As you are working on finalizing your new FY 2016 budget, you will want to consider some line item expenses that could be directly associated with potential alternative funding sources instead of draining your general fund. If you plan ahead, identify project-driven grant funding opportunities, and start building funder relationships, you can take some of the pressure off your general fund.
But first a few tips before we head into some example scenarios:
- Start looking for alternative funding now.
- Continue to look for alternative funding throughout the fiscal year; don’t wait until mid-winter of next year to start this process when you’re in draft budget preparation panic and deficit-driven denial mode.
- Call potential alternative funders. Introduce yourself and your municipality. Start a dialogue about your financial gaps and how each potential funder may be able to help you by accepting a grant application for smaller line items related to projects you’re struggling to undertake but that also meet their own funding priorities.
Community-Based Organization Projects
Here’s a scenario: Your city has partnered with the local historic preservation organization to assist with a massive infrastructure project to restore the original city hall building (built c. 1900’s decade) into a meeting facility for nonprofit organizations. Your governing body voted to allocate $25,000 toward their efforts. Sadly, the local organization has not been aggressive at fundraising on their own. Did you know that many corporate grantmakers, foundations, and even the federal government have some small grant funding programs for historic preservation projects? Here’s a short list to get you started on your grant research.
Funders for Historic Preservation Projects
• The National Trust Preservation Funds – Special Programs Grants
• Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors
• Emergency/Intervention Funding
• Hart Family Fund for Small Towns
• Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation
• American Express Partners in Preservation Grant Program
• Home Depot Foundation
Affordable Housing and Economic Development Projects
Does your municipality have an affordable housing plan or an economic development plan that continually carries over from year to year due to a lack of money in your general fund? Here are some funders for you to explore further and even engage in discussion with about your line item expenses that align with their funding priorities:
Funders for Housing and Economic Development Projects
• AARP Foundation
• John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
• Lincoln Financial Group
• U.S. Bank Foundation
Of course, these are just some examples to get you started. But getting started now is the key to prudent financial strategies that can protect the general fund. What’s your take on this topic? Leave a comment below.