We read a lot of news articles about after school programs losing funding through federal grants. It seems hopeless … but where there’s a will, there’s a way. You wouldn’t let the children in your program give up, would you? It’s not going to be easy, but here are some ideas we hope will help.
1. Request the Help of Your Community
Have a series of community meetings to ignite the troops. Show them how your program helps the community. Have current and former program participants talk to the community about what your program means to them and urge them to help you save your program. You may be pleasantly surprised by how your community will come through.
One school district in New York lost funding for their before and after school program. The parents knew how important it was to have this program for the children and the community. They started their own non-profit program, PS11 Programs Inc., and worked with the school district to provide before and after school care. For each paid registration for PS11 Programs, a scholarship is offered to another child whose family couldn’t afford it.
2. Request the Help of Businesses in Your Community
Teach business owners what your program does for the community and how your participants could be future employees of those businesses. There is a lot of research that shows the programs you provide, help build a stronger future for children and their families. Use this research and then ask these businesses if they could help your program.
SchoolLeadersNow has a blog article, “How to Land a Corporate Donation for Your School” which provides a framework of how to ask for donations from businesses. It needs to be a win-win both for your program and the business. Visit the SchoolLeadersNow site for more articles on fundraising including articles on corporations who participate in fundraisers.
3. Sift Through Current Program Financials
Take a deep dive into your program’s financials. Does your program have a hard time collecting payments? Does your program charge late payment fees or late pick-up fees for after school care?
When reviewing financials, sometimes programs find a gaping hole in their collection processes. Programs who have a hard time communicating and collecting fees will lose the ability to be self-sustaining. Make sure to have the right collection policies in place, the right software to collect the fees, and great communication with the families as to what is expected. Just by adding a way for parents to pay online through a family portal or requiring auto-pay at time of registration, will help keep your program running.
When one Arizona school district started collecting late pick-up fees, they received $3,000 in the first week. If your staff stays late because parents are running late, their salary still needs to be paid. Charging late pick-up fees are one way to ensure that the additional funding is there.
It is possible to have a strong program with the backing of businesses and your community. The right program management software like Eleyo, that helps with fee collection will ensure your program is running smoothly. You’re just going to have to show that your program is an investment for the future. You can do it!