We have seen our school PE budget drastically decrease in the last decade – I actually use no money from the school to run my program. The students pay a minimal fee, but it isn’t a lot to do all of the activities that we do, or to cover equipment. A lot of people don’t think that it’s right for teachers to have to find money (grants, donations, etc.) for programs that they are running, but I want to run a fun and successful program, so I do it for the students.
During one two year period I was working hard to apply for grants and donations for Women’s PE 11/12 and Outdoor Education 11/12, and actually received over $7000.00 in grants and over $10,000.00 in equipment donations – that doesn’t even take into consideration all of the people who have dedicated their time and services! Here are my top tips on how to fund your program:
1. Apply for grants
We have received local grants, national grants, and grants for participating in research on girls and physical education. Emphasize what is unique about your students or your program. Does your program benefit certain groups of people? Are you fulfilling a need in your school/community? How could their donation make a positive impact on your school or community?
2. Contact businesses for equipment donations
Make your calls or emails personal, and contact small businesses in your community, as well as large corporations in other cities. Tell the company what you are doing, why it is important, and what their donation could mean for students. We have received new equipment, samples, and returned items that are in good condition, but cannot be resold. We have even received extremely discounted accommodation rates in return for a donation tax receipt.
3. Reach out to the community
I have found that most businesses want to give back to the community. Many people in the health and wellness field are passionate about what they do and they want to share their knowledge and services. New businesses are also very keen on getting new clients in the door, and often not only give you free or discounted services, but also promotional gear that you can give to students as prizes. I feel guilty asking some people for a donation for the tenth year in a row, but they keep happily donating, so I guess I’ll ask again next year!
4. Use connections
Are there teachers in your school who have a health or wellness background? Do you have a student in your class who excels in a sport? Do you have a student in your class whose family owns a health and wellness business? One of the educational assistants at our school owns a martial arts studio and has taught my class self defense on several occasions. One student’s family was heavily involved in logger sports and had everything set up in their backyard, so we were able to participate in and watch those activities. Sometimes you don’t realize what is right under your nose, so get to know the people around you.
5. Have them come to you
It is great to get out into the community, but if it is too far to walk, you also have to pay for transportation. Suggest to businesses that they come to you. You will save on transportation costs, and many guest instructors will often teach a class for less money if you supply the space.
Make a class goal – maybe new equipment, a field trip, or class t-shirts. Students appreciate things more when they work for them, and working towards a goal as a class can be a great community building exercise. There are many fundraising activities, but one of my favourite is selling flowers through Veseys. It is easy, you’re not selling junk, and you keep half the funds that you raise.
I always make sure that my students and I express our gratitude, and I believe that that is why so many people repeatedly donate their time and/or resources to my programs. It may sound simple, but I try to always do the following:
1. Ensure that my classes are gracious during the class and that everyone says “thank-you” at the end.
2. Send a follow-up thank-you email and/or mail a signed thank-you card with personal comments from all participants – include a photo using the donation if applicable.
3. If the donor is on social media I will post their information so that students can “like” and share it. We have also written testimonials which were much appreciated.
4. Send a write-up and photo to the local newspaper or post it on an applicable site.
5. Repay the favour if possible. An example of this would be our class volunteering to do lawn prep and ground maintenance at our local lawn bowling club as a thank-you gesture.
Good luck! Your hard work is appreciated! And make sure you let me know if you have a good hook up 🙂