Magazine article Technology & Learning

Dear Administrator: Leader's Edge Columist Susan Brooks-Young Answers Your Questions about Grants, Fundraising, and Budgeting

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Dear Administrator: Leader's Edge Columist Susan Brooks-Young Answers Your Questions about Grants, Fundraising, and Budgeting

Article excerpt

Q: We recently completed a grant proposal that required verification of how administrative staff has supported local technology initiatives. I've not seen this requirement before, and we scrambled a bit to find specific documentation. Is this a common request?

A: The importance of administrative support in successful technology programs is well established in several studies. As a result, increasing numbers of technology-related requests for proposals ask for specifics about how administrators will support the proposed project and how they have backed previous initiatives. One effective method for documenting this is through your own annual professional growth plan. If your district does not require a specific technology goal for administrators, incorporate your support of appropriate use of technology within existing goal areas. Next time you need this information, it will be easy to access and report!

Q: With increasing competition for dwindling funds, we're finding that our fundraisers for technology are bringing in less money. This is especially true when our feeder elementary and middle schools are running fundraisers at the same time. Do you have any suggestions?

A: In a perfect world, technology budgets would not rely on fundraisers or grants just to pay for basic needs. In reality, schools' choices about how to spend funds are often limited; however, your community can handle just so many Jog-A-Thons or gift wrap sales before wallets are tapped out.

Since it appears that one issue for your school is the fact that younger siblings are participating in competing fundraisers, you might explore the possibility of a partnership with your feeder schools. Would it be possible to conduct one or two large fundraisers where profits were shared among participating schools? If not, perhaps you could at least coordinate calendars to avoid direct competition and to vary the type of fundraiser or the products being sold. Either solution requires some time and planning, but you should see a pay-off in the form of more profitable fundraisers all around.

Q: Our district has decided to contract with a grant writer. What are some of the qualities we should seek in candidates?

A: Experience and a good track record for writing winning proposals are obvious needs, but you'll want to look at the underlying skills that make grant writers successful over a period of time. Almost anyone who can follow an outline, do some basic research, and write well is able to generate a successful proposal, but you don't want someone who regularly approaches grant writing as an 11th hour exercise in beating deadlines.

Organization, attention to detail, the ability to manage complicated proposals, and good people skills are all critical attributes of a grant writer who has staying power. You will also want to make certain that the person you select has the time to devote his/her full attention to your project. Finally, some grant writers will offer to write on a contingency basis, where they are not actually paid for writing the grant, but then recoup these fees by writing themselves in as the project evaluator. Think carefully before accepting such a proposal. While it may appear to be a good deal initially, the fees written into the grant may be higher than the cost would have been to pay separately for the proposal writing and evaluation. …

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