There Are Grants for That: Look to the Private Sector for Additional Funding

By Browning, Beverly | Public Management, June 2014 | Go to article overview

There Are Grants for That: Look to the Private Sector for Additional Funding


Browning, Beverly, Public Management


Local government managers can consider three critical indicators when factoring competitive grants into local budgets: 1) professional development line items have been either decreased or deleted for one or more fiscal years; 2) rising cost of equipment repair and replacement is eating at available budget dollars, and 3) residents are disgruntled over the state of public recreation facilities.

I know this seems like I'm preaching to the choir, but sometimes to save time and effort, an easier route is taken by just filling out the forms for formula grants--guaranteed funding based on a head count allocation--while the pursuit of additional private-sector funding falls by the wayside. Simply accepting that a fiscal-year budget will always be in a deficit is also a fatal mistake.

Here are some ideas on how you can be creative and free up general funds for more critical needs by pursuing competitive private sector grants. Always keep in mind that once such grants start rolling in, they may not be comingled with your general fund account, and clear audit trails are necessary for all types of incoming funds.

1. Your unit of government can no longer afford to approve staff requests for professional development training, and spending caps are hurting staff morale.

Did you know that there are corporate and foundation grantmakers that will fund professional development grant requests? Remember, the requests must be reasonable, justified, have limited high-end travel expenses (no flying to France for an international meeting or staying at five-star resorts for a conference), and be submitted at least six to nine months in advance of the training date.

You can also use a grant research database like Foundation Center, GrantStation, or eCivis Grants Network:Research to identify private-sector funders. Subscription-based databases like these can assist you in targeting grants relevant to project needs by using keywords, other filters, and e-mail alerts to automate your search and save time.

Private sector funding sources to target include community foundations and insurance foundations. You can also look up community foundations in your state and region at the community foundation locator website at http://www.cof.org/ community-foundation-locator. This way, you already know the name of the potential funder to search in one of the subscription databases.

Why use a database when you know the name of the funder? Because each of these subscription services has detailed profiles of funders that reduce your general Internet search time and frustration when you can't locate the right information.

2. …

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