Finding a grant for your playground
In this age of budget cuts, obtaining private grant funding is more attractive than ever. But how do you sort through the plethora of grant information and find the grant that’s right for you? You must follow a step-by-step process in your grant search, and remember it takes time and persistence to succeed. After you have written a grant proposal, it could take as long as a year to obtain the funds needed to carry it out. And even a perfectly written grant proposal submitted to the right prospect might be rejected for any number of reasons.
Finding a grant is an art as much as a science. The Internet is a great place to begin; start with search terms that describe your particular project (accessible playground grant, fitness grant, minority grant, grants by state, etc.) Also don’t forget to check local grant opportunities that may be unique to your town, county or state. Your local government can direct you to field offices or websites that will clarify these grant opportunities and how to qualify. Don’t forget to ask your playground manufacturer for help, if you’re working with GameTime, we provide grant guidelines and a comprehensive list of grant sources to help customers who are searching for a grant.
When you find a grant source whose funding goals match your project, remember to research the specific grant writing formulas that each source may wish to adhere to. Many funders today prefer a brief letter proposal; others require that you complete a grant application form before receiving an invitation to submit a full grant proposal; still others prefer a full proposal as a starting point. Be sure to understand these preferences, so you don’t waste your time, or that of the funder.
The first thing you will need to do in writing a grant proposal is to gather information. You’ll want to address the need that the grant will meet, and show that a project reinforces the overall direction of your organization, as well as matches the goals of the funder. They may need to be convinced that the case for the project is compelling. Perhaps funding the construction or renovation of your playground does not appear to fit a grant foundation’s guidelines, but with a targeted approach, the results may attract the foundation’s core belief. The important thing is to know your grant maker and be sure you tailor your proposal to meet their criteria. Much like a resume, this written information is all they will have to decide whether to further the process. Also like a resume, they receive hundreds of applications for each grant. Unless your grant proposal grabs their eye, it may get nothing more than a perfunctory glance before being tossed aside.
When preparing a grant application, there are key components to cover. They include the nature of the project, why it is necessary, and how it will be conducted; the timetable for the project; the anticipated outcomes and how best to evaluate the results; your background, primary activities, audience and services; and the budget needed to complete the project.
Grant review procedures vary widely, the decision-making process can take anywhere from a few weeks to six months or more. During the grant review process, the funder may ask for additional information either directly from you or from outside consultants or professional references. Some grant makers outline their review procedures in annual reports or application guidelines. If you are unclear about the process, don't hesitate to ask.
If your hard work results in a grant, be sure to acknowledge the funder's support with a letter of thanks. You also need to discover whether the funder has specific forms, procedures, and deadlines for reporting your project’s progress. Clarifying your responsibilities in the beginning, particularly with respect to financial reporting, will prevent misunderstandings and problems later.
Also keep in mind that rejection isn’t necessarily the end of the grant process. If you're unsure why your grant proposal was rejected, ask. Did the funder need additional information? Would they be interested in considering the proposal in the future? And remember, there's always next year! Use the grant request form on GameTime's website to request GameTime’s grant information worksheets, and to find out more from your local representative. Remember, grant funders like to see what the grant will be used for and your representative can provide renderings, top views and accurate cost estimates to include with your grant proposal. GameTime is proud to be the only playground company with such extensive grant resources. It’s all part of our dedication to “Enrich Childhood through Play.”