Are You Ready to Apply?
Thinking about applying for a grant to fund Polar products and services and improve your program? Great! Before you begin working on an application, review the five questions below to ensure you are ready to begin pursuing grant funding for your physical activity program.
Grants are extremely competitive. Most programs make awards to just 5-10% of applicants, and some programs make awards to an even smaller percentage of applicants. Your application is more likely to be competitive if you've taken some key steps to prepare to apply before beginning to develop your grant application.
1. Do you have building and district-level administrative permission and support to apply for grants for physical activity and nutrition programs?
You can’t apply for grants without administrative support and permission. If youdon’t have both now, your first step should be to work on obtaining them as quickly as possible. Nearly all grant applications require the organization (not the individual contact) to be the official applicant. You will need administrator signatures on your application documents evidencing their permission to apply and approval of the application. Additionally, once funding is received, administrative support will be critical to ensuring smooth and complete project implementation and organization compliance with funder rules and requirements.
2. Can you show need?
When considering grants for physical activity and nutrition education programs, socio-economic demographics can be important, but the ability to provide other data (like poor fitness testing, BMI, or behavior survey results) is also very important. If you don't have this kind of information on hand now for at least a representative portion of your target population, you need to work on gathering it prior to trying to apply for a grant.
Note that if your school has a significant amount of equipment in good condition, a fairly up-to-date and comprehensive physical education (PE) program, and/or resources available to students that extend their physical activity opportunities outside of PE, you might not be able to show as much need as schools without those things. Clear need is critical to obtaining grant funding.
If you've received grants in the past and are looking to receive more grant funding, your biggest challenge will likely be to continue to show enough new or remaining need to make a compelling case.
3. Are you interested in funding for a project that includes more than just Polar products and services?
While we certainly want Polar products and services to play an important role in your grant project, we know that a comprehensive approach to addressing your local needs is more likely to be competitive than an application that is essentially just requesting funding for assessment tools. Take a look at what you need and apply a broad-based approach to your project design. If you feel strongly that you want to focus solely on Polar products and services, consider that other types of fundraising (outside of grants) may be better matches for your current focus.
4. Are you planning or willing to include project activities that extend outside of the school day?
While there are some grants for which this is not necessary, for many physical activity and nutrition education-focused grants available now, a school will have difficulty being competitive without including something outside of the school day. Typically, you can use grant funds to support these activities, so don't be discouraged if your organization does not have cash on hand to offer to support them. Also, keep in mind that these types of activities could be provided by the applicant and/or a community partner. If your organization is not in a position to offer out-of-school time programs, seek out a partner able to in order to include this important project component.
If you and your partners absolutely cannot offer anything outside of the school day, consider what other very unique project component you might include to entice the funder. Keep in mind that for most funders, adding something to your program that is unique to just your organization or even your region--but may not be unique compared to other areas of the country--may not be enough, especially if you are applying to a funder covering multiple states or offering a nationwide program. Think big, and aim for truly unique and innovative.
5. Do you have any community partners that could participate in the project to help enhance achievement of goals?
If not, are you willing to build partnerships NOW that would increase competitiveness and achievement of goals?
Partnerships are increasingly critical to receiving grant funding for most programs and especially for large-dollar and government-funded grant programs. If you do not have and are not in a position or willing to build partnerships at this time, grants may not be the best fundraising fit for your organization right now.
When you can answer "yes" to all five questions, you will be in a strong a position to begin applying for grants!