Getting funding for projects, conferences, or your music program can be flat out maddening. Required of you is tenacity, courage, and often the ability to weave gold at your fingertips. The larger your financial needs are, the heavier the weight will seem on your shoulders. Obtaining grants is an art all in its own. Below, I will outline some of the necessary skills when embarking on down this path.
“Why exactly is it that you need funding, and why we should give YOU the money?”
In a nutshell, this is what donors/foundations are asking you. Perhaps you need new instruments, a library of music charts, travel funding, or money to start an all-new project? This is as fundamental as it gets, but there is more than meets the eye. Learning how to ask for the money is almost more important than the why. Now — I’m not inferring that your needs are any less valid than the next person, however there is a language you must speak, and often with a silver tongue.
You have an idea of what you need, but framing it in the right light is important. Why are your needs important? Highlight the benefits you or your students will receive. The underwriters of grants what to know how the community is going to benefit from their contributions. Here is a small example: “Attendance at the XYZ conference has shown to to beneficial to students. According to a 2014 study done at Tumbleweed University, 90% of participants have gained professional connections and knowledge that has proven results. Students who have attended have a higher rate of success obtaining a job in the field and continuing higher education.” Put the hours you spent learning to write in college into practice! Be concise, accurate, and make sure you have the most current data.
Be prepared to address the following: What will the money be buying? Why do you want it, and what are some darn good reasons? What good will the community see as result? Is this goal of yours sustainable? How are you going to measure the project’s success? Why are you the best person/organization to receive this money? Now is the time to lay it all out on the table, the worst thing that happens is a “No.”
Find the Money!
Being prepared to defend your need for funding is part of the journey. Another more crucial part is identifying the foundations that most closely align with your needs. Finding the right advocate for your needs is a must. Now is the time to use your google-fu you have spent years mastering. There are countless organizations out there, and they all have a need to make donations. Some do it for the tax requirements, some for philanthropy, and some to simply wish to propel the world of art forward in new and wild directions. This is going to require careful research on your part, as more grants get denied than are ever approved.
Look on GrantSpace, The National Endowment For the Arts, New Music USA, Mockingbird Foundation. These are just some of the top search results, but there are countless websites. The deeper you dig, the more specific information you are going to find. You may find a diamond in the rough through a local business wishing to provide grants.
Once you have located the foundation with whom you wish you partner, writing your request should be done with great care. Pay careful attention to the deadline, length required, include all of the required parameters. Once you have written your grant, find a proof-reader. Grammar, syntax, spelling, and even perceived tone can impact your odds of getting funding. This is the moment in which you must be completely in synch with your potential donor. Use the language of the industry, they want to know their money is going into capable hands. Each grant should be tailored to the lender in mind, this is not a one size fits all endeavor.
Below is a list of Grant Possibilities for Music Educators I found at the American Orff-Schulwerk Association:
GRANT SEARCH ENGINES
Fundsnet Services ‐ http://www.fundsnetservices.com/
NOZA Search – https://www.nozasearch.com/
Grant Gopher – https://www.grantgopher.com/
S&S WorldWide Free Grant Search – http://www.ssww.com/grants/
DMOZ Open Directory Project – http://www.dmoz.org/(search: “funding for…”)
GrantsAlert.com – http://www.grantsalert.com/home
Duke University Grant Search Engine http://researchfunding.duke.edu
Teacher Planet –http://www.grants4teachers.com
The Foundation Center (you must visit a cooperating collection to use this database; link is to list of collections sites)–
Kids in Need Foundation – http://www.kinf.org/grants/
MTNA Foundation – http://mtnafoundation.org/
Mockingbird Foundation – http://mbird.org
Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation ‐ http://www.mhopus.org/
NEA Foundation ‐ http://www.neafoundation.org/programs/Learning&Leadership_Guidelines.htm
National Endowment for the Arts – http://www.arts.gov/
National Endowment for the Humanities – http://www.neh.gov/
Federal Government grants – http://www.grants.gov
Vh1Save the Music Foundation – http://www.vh1savethemusic.com/
Kinder Morgan Foundation ‐ http://www.kindermorgan.com/community/
ASCAP Foundation – http://ascapfoundation.org/grants.html
STATIC LISTINGS of POSSIBLE GRANTS
National Association for Music Education – http://www.nafme.org/my-classroom/scholarshipsgrants/
4Teachers.Org – http://www.4teachers.org/profdev/index.php?profdevid=gnr
Musical Online – http://www.musicalonline.com/foundation_grants.htm
Daniels Music Schools – http://www.danielsmusicschools.com/grants.htm
Childrens Music Workshop – http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/resources/grants.html
There are many more out there to be found, so get searching!