Obtaining Grants

Grants are specific funds given to an organization to perform specific functions. Unit, council and district PTAs may apply for grants in order to fund many of their projects and programs. Businesses, foundations and corporations give grants to causes they consider worthwhile. When applying for grants, PTAs may want to stress the points that public schools produce future employees, and that donations or gifts are tax deductible, as PTA is a 501(c)(3) organization. Organizations like the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Kiwanis, and Lions Clubs will make funds available for projects that fulfill their goals, such as programs addressing child abuse or substance abuse prevention.

The project for which a PTA is seeking grant funds must be one that promotes the Purposes of the PTA, is relevant to the PTA’s goals, and has been approved by a vote of the membership. PTA members must be committed to following through with the stated goals of the program. The project should be one that will not commit the participation of succeeding PTA boards.

If the PTA is serious about seeking grants, find someone with expertise in writing grant proposals. The local school district may have a qualified staff member. Seek the guidance of people who are knowledgeable about the intricacies of writing proposals.

The first step is to gather information about possible sources of funding. These include federal and state governments, private foundations, community foundations, private individuals, and nonprofit organizations such as United Way. Unit, council, and district PTAs may apply for grants in order to fund many of their projects and programs.

Grant Writing

A grant writing chairman can be appointed by the president to coordinate PTA grant writing efforts. When a PTA is interested in applying for outside funds to help implement a PTA project, a committee should be appointed by the president to look for sources of funding and to prepare the proposal.

Grant Request Process

Contact the grant source in writing with a brief letter of intent explaining the project.

Request the grant specifications from the donor and follow them carefully.

Find out who is responsible for reviewing grants and send the proposal to that person.

Follow up with a phone call if the donor has not responded within six to eight weeks.

Seek a personal meeting to explain the PTA’s proposal further. Be open to questions. Be succinct. If the proposal is not funded, ask why.

Recommend revisions for future proposals.

Accept the final decision graciously. Always properly acknowledge the donor’s generosity when the request is funded.

Proposals

When writing a proposal, provide detailed information about the proposed project. Most grant proposals have a distinct format, but the information sought by donors is often the same:

  • An introduction that describes the PTA association and its purpose;
  • An overview of the project and its specific goals;
  • A statement that defines the problem the project seeks to solve;
  • Statistics that substantiate problem identification;
  • The target population;
  • The project’s value to PTA and to the school community;
  • The proposed outcomes of the project;
  • An explanation of the activities the grant will fund;
  • A timeline for completion of the project;
  • A description of how the project will be evaluated; and
  • A proposed project budget that includes both expenses and in-kind services.

The grant writing chairman or committee should maintain a file of completed applications, individuals who are resources, and possible sources of funds to assist future committees. If a grant is awarded, the grant writing chairman is responsible for complying with the donor’s reporting requirements, including providing the unit’s IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN). A PTA may furnish a donor with an EIN if requested.

The treasurer must track all expenditures carefully; this information is a requirement in all grant donor reports. Keep the association aware of the progress of the grant application process, and use the reports submitted to the donor to inform the association of the project’s implementation progress.

All action taken on grant applications or project implementation must be recorded in the PTA minutes.

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