ERIC Identifier: ED359067
Publication Date: 1993-07-00
Author: Heimlich, Joe E. - Puglisi, Dawn D.
Clearinghouse for Science Mathematics and Environmental Education Columbus OH.
Finding Funding for Environmental Education Efforts. ERIC/CSMEE
Communities and schools frequently find that some part of their physical
environment may need action to improve it. A group may decide to do a site
cleanup, undertake beautification of an area, create a land laboratory, or
establish a community education campaign on a current issue of interest.
Sometimes, the creative process runs into the cold hard fact that there are
limited local financial resources to fund the effort. This digest will highlight
steps in identifying potential sources for funding and how to apply for those
TYPES OF SOURCES
The two most common types of monetary
awards to groups and individuals are: (1) grants and (2) gifts. Gifts are
donations of monies or in-kind services or goods made to individuals or groups
for which there is no expectation of outcome by the giver. A fast-food
restaurant's donation of beverages to a work-group and a local philanthropist's
gift of money to what is personally viewed as a "worthy" cause are outright
gifts. A grant, on the other hand, is usually awarded to a group or individual
based on the perceived merits of a proposed project. For small efforts, a gift
is often more expeditious and easier to obtain than a grant.
For larger and more expensive projects, a grant is usually more appropriate.
Grants are offered by governments, foundations (usually affiliated with an
industry or company, institutions, or organizations.
Sometimes, grants are awarded based on needs of the funder. In these cases
the contractors request proposals from the group or individual seeking funding
based on parameters that the funder explicitly states when offering funding. For
most groups interested in environmental projects, it is more likely that a
foundation that awards grants based on individual consideration of the proposal
will fund a project.
There are various ways to identify foundations that may fund an environmental
project and to apply for funding. The process has four steps.
STEP ONE: DEFINE YOUR PROJECT
Before looking for monetary
support, it is important that the group identify what it wants to do or
accomplish. This step helps the group avoid "chasing after money," which is
often a fruitless effort and requires a great deal of time. The group should
determine what it wants to do in the terms of goals and outcomes.
What are the goals of the project? Very often, groups make the mistake of
identifying goals as what will be done, rather than the real goal. Creating
signage for a nature trail is not a goal, but a means of accomplishing the goal
of having good signage along the nature trail. Goals are the end result of what
the group will do. And goals have outcomes.
Outcomes drive the goals. Using the above example, why is good signage
important? The outcome might be that there is improved probability that users of
the nature trail will understand what they are observing. Another outcome might
be the availability of information along the trail that is not visually
disruptive or that blends into the environment. Agreement within the group on
goals and outcomes of the project is important before the group even begins to
look for funding opportunities.
How extensive is the group effort to be? Realistically, what are group
members willing to do? The extensiveness of the project must be determined
before asking for funding. Few, if any, foundations will award money to fund a
project where the group requesting the funding does not do any of the work. The
commitment of the group must be reflected in a realistic project.
Finally, the group needs to establish a realistic timeline for completing the
project. In initial discussions, talk among the group members should reflect how
long people will be willing to commit to a particular project and how long
actual work on the project will take, including time for unplanned occurrences!
Most grants are awarded on dates determined by the granter, and there is a "lag"
time between submission and awarding of monies.
STEP TWO: SEARCH FOR FUNDING SOURCES
There are many
reference tools to help a group get started in identifying possible funding
sources. The list of references at the end of this digest is a good place to
start. In addition, local organizations and local and state government agencies
often have grant programs that may not appear in references. It is well worth
the time invested to talk with environmental associations in your area to
discover if they are aware of additional funding sources.
STEP THREE: SELECT SOURCES THAT FIT YOUR PROJECT
because a foundation awards money for environmental projects does not mean that
your project will fit within the foundation's guidelines for funding.
Foundations and agencies have annual reports that describe what projects were
funded each year. These reports describe the foundation's goals and also provide
important information such as:
the timeline for submitting grant applications or proposals.
the current or emerging interests of the foundation.
geographic limitations (if any) for funding projects.
types of projects and descriptions of past projects funded.
Using this information and the information in the directories, you can
identify the funder(s) most likely to fund your group's projects.
STEP FOUR: TAILOR YOUR PROPOSAL
There is no "magic formula" to writing a proposal or completing an application form. There are, however,
some tips that can be offered:
Read the materials from the funding source carefully. The language used, the
style of writing, the urgency of the issues are all contained within the writing
of the materials.
Emulate this writing style. Use the type of language the funder used, but avoid
"parroting" back exactly what the funder wrote. Respond to all the issues that
are relevant. Include what you need to include, but avoid extraneous words,
ideas, and materials.
Follow application instructions. Carefully complete any application or proposal
using the guidelines for the foundation or agency. Check and recheck to ensure
that everything needed is included, and nothing extra is added.
Be explicit about the outcomes of the project. Most agencies and foundations are
interested in results. It is important to focus on what will happen as a result
of this funding that will benefit your community, your group, society, and the
funder. These outcomes are sometimes called "deliverables," meaning that upon
completion of the project, there will be certain tangible items that the funder
Be creative. It is often the unique quality of a particular proposal or
application that determines what projects secure funding. What is it that can
make your particular project unique?
Use resources available. There are many reference materials available on writing
grants and application. It is worth the time for the writer(s) to review some of
the suggestions in these materials.
Whatever happens, there are no guarantees. You may think that your project is
perfect and that you may have a tremendously well-written application but yet
not receive funding. Or another time, you may have a hastily written proposal
that is funded. There are many factors outside your control that determine
funding. The answer is to be prepared, do the best writing possible, and keep on
Bowhen, R. R. (1992). Annual register of grant
support: A directory of funding sources. (Details grant support programs of
government agencies, public and private foundations, community trusts as well as
other funding sources.)
Coley, S. M., & Scheinberg (Eds.). (1990). Proposal writing.
Elmcki, S. E., & Romaniok, B. R. (Eds.). (1992). America's new
foundations: The sourcebook on recently created philanthropies. (3300 private,
corporate, and community foundations created since 1986. "Offers unique funding
opportunities... these foundations smaller sizes and brief giving histories
often cause them to be passed over, or not even considered...")
Environmental Grantmaking Foundations. (1992). (Includes text, grants data,
and analysis of foundations that give environmental grants.)
Feczko, M. M., & Olsen, S. (Eds.). (1991). Directory of new and emerging
foundations. (Lists grantmaking foundations established in the U.S. from
Feczko, M. M. & Olsen, S. (Eds.). (1993). The Foundation Directory.
(Details giving interests of the nation's largest grantmaking foundation.)
Grants for elementary and secondary education. (1992). (Covers grants in the
U.S. and abroad to private and public schools.)
Grants for environmental protection and animal welfare. (1992). Grants to
nonprofit organizations. (Grant areas include natural resources, conservation,
nature centers, zoos, and environmental education.)
Grants for women and girls. (1992). (Details grants for education, research,
and service as well as giving information on subject areas of previous grants,
geographic location, and name of successful awardees.)
Jankowski, K. E. (Eds.). (1992). The directory of corporate and foundation
givers: A national listing of the 8,000 major funding sources for nonprofits.
(Descriptive profiles tell whether a program is associated with a private
foundation, corporate foundation, or a corporate direct giver.)
Kovacs, R., Hodges, D., & Tobiasen, C. (Eds.). (1992). The foundation
grants index 1993: A cumulative listing of foundation grants reported in 1991.
(Indices include: grant recipients, subject areas funded, geographic
distribution, and type of support given.)
Lee, C. L. (1991). National guide to funding for the environment and animal
Margolin, J. B. (Eds.). (1991). Foundation fundamentals: A guide for
grantseekers. (The Kid's Guide to Social Action. "How to solve the social
problems you choose--and turn creative thinking into positive action.")
Olsen, S., Kovacs, & Haile, S. (Eds.). (1991). National guide to funding
for women and girls. (Lists grants of $5,000 or more.)
Romaniok, B. (Ed.). (1992). Corporate and foundation grants. (A comprehensive
listing of more than 95,000 recent grants to non-profit organizations in the