Magazine article Information Management

Securing Grants for RIM Programs: With Creative Planning and Careful Research, RIM Professionals May Be Successful in Finding Grant Funding for a New Project or Initiative

Magazine article Information Management

Securing Grants for RIM Programs: With Creative Planning and Careful Research, RIM Professionals May Be Successful in Finding Grant Funding for a New Project or Initiative

Article excerpt

Securing a grant for a records and information management (RIM) project is a challenge because records are usually regarded as an institution's own responsibility, and programs offering records management grants and funding sources are limited. Archival project grants may be only slightly easier to identify because there are a few more sources for these. In either case, securing a grant often requires imagination and creativity.

There are four categories of potential sources for RIM program grants:

1. Funding programs specifically intended to support records management or archives projects, such as the state programs for local government records, noted in sidebar.

2. Programs with interest in information management issues where there are records management dimensions, for example, the Department of Defense, discussed in sidebar.

3. Programs that are interested in a particular topical or geographical area that do not have a specific category for records management or archives but might be convinced to consider a proposal if they understand how records issues are related to their main interests. Many foundations have potential for support in this category. But success requires initiative, imagination, cultivation of and consultation with program officers, and tailoring of proposals.

Examples include:

* A state or federal funding agency charged with improving educational performance in the public schools might be interested in a project to develop a new student tracking, evaluation, and reporting system.

* Interest in national security might be cultivated toward support for projects to create model programs for electronic information sharing among local police and security agencies.

* An interest in developing better strategies for handling digital information might be capitalized on to secure support for a model project to improve e-mail management.

* Rising interest in electronic data discovery in the legal sector could be used as a basis for seeking grant funds to develop, apply, or test policies to ensure appropriate records management.

* A funding source for archival projects might be persuaded to support survey work, schedule development and other records management as a necessary precondition of sound archival work.

* A state humanities council, interested in promoting the humanities in public life, might be approached for support to preserve or digitize and distribute some particularly strong, relevant subject-area collections.

* A local corporation, not interested in starting a grants program, might nevertheless be convinced to fund an internship in archives or records management at a local university.

* A dramatic national tragedy such as 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina might lead to funding becoming available for improved records management, e.g., for detecting and thwarting terrorists and for disaster preparedness.

4. Programs that might be interested in initiatives to strengthen the capacity of the RIM program, including possible donations of in-kind support. Foundations have the most potential in this category.

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There are four major potential sources for grants: national government programs; state archives/records management program grants for local governments; foundations; and corporations. (See "Potential Sources for Grants" for a description of potential sources.)

One of the best sources for learning about potential grants is the professional community. Professional organizations, through their newsletters, meetings, local chapters, and in other ways, provide a natural network for people to discuss grant strategy, sources, and administration issues. The records management listserv, the archives listserv, and more specialized lists, websites, and blogs, are also good sources for information.

Identifying and Using Grants for Strategic Program Development

Approach grants planning by considering four strategic questions:

1. …

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