The First Step

Are you interested in applying for grants, but don’t know how to begin? This is a series of weekly posts that will make the grant writing process more transparent. Grants can give you the funds you need for a variety of projects. Creating a new Teen Space, buying additional shelving, investing in technologies, and funding a series of programs are all viable projects for grants.

Before investing a ton of time, check in with your supervisor! See if your project is something that your supervisor will support. Even if your supervisor supports the idea of the project, be sure to convey that you want to seek outside funding and that you are interested in writing a grant. You may or may not be allowed to write a grant, so this bit of clearance is crucial! Once you get the green flag, then you can get started.

This first post will review what types of outside funding are available. By knowing more about the options, you can find the funding that best suits your project. There are two major types of funding outside of a library’s operating budget: grants and sponsorships. Within those options are a variety of subsets.

Table 1:

Table 2

Although there is always the exception, there are basic differences between grants and sponsorships. Knowing these differences will also help you better decide which path to take.

Table 2: Grants vs. Sponsorships

Grants Sponsorships
Applications typically must be turned in months in advance Depends on the sponsor, but can usually be requested a few weeks in advance
Applications can be long and tedious Can be as simple as writing a letter of request or attending a board meeting
Almost always needs supporting statistics Sometimes will require supporting statistics
Almost always requires a detailed final report, documenting expenses and results Letting sponsors know the results of funding is always a good idea, but not always required.
Can provide amounts of funding that are larger than what most sponsors can provide Can be for large or small amounts, depending on the sponsor.

Great way to obtain small amounts of funding without too much trouble.

Is a great option when sponsors have no additional funding available Is a great way to bring in community groups (FOL, DAR, Rotary Clubs, etc.)

After reviewing which types of funding are available, you may decide that a grant is best for you. Next week, we will review how to lay out all the details of your project. Knowing these details are imperative in the actual grant writing process. Even if you decide to go with a sponsor, this information is still very helpful! See you next week!

Jaclyn Lewis Anderson is the youth services director at the Madison County Library System. 


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