Some of you might be thinking of starting an educational foundation in your district, or you might already have such an organization. An educational foundation can significantly expand the scope of your fund-raising efforts, but you’ll want to make sure you closely coordinate your grant-seeking efforts with the foundation’s work.
While the role of an educational foundation differs from that of grant writers, its overall mission is similar. Grant seeking is a form of fund raising that pursues support from government and foundation sources to fund needs. An educational foundation is also a form of fund raising that usually focuses efforts on raising support from individuals. Typically, grant-seeking efforts and the fund-raising efforts of the educational foundation will overlap in the areas of foundation and corporate support.
It is essential that you coordinate your grant-seeking and foundation efforts so you don’t duplicate efforts. For example, private funders should not receive duplicate proposals from the same district; clear communication between grant-seeking and foundation staff is essential before proposals are sent to private funders.
Keep in mind that district grant writers and staff from the educational foundation are representing the same cause. Both are representing the district, and both should be on the same page with regard to the district’s needs, priorities, and possible projects. Both should share the same funding goals and should share information about sources of support. It’s probably a good idea to have your grant-writing staff and the educational foundation staff meet at least quarterly. Certainly, there should be regular phone contact between the two.
Collaboration between the grants staff and the educational foundation staff also can strengthen fund-raising efforts. Both can share information about funding opportunities and the research that has been conducted about these opportunities. In addition, both can share office equipment and secretarial support.
Gifts secured by the educational foundation might be counted as matching funds for grant projects. For example, if the educational foundation is able to secure a gift of scanners from a business in the community, the scanners could be used in a grant-funded project and could be counted as matching support.
Board members of the educational foundation may be valuable contacts for grant-seeking efforts. Or, a classroom project that is funded through the educational foundation may be expanded and turned into a schoolwide project that can be submitted for support by a state education department grant.
Clearly, the need for coordination between the two staffs is critical to maximize the fund-raising efforts taking place in your district. You might want to consider holding an annual event that recognizes the fund-raising efforts of both the grants staff and that of the educational foundation.
If you are planning to start an educational foundation or your foundation is in its infancy, make it a priority to coordinate its efforts with those of your grant writers. Schedule meetings so that foundation staff members can identify the needs of the district, and develop a plan that will enable both teams to work together throughout the year. Encourage them to discuss fund-raising objectives and share problems, with the goal of coming up with the best solutions.
Promote the idea that although the grants staff and the foundation staff might be in different physical locations and might have different bosses, ultimately they are a part of the same team and should not be working completely independently of each other. Maximizing your fund-raising efforts through the careful coordination of grant-seeking and foundation staff will bring more resources to the table to help you achieve your district’s goals.