top of page

Is a grant the answer for your school? (Not always)

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

Is a grant the answer for your school?

You want to do so much. You are facing a new school year with limited funds and even less time. How can you help your school achieve its goals? Is a grant the answer for your school?

Grants start with the grant-maker. It’s about their goals, their money, and their rules. But we can learn to work with them to meet OUR goals. Organizations create grants to meet a need. They have the funds. You have the expertise and capacity.

Grants are not the only answer

According to NP Source, seventy-two percent of donations to support nonprofits were given by individuals in 2017. Fourteen percent of those donations were given to support education. An effective fundraising program will not neglect this important source of financial support. But how can you recruit individual donors to support your school?

While most schools are not fortunate enough to be supported by a wealthy patron, it is beneficial to develop relationships with individuals who can support your school. If (nearly) every parent in your school gives a voluntary donation of $100 per year, you have a viable and sustainable funding stream.

Follow this link to check out the Donation Program at LEARN Charter Network:

Supplemented by larger individual donations from specific families or community members who can afford them, your program will grow. Recruit, recognize and maintain these important relationships.

What are other schools doing?

I surveyed my readers to learn what they think are the most successful ways to raise funds for their schools. 50% of my readers tell me that general fundraising is most successful for them. 25% rely on donations, and only around 8% have found success with grants. That matches my experience, as I face denials too often for the grants I write. Success rates for professional grant writers ranges from 10% to 60% on average. Schools cannot rely solely on grants for supplemental income.

Follow this link to check out the Sponsorship Program at Quest Academy

Business and corporate sponsors are also valuable partners. Some schools encourage local businesses to support their programs in exchange for advertising and recognition. It’s interesting to note that none of the school leaders who responded to my survey have found success in this area. However, I know of several schools that proudly post large banners from corporate sponsors. Their board members report that they have “no trouble” finding sponsors. It’s worth considering.

Other schools take advantage of matching grant opportunities from corporations where their families and community members work. If a parent makes a donation to your school, their employer may match the donation. Encourage your community to seek out these opportunities.

Grants CAN be a perfect partnership

Grants are designed to solve a problem that is important to the granting agency. Public grants are managed by a government agency and they are funded with tax dollars. The top scoring grant applications will be funded. Why shouldn’t your application be one of the best?

Private foundations are nonprofits and they are generally funded by donations, either from individuals or from other nonprofits. They must give away 5% of assets annually. These organizations are heavily regulated by the IRS. Total awards given will depend on their assets each year, but they must show how they met this requirement. Wouldn’t you like to be one of the grant winners?

While it’s true that some grants are highly competitive, it’s also true that someone gets the money. Why not your school?

What makes sense for your school?

It’s important to build partnerships with a variety of agencies and individuals to support your school. It’s like diversifying your retirement portfolio. It just makes good sense. But you also have limited time and resources to invest. So how do you decide where to focus your efforts in fundraising? Ask yourself who is the best partner for this project, and draw from several sources whenever you can.


Still have questions? Check out my series, Grant Writing for School Leaders. This series can take you from start-up to impact. Click on the links below to learn more.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!


Check out these related posts


Provide a new resource and help your teachers build new skills. You will be able to download and share the training. This is not a streaming video. I understand that you want to make this training available to your teachers. There are no restrictions.

Why? Because I believe that teachers who write grants become school leaders who write grants. And I am here to support charter school leaders with the resources and training you need.

Share the training with your teachers individually, or provide access during a professional development day. It’s yours to use as you wish.

Use this link for a special reader's discount:


Peggy Downs works with school leaders who want to leverage grants to dramatically increase funding, impact, and credibility for their schools. More info and a ton of free resources are waiting for you at:

Like what you see?

Click here to subscribe

35 views0 comments


bottom of page