Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Funding Small Projects

There never seems to be enough money in the budget for what you want to do. I have a budget that is decent, especially considering what is happening in other libraries and the elimination of staffing and budgets altogether. My vision for what the library could be, unfortunately, exceeds my annual budget. I feel I have a good framework to work from, but the collection could use some updating, I would like to make reference materials ebooks, and I have a wish list of databases I would like. I could give up on my dreams (ok, a little melodramatic) or look for additional funding sources. So this year I have decided to enter the world of grant writing.

Grants can be intimidating, especially if you have never done it before. I have applied for some big ones of several thousand dollars, but that is a discussion for another day. Today I'm focusing on small project funding, specifically DonorsChoose.org.

DonorsChoose.org is a site where teachers post a list of materials they would like for their classroom, such as art supplies, books, or technology, and donors can help fund the projects. I had seen this program listed on many grant opportunity sites, but hadn't tried it. I decided to give it a shot now since I had heard the site gets a lot of traffic in December from companies and individuals looking for last minute tax deductions. Setting up the request turned out to be a very easy process, from selecting the materials I desired to  describing (aka selling) the project. The site recommends posting small projects since they tend to get funded quickest. Initially I couldn't decide what to apply for so I opted for material for our Everybody Collection which I started last year for our Life Skills and pre-school lab classes. I posted a request for about $400 of pre-school concept books and the total project came to $513 after various fees were tacked on. The project ended up being funded by two very generous donors. The books I requested will be shipped to me after the holiday break and then I have a certain amount of time to fill out the thank you packet. Overall, it has been a very easy process. I have another project posted for holiday books.

One thing I have figured out about funding it that it pays off to try to get monies from outside organizations. The worst that can happen is you lose an hour or two filling out paperwork and they say no. But when they say yes, your patrons can really benefit.

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