant/Funder Information Form, have these ready. Let the contact person know you'll only take up a few moment's of their time but that you'd like to be certain there's an actual fit before you send in a proposal. Most funders will appreciate your effort in getting all the facts before submitting a proposal.
Step 6. Get organized
Make a folder for each Funder you are now going to pursue and put all the other information you've gathered away for the time being. You want to focus your attention now on getting your proposal completed and submitting your information to the funders in an appropriate time frame or before their closing deadline. Make notes of deadlines on a calendar so you don't miss any opportunities.
Step 7. Prepare Your Proposal and Cover Letter
Now is the time to draft up your proposal. Take what you've outlined above and expand on why you need the funds, who will benefit from the award, and how you plan to spend the money. This is your sales pitch to the Funder. You need to plead your case on paper and make the Funder take notice.
"Donors, especially major donors, almost invariably fall into one of two groups: Those who are personally touched, inspired, or motivated by the organization's programs and services; Those who, while not personally touched by an organization, are influenced and impressed by what it does." Tony Pederis - Fundraising Forum
Your Final Proposal Should Include The Following:
A brief cover letter explaining the proposal. Don't forget to include your contact information.
The reason for your proposal. Tell the reader what problem you are addressing, who it affects and how it affects them, and what solutions you are putting forth to help correct the situation.
The benefits of your program to the population you will serve. Clearly demonstrate how the funding will have a positive impact your parents or children. In other words, lay out your objectives by describing what you want to accomplish and the methods you will use to accomplish it.
Statistics, demographics, successful outcomes from other similar programs that will prove why the funding will make a difference in your community. Demonstrate that you know your community and its needs well.
An explanation of how you will measure the results of your proposal and know if you have accomplished what you set out to. Let the Funder know how you will evaluate your progress, how you will verify these results, and what procedures you have in place to ensure the desired outcome.
Details of your background, competencies and dedication to your cause, as well as those of your key personnel and, if applicable, your Board of Directors. Funders want to know you and your team have the skills to accomplish your goals and are totally committed to seeing the project through not only the funding period, but as long as it takes to solve the problem you set out.
Attach any letters of support you have received from parents, other organizations, or professionals that can demonstrate a need for your proposal. You should also include a breakdown of the key personnel involved in your program, such as your board of directors, assistance from other organizations, etc.
Financial information such as a detailed and finely tuned budget, financial statements, and tax exemption paperwork. Ensure that your figures are painstakingly accurate and that only those items that are truly necessary to operate your program are listed. Funders watch for attention to detail and will reject any proposal that has the slightest hint of budget padding. Sample budgets can be found in Fundraising for Non-Profit Groups, by Joyce Young, Ken Wymanand John Swaigen. Self-Counsel Press
Any forms or documents specifically requested in the funder's guidelines. The last thing you want is to have your proposal or application send back to you because it was “incomplete”.
Finally, have your proposal proofread by a third party. You want to make a good impression. Typos, bad grammar, spelling mistakes, inaccurate calculations could all cost you the funding you've worked so hard to receive. You should put the proposal into someone else's hands for a few days after you have it completed. That will give you a much needed break from your work, and give you a fresh pair of eyes for that final review before you ensure all the necessary signatures are on the document and you send it off.
Step 8: Don't Give Up
The best advice you can receive as you begin your quest for funding for your child care program is not to become discouraged. Funders typically receive a lot more proposals than they fund. So apply to more than one funding organization, and follow each organization's instructions very carefully as to what they want in a proposal, and you'll have a much better chance of obtaining funding for your child care project.
Grants & Funding Sources for Child Care
Canadian Grant & Funding Sources
American Grant & Funding Sources
Financing Child Care Sources
Grant/Funder Information Form
Fundraising for Non-Profit Groups
By Joyce Young, Ken
Wymanand John Swaigen. Self-Counsel Press.
It's a Great Day to Fund-Raise!, by Tony Pederis.
Tony offers some great advice and a lot of valuable information both
in his book, and on his Website: raise-funds.com.
Tony Pederis - Fundraising Forum
Finding and Writing Grants, by Lisa L. Hollis The Center for
Nonprofit Resources 3801 Canal Street, Suite 309 New Orleans,
LA 70119 - www.nonprofitresources.org
Glossary of Terms used by Grantmakers and Grantseekers,
from The Foundation Center.
Book and Product Reviews
Fundraising for Non-profit Groups
By Joyce Young, Ken Wymanand John Swaigen.
Raising money is the most essential and also the most difficult task for any nonprofit organization, and child care is no exception. Explaining in detail the process of fundraising, this comprehensive book has recently been expanded and updated to explore fundraising through telemarketing and the Internet. With new samples and examples, the authors tell you how to raise a lot more money for less effort.
Fundraising for Non-profit Groups comes with a large appendix of resources and courses for grantseekers.
ByTana Fletcher and Julia Rockler
If you'd like to know all the inside secrets for attracting publicity to your child care business, your association, or yourself, you need this book. Step-by-step instructions illustrate just what it takes for any enterprise to generate media attention. The authors, both award-winning journalists, show how you can make the most of every opportunity for free coverage in print, broadcast, and Internet media. From newspaper articles to radio interviews, from television appearances to the World Wide Web, this expanded and updated edition includes all the advice you need to sparkle in the publicity spotlight.
Grant Search Leads and Funder Information Forms
The Grant/Funder Information Form helps you lay out the important information you gather from guidelines and applications in an easy-to-follow fashion. The forms will also help you to view the information for each source at a glance, so you can eliminate the ones that obviously won't coincide with your proposal. You're looking for strong leads, not ones that will have you wasting your time and the funder's time. The Grant/Funder Information Form also has space for you to compile a to-do list or to write down any questions you might want to ask a particular Funder if you need clarification on something.
The easy to use Grant Search Sheet helps make an easy-to-use list of grant makers and Funders in the 4 major fundraising categories ; Local Sources, State/Provincial Sources, Federal Sources, and Private Sector Sources.