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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: A new blog series

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An insider's guide to funding afterschool: A new blog series

As Vice President of Development here at the Afterschool Alliance, my role is to raise funds for our organization, so that we have the capacity to do our work as the primary voice for afterschool programs across the country. But prior to my current role, I was the Executive Director of an afterschool arts program here in Washington, D.C., and as such I know how important—and how difficult—it is to make sure an afterschool program has the support it needs to make an impact on the kids it serves every afternoon.

Ed Spitzberg is the Vice President of Development at the Afterschool Alliance

To that end, this post is the first in a series we’ll do all year to highlight important issues in fundraising, giving you tips and strategies that we hope will be helpful for you and your organizations. Throughout the year, we’ll cover different types of donors (corporate, foundation, and individual), different parts of the fundraising cycle (research, cultivation, solicitation and stewardship) and important strategies and tactics (from connecting fundraising to your mission to crafting an end-of-year appeal).

We’ll start the series in this post with a statement that most of you know either explicitly or intuitively, but deserves its spot below in big bold letters:

Leverage the resources and community you have.

Let's break that seemingly simple statement down a bit:

  1. You have a great community that already loves what you do:  Parents. Teachers. Community leaders. Board members. Existing donors. Most of these people are eager to support your program in any way possible.
  2. You have a great program, with great stories. Show and collect the stories of your program through publications, emails, social media or tours. 
  3. Have the community that loves your program introduce THEIR networks to your program and great stories you have to show.

In practice, this final point can mean asking existing donors to invite their friends for a tour, where you show them your program (or even better, a kid shows them your program) so they can see firsthand what you do. It may mean giving board members an e-mail appeal template that has a story and a photo from your program to share with their friends. It could also mean inviting local officials or personalities with large audiences to participate in a Lights On Afterschool event or year end celebration as an emcee, so they can than amplify the message of what you do.

Fundraising is primarily about building a connection to your program, and to do that you need to have a clear central story, and a natural avenue for individuals to connect to your mission. Develop them both, and use them both.

There's more to come about creating this central story for your program and connecting people to your program's mission in the next blog. But for now, look at what you already have, and determine how that can help you increase capacity for the great work you’re already doing.

Grant opp.: Support for STEM, arts, community service, and more

Established in 2005, the Henderson Foundation seeks to provide support to community organizations across the country. Nonprofits (including afterschool and summer learning programs!) are encouraged to apply for funding that would support initiatives in the following areas: Education and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/08/18

Got a green thumb? Get a grant!

If your program features a youth garden, Green Education Foundation and Gardener's Supply Company want to help it thrive! To enter the Green Thumb Challenge, schools and youth groups (including afterschool programs) are encouraged to to submit chronicles of their garden projects...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      09/04/18

Grant opp.: Funding for hunger relief, environmental stewardship, and more

Looking for grant opportunities that will help your program do even more in your community? Save-A-Lot can help! Save-A-Lot supports organizations whose primary mission addresses the following focus areas: Hunger relief: Comprehensive hunger relief organizations and non-profit...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      08/13/18

Grant opp.: Fund a digital learning center for your program

Afterschool is an excellent opportunity to provide quality digital and computer science learning experiences to students who may not have the chance to get online during the school day – but only if the program has the resources to connect them to computer science education. If you’re...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/22/18

Grants for eco education from Captain Planet Foundation

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/16/18

Tips for applying to the New York Life Foundation's 2018 Aim High Grants

We here at the Afterschool Alliance are once again excited by the opportunity to administer the New York Life Foundation’s incredible Aim High Grant Program. For those of you who may not be aware, the Aim High program is part of the New York Life Foundation’s ongoing...

BY: Dan Gilbert      01/16/18

Grants up to $100,000 for middle school OST programs

The New York Life Foundation is seeking applicants for $1,050,000 in grants to middle school afterschool, summer or expanded learning programs serving disadvantaged youth. This is the second year of the Aim High grant competition. In all, 26 awardees will be selected based on their ability to help...

BY: Ursula Helminski      12/12/17

Up to $500 for creative programs from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is offering funding of up to $500 to design and implement a creative program for your school or library! Public schools, public libraries, and public preschool programs are encouraged to apply. Previous successful projects have included a public story walk, a...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/04/17

New funding opp: Discretionary grants up to $20,000

Looking for a way to inspire the youth in your afterschool program? Want to start a project but don’t have the necessary funds to start? The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation offers grants of different amounts for projects big and small! Through a fairly simple application process, you...

BY: Marco Ornelas      10/02/17

Grant opportunity: Start a garden or wildlife habitat at your local school

If your program focuses on local beautification efforts or gardening and ecology, the Wild Ones Seeds for Education program has a creative way to fund your projects! Your program could be awarded up to $500 to start a garden or wildlife habitat for native plants and animals in your local school....

BY: Marco Ornelas      08/15/17

Grant opp.: Support for STEM, arts, community service, and more

Established in 2005, the Henderson Foundation seeks to provide support to community organizations across the country. Nonprofits (including afterschool and summer learning programs!) are encouraged to apply for funding that would support initiatives in the following areas: Education and...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      10/08/18

Up to $75k for innovative initiatives and ideas to benefit kids

Take a moment to think about the work your organization does in promoting information and resources to your colleagues in the field. If you’re a communication and information leader in your community, apply for the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation’s 2018 grant...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/05/18

Up to $500 for creative programs from the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is offering funding of up to $500 to design and implement a creative program for your school or library! Public schools, public libraries, and public preschool programs are encouraged to apply. Previous successful projects have included a public story walk, a...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      12/04/17

New funding opp: Discretionary grants up to $20,000

Looking for a way to inspire the youth in your afterschool program? Want to start a project but don’t have the necessary funds to start? The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation offers grants of different amounts for projects big and small! Through a fairly simple application process, you...

BY: Marco Ornelas      10/02/17

Funding opportunity: Up to $1,000 for environmental service-learning

The future of the planet belongs to our kids, and afterschool programs offer one of the best opportunities for students and youth to engage in environmental stewardship projects that connect classroom experiences of environmental science with the real world. If your afterschool program has a focus...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      06/15/17

An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Collaborating with communications

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by the development team at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and sustain out-of-school time...

BY: Maria Leyva      05/16/17

8 firsthand tips to win the sustainability battle

Sustainability: it’s an ongoing struggle in the nonprofit world. Afterschool and summer learning programs are no strangers to writing sustainability plans and working tirelessly toward this goal. For many, sustainability is elusive. For all, it’s hard work. In...

BY: Jen Rinehart      12/16/16

An insider's guide to funding afterschool: Year-end appeals

The Afterschool Alliance is pleased to present the latest installment of "An insider's guide to funding afterschool," a blog series by Mike Burke, Director of Development at the Afterschool Alliance, featuring strategies to successfully fund and...

BY: Michael Burke      12/13/16