Educational Grants Help Schools and Teachers Fund Projects

Educational Grants Help Schools and Teachers Fund Projects

We have written before in this space about the great need for funds in our nation’s classrooms. Lack of funding has created a situation where most teachers have to purchase basic supplies like books and paper with their own money. The good news is that there are a large number of educational grants available to schools and teachers.

Grants are funds (or sometimes products) that are gifted by a grant maker, usually a foundation, trust or government agency. They can be awarded to non-profit organizations, schools and educational organizations, and even businesses and individuals. More often than not, grants must be used for a specific project determined by the grant maker. Educational grants are available for a surprisingly large number of projects from equipping a classroom with computers to paying for a field trip or anything that can enrich education.

What follows is only a sampling of the grants that schools and teachers can apply for. Some of the grants are open for submissions at different times of the year so check each link for deadlines and eligibility requirements.

Elmer’s Teacher Tool Kit Grant

The Kids in Need Foundation and Elmer’s partnered to award this grant that provides $100 to $500 worth of school supplies to students with financial needs. The application requires a description of how funds will be used as well as how many students will be impacted.

Target Field Trip Grants

The purpose of these grants is to expand learning outside of the traditional classroom. Each Target store in the US awards three $700 grants that can be used for transportation, admission fees or other field trip expenses.

Pets in the Classroom Grants

This grant from the Pet Care Trust is designed to allow students to interact with a class pet. Funds are used to obtain, care for and maintain a classroom pet. Teachers of students from pre kinder to ninth grade are eligible to apply.

Toshiba Tech Grants

This grant is available for grades 6-12. The Toshiba America Foundation promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning by providing funds for technology enhanced education. Grants of up to $5000 can be used to purchase technology and supplies for STEM educational projects.

Givers Gain® Grants

The BNI Foundation awards ten $1000 grants each year, five in the summer and five in the winter, to 501c3 non-profit schools and educational organizations. Grants are by referral only and the school or organization must be partnered with a Business Voices team to be eligible.

Donors Choose

Donors Choose does not offer grants, but rather an innovative way to raise funds for schools. Public school teachers can request funds for classroom projects, listing the resources needed. Donors can pick which school and project they want to support and can donate money or needed supplies.

A Word on Grant Writing

Grant Writing refers to the process of applying for a grant or making a grant proposal. Grant writing can be something of a skill that can be improved through repetition. Some organizations hire professional grant writers to increase their chances of securing funds. For teachers who will apply on their own, here are a few tips to help the application or proposal get noticed.

Get to know the grant maker – Research the organization awarding the grant to learn what they look for in an application. Reach out to them to learn what you can, read their blog and follow them on social media, if available.

Plan your project – Map out your project’s goals, needed supplies, cost, etc. Innovative and interesting project proposals tend to get more attention.

Give yourself time – A well-written grant proposal, and most applications, take time. Do not wait until just before the deadline to get started, as you will probably not be able to put in the time to make your proposal shine.

Do not limit yourself to the short list of grants above. Take some time to research what is available. You will be sure to find at least one grant for your specific classroom needs. Many more grants for all kinds of educational projects are just a Google search away.

Cause Marketing Benefits Companies and Non-profits

Cause Marketing Benefits Companies and Non-profits

Consumers, given the choice, will often purchase products and services from socially and environmentally responsible companies. Companies and non-profit charities are taking advantage of this fact, and the last quarter century has seen the rise of cause marketing, promotional campaigns that increase profits while benefiting a cause. Cause marketing is now the primary avenue by which companies demonstrate social responsibility. Cause-related marketing is a specific form of cause marketing in which a company partners with a non-profit organization to raise funds for a particular cause.

Cause marketing can be beneficial to both the for-profit company and the charity. For the non-profit, there is the prospect of tapping into the business’s marketing resources and exposure to the company’s customers. For the company, it can mean a public relations boost and increased sales. Even consumers benefit by being able to support a charity simply by making a purchase.

How Does Cause Marketing Work?

Cause marketing works best when there is a certain synergy between the non-profit organization and the company they are partnering with. Ideally, the non-profit’s mission and vision should have some relation to the company’s products or services. It is best if the business’s employees and customers are excited about the cause as well. The right affiliations make for the strongest promotional campaigns.

These partnerships do not always involve a straight donation from the company to the non-profit organization. Instead, businesses will often donate products, services, or their employees’ time. This kind of charitable work tends to have a stronger impact on the consumers being targeted.

The marketing campaign’s goals will be to motivate customers to take some sort of action like donating money or volunteering their time. An effective campaign will not only solicit help, it will raise awareness for the non-profit as well as the company’s philanthropic efforts.

Advantages of Cause Marketing

The advantages to the business include increased sales and public awareness of its social responsibility. A non-profit’s benefits can be significant. Monetary donations and an increase in volunteers are the two primary benefits. In addition, the non-profit is likely to enjoy increased exposure in advertising and publicity from their relationship with a for-profit company. Depending on the company partnered with, the amount of advertising and publicity generated is likely to be greater than what the non-profit can accomplish on its own.

The BNI Foundation’s mission and vision place it in a unique position to benefit from cause marketing. Our association with BNI and its members – all of whom are business people – provides excellent cause marketing opportunities, and BNI’s core value of Givers Gain® reflects perfectly the BNI Foundation’s goals. When BNI chapters integrate the BNI Foundation’s impact into the BNI corporate culture, the BNI brand is elevated, brand loyalty surges and member and alumni engagement and retention are impacted positively.

The charitable activities of the BNI Foundation, along with our aggressive online marketing presence, already lend added credibility to the BNI brand. Deeper relationships between the BNI Foundation and BNI chapters and members act as a tool toward BNI brand awareness, loyalty and recruitment.

As Dr. Ivan Misner clarifies in this video, the BNI Foundation is your foundation. The time, treasure and talent you give benefit the children and schools in your community. Currently we are working on increasing our membership among BNI chapters and members. Back to school time is the ideal time to get your BNI chapter involved with the BNI Foundation and cause marketing. Click here to get started on this win/win opportunity.

What Non-Profits Need Most is Funding

What Non-Profits Need Most is Funding

Too many non-profit organizations fall into a financial trap of their own making. Being mission driven, they find themselves focusing on providing services without a clear picture of where the money will come from. Many non-profits fail to put a solid fundraising system in place. A major study of the challenges facing non-profits conducted in 2013 found that almost a quarter of the organizations surveyed had no fundraising plan whatsoever. Additionally, many non-profit board members lack training on essential fundraising skills like donor identification, prospecting and cultivating.

Non-profit organizations need a solid fundraising culture to succeed. Too many non-profits find themselves dealing with one financial crisis after another when efforts are too heavily focused on the cause, and few resources are dedicated to funding. Some in leadership positions at non-profit organizations do not consider income generation their top priority. This kind of thinking can cause an organization to fail to thrive, or worse, flat out fail, despite great ideas or potential.

Create a Fundraising Culture

A strong fundraising culture is created when all of an organization’s members and donors have an awareness of its mission and funding needs and are enthusiastic to work toward making both succeed. With a bit of basic information, and an appreciation for how the mission and fundraising interact, members and volunteers will create a network that spreads the non-profit’s vision and is ready to capitalize on fundraising opportunities. These basic tenets encourage a positive fundraising culture.

Mission and Vision

Members should understand exactly what change the non profit organization is trying to affect and how it goes about doing that. What are the primary goals of the non profit, and how does it use its resources to serve the community? Being able to articulate these points allows members and volunteers to promote the non-profit’s work.

Fundraising Plan

Every non-profit organization must understand the costs associated with sustaining its mission and vision, as well as its programs and services and how to make the project sustainable. The basics of the financial plan includes information about revenue sources and administrative and organizational expenses. Donors and members must know who donates to their non-profit and where other funds come from.

Pitch

Having fundraising pitches or elevator speeches prepared for every occasion is essential to take advantage of whatever opportunity arises. Preferably, board members already have pitches they use to secure donations from the philanthropists they solicit, but everyone ought to have an idea of what to say if the subject arises. It could simply be clearly communicating the organization’s goals, strategies and needs.

Where’s the Money?

Ideally, non-profits must secure support from many different sources. Some financial sources will occur episodically from events, a grant award or single donation. A combination of episodic and ongoing support, such as endowments, annual funds, recurring grants and the sale of services or products are preferable. Here are some traditional sources of philanthropic funding that non-profits can rely on.

  • Charitable Contributions from individuals account for almost three quarters of all charitable giving in this country.
  • Corporate Contributions have taken on added importance to companies as socially conscious consumers increasingly turn to like minded companies when making purchasing decisions.
  • Government Grants fund programs on the local, state and national levels.
  • Foundations come in many forms including family, community and corporate. Their purpose is to generate funds for other philanthropic organizations.

Non profit-organizations need to consider all of this and more to be successful. If every member at every level of the organization is committed to both the mission and the fundraising, the non-profit will have a substantial advantage in receiving support of all kinds.

The BNI Foundation is YOUR foundation. Our mission to create a conduit between business and education to meet children’s educational needs is powered by BNI. We rely on the support of BNI members, but anyone can help with their time or money. Click this link to find out how can take action.

 

Teachers are Picking Up the Bill for Their Own Jobs.

Teachers are Picking Up the Bill for Their Own Jobs

Teachers investing their own money into the classroom have become so commonplace around the country that it is now taken for granted. For years, schoolteachers have learned to accept the fact that they will spend part of their salaries on items for the classroom. New teachers entering the profession are generally aware of the situation because it is widespread and because they are told as much in college. This information is even found in some college textbooks. Studies have determined that the average teacher spends as much as $1000 yearly on necessary supplies not provided by their employers.
These out of pocket costs could add up to a major expense, especially for someone just starting a career. But, as mentioned, most teachers enter the profession knowing what is expected. New teachers are not likely choosing the career for it’s high income potential. This kind of sacrifice requires a different perspective and a willingness to take on the responsibility to do what is needed to perform the job properly.

Where is the Money Going?

The list of items purchased for the classroom by teachers is extensive. It starts with the decorations teachers use to liven up the classroom and engage their students. The colorful, educational banners, map, posters, alphabets and other learning tools that are ubiquitous in classrooms create a warm atmosphere conducive to creativity and learning. Without teachers taking on the expense, classrooms would be very different places.
As public school budgets continue to be hit, teachers find themselves having to cover even basic supplies like books, paper and pencils. Meanwhile, some have to work with decades old textbooks because they are not prioritized in schools’ budgets. Even furniture is not out of the scope of teacher spending.
In impoverished neighborhoods, it is common for teachers to spend on items unrelated to education to help their students. Teachers will pay for classroom snacks, student meals on school trips and personal items for students with the most need. It is not unheard of for teachers to pay for students’ college applications and curriculums.

Other Effects of Budget Cuts

There are other ways that educational budget cuts affect teachers. Less money means less incentive to join and stay in the profession. Here are some other effects of the lack of proper funding.
Lower Pay – This translates in to smaller paychecks, or losing a job when a school district decides to reduce class sizes.
Reduced Benefits – School district contributions to teacher benefits can be lowered when cuts need to be made somewhere.
Fewer Equipment Purchases – When money is low, schools may put off investing in technology like computers. Teachers and students suffer when they do not have up to date equipment.
Fewer Electives – A school facing budget cuts will typically cut non-core subjects from the curriculum, sometimes cutting teacher positions in the process.
Larger Class Sizes – A common response to budget cuts, bigger classes are less conducive to one-on-one instruction and cooperative learning.
As things stand now, some 20% of teachers quit the profession within the first three years. Educational budget issues do not help matters. Whether teachers accept it or not, they should not have to bear this financial burden. The BNI Foundation was started to address these sorts of issues. Our Business Voices initiative works to get business leaders involved in education by volunteering their time and talents, while our Givers Gain Grants help fund educational projects. Learn more, visit bnifoundation.org.

Kids Need Us to Be in Their Stories

We were recently interviewing a school principal to learn more about how our local Austin Business Voices Team could help with the students’ and the school’s needs when she shared something that really jumped right out at me. She said, “While we have a lot of physical needs here, such as technology components, and science lab upgrades, what we need most are mentors for some of our most challenged youth.” She went on to share that for the population of students who come from challenging home environments, having interaction with successful business people like our BNI members could make a world of difference.

This is the heart of our Business Voices movement. We realize that where there are young people, there are needs that we can help with. I heard from a BNI director in another country, where education is managed differently than here in the US, who said that they don’t need to do school supply drives for their schools. Their governments provide thoroughly for the needs of the schools. And yet, I can’t help but think about the challenges of navigating through the teen-aged years, the emotional needs all developing young adults have, and how much caring and concerned members of their own communities could help them in any number of creative ways.

And so we have our call to action: who’s story are you in? What young person is going to look back on their life and remember YOU as the caring business owner he or she had interaction with that influenced their path in a positive way?

We invite you to learn more about our Business Voices Teams by exploring our website, joining us at Facebook on the BNI Foundation page, or signing up for one of our Launchpad Zoom Web Calls on the 4th Monday of the month.

The young people in our world are only 20% of our total population, but they are 100% of our future! How will you join us to be a positive contributor to their story?