Ask the Experts

How can the SAA connect teachers with grant-writing classes to find funding? How does one go about finding philanthropic sources?

Grant writing is an art. But just like playing a musical instrument, anybody can do it if they are willing to invest the time to do the required research and write a persuasive and cohesive grant proposal. Here are some things you should know:

Grants are generally given to non-profit organizations for programs and services that benefit the community or the public at large. Your state or provincial SAA Chapter Affiliate might be an appropriate vehicle as they will have non-profit status.

You should have a specific project in mind as grant-makers rarely fund general operating expenses. It takes time to find an appropriate foundation that will support your cause, to forge a relationship with a grant maker, to write a grant following specific guidelines, to get a response to your application (sometimes months), and then to actually receive the funding (more months). An estimated five percent of grant proposals are actually funded. Don’t be dissuaded—try again or approach other organizations. Once you are awarded a grant, you will probably have a time frame (usually a year) within which you must complete your project and account for the funds received.

You may be more likely to receive funding from a foundation in your geographic region. The Foundation Center is a great resource for grant research of all kinds. Through their Foundation Finder, you can type in your city and state to discover what grants are available locally. If you have an area or community foundation nearby, they will offer grant-writing classes. They can also advise you as to which foundations in your region might be a good match to your program or project. They will also have a comprehensive subscription to the Foundation Center Directory which you will be able to access for free at their location.

When you’re ready to start writing, Non-Profit Guides is a good resource for crafting and compiling all of the documents that are included in a grant proposal. A Google search will also yield a list of several books about grant-writing.

If you are simply looking for a relatively small amount of money to support a workshop or scholarships, it might be easier to make requests for donations from carefully selected individuals either in person or by letter. I have found that parents of students who have graduated from our Suzuki program are often eager to contribute because they recognize the positive impact that Suzuki education can have on students and their families. Grandparents, too, tend to be eager investors in the lives of children. Asking for money can be very intimidating and elicits a feeling akin to performance anxiety. However, if you have a worthwhile project that is well conceived and you deliver your proposal with enthusiasm, your chances of a successful outcome are good.

Best of luck!
Sue Baer, SAA Board member