A couple of the jobs I’ve taken to pay the bills have been grant-writing gigs. Through the good graces of the Space Frontier Foundation, I was able to take a grant-writing class through The Grantsmanship Center, so I’ve been putting that education to work for them and one or two others.
One of those others is a local entrepreneur who’s been running a boxing gym for single-parent kids in Apopka, Florida. In addition to teaching boxing, he tries to impart lessons in determination, hard work, and mental toughness–traits that the owner (Jimmy Rivera) found valuable in his own youth. He’s trying to obtain funds to move his operation out of his one-car garage and into a facility that can support a full-size ring, punching bags, workout space, and other equipment necessary for the manly art of pugilism (note: he does have a couple of girl students as well–that just seems to be the way one phrases the sport of boxing). My client was also interested in obtaining sponsorships, which are common in the sporting world.
Often the first thing that has to be done is finding potential grant sources. That will be the subject of this entry–I’m still working on helping my customer–that can be a subject for another day.
Grants vs. Sponsorships
A grant, of course, is a donation of money for a particular cause or project. It differs from a business loan in that the recipient isn’t expected to pay the money back. However, the grant giver does expect the recipient to achieve some specified result.
Sponsorships are mutual-benefit relationships between an organization and a recipient, where the sponsoring organization provides funding, in-kind (material) support, or both. In return, the recipient is expected to publicly recognize the sponsor by prominently displaying their logo, mentioning them at events, and providing the sponsor with special access or consideration during an event (e.g., better seats at a sporting event, special receptions for sponsor personnel, and so forth).
The primary research source for the ultimate grant-giver (the federal government) is Grants.gov, which is the central clearing house for the U.S. Government’s various grant-giving activities. Sometimes grant seekers apply directly to the grant-giving agency, sometimes they can go through Grants.gov, and sometimes the agency specifies one or the other.
You can search Grants.gov by category or keyword. Categories include:
» Agriculture (48)
» Arts (see “Cultural Affairs” in CFDA) (6)
» Business and Commerce (15)
» Community Development (23)
» Consumer Protection (12)
» Disaster Prevention and Relief (9)
» Education (473)
» Employment, Labor and Training (30)
» Energy (41)
» Environment (189)
» Food and Nutrition (152)
» Health (1163)
» Housing (9)
» Humanities (see “Cultural Affairs” in CFDA) (21)
» Income Security and Social Services (225)
» Information and Statistics (12)
» Law, Justice and Legal Services (56)
» Natural Resources (155)
» Other (see text field entitled “Explanation of Other Category of Funding Activity” for clarification) (95)
» Recovery Act (5)
» Regional Development (13)
» Science and Technology and other Research and Development (437)
» Transportation (15)
For a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization like the BANG Boxing Gym–an after-school gym supporting at-risk youth–grant searchers need to use the magic of keywords to focus their grant research:
after school program
In addition to the federal government, there are national-level organizations (foundations) that provide grants for education and other related topics…
At the state level, Florida has grants in the following categories. I’ve bolded the topics BANG Boxing Gym might find most effective.
- Arts and Culture
- Capital Funding
- College Scholarship
- Community Service Coordination
- Conflict Resolution
- Disaster Relief
- Domestic Violence
- Economic Development
- Elementary Education
- Faith Based
- Financial Assistance
- Health and Medical
- Higher Education
- Homeland & National Security
- Justice & Juvenile Justice
- Mental Health
- Non-Profit Support Services
- Research & Evaluation
- Secondary Education
- Small Business
- Special Education
- Substance Abuse
- Travel & Tourism
- Youth/Out-of-School Youth
Lastly, grant seekers can look around for sources at the county/city/local level.
For example, Orange County’s government has Neighborhood Grants.
The Edyth Bush Foundation provides grants for the arts and health and human services programs.
My dad also suggested the Catholic Youth Organization: http://www.cyfusa.org/grants/grantsapply.htm
I will probably be helping BANG with some of these sources.
We’ve already pursued (or are pursuing) sponsorships through Under Armour, Dicks’s Sporting Goods, and a few others. We’ll see how those go. Meanwhile, the internet keywords are similar to what you use for Grants.gov.
I wouldn’t use ALL of these at once. Or, if you do, start with one or two of them and then narrow your search by adding words. In addition to direct research, Jimmy (my client) has identified potential sources by watching who sponsors boxers or boxing organizations–not being someone who watches boxing much, this is a research source that leverages his own experience. Less work for me since he already knows where to go.
The challenge with sponsorships is that they generally pay off better for the sponsor if the sponsored organization is prominent enough for them to see some public relations benefit. That’s not to say it can’t happen–it’s just a consideration.
The primary point of research is to whittle down the vast range of potential funding sources to a list of organizations that are genuinely interested in your particular cause or project. Grant research is all about relevance.
Future entries will address actually writing and winning grants. That is something I’m still in the process of learning.