HOW TO Start A Fire Museum
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Fundraising and
Grant Writing
FUNDING - Dollars do make the world go round...

Unfortunately asking how to do fundraising, is like asking me for the exact path to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. - There is no "right" way.... and there is no pot of gold!

Fundraising of any sort is a "relationship" between you and the funder, and just like any relationship - it needs to be cultivate, (carefully) before you can reach a point of friendship, a point of trust, and a point where you can "pop" the big bucks question - "So how much can I put you down for?"

My advice is scan your department for people with contacts in local businesses or corporations. (remember it's not WHAT you know - but WHO you know!!). You need to get other (non-fire related) folks involved in your project. Try and get an attorney, a few business people, a school teacher, etc. (you want diversity among project members - old and young, black and white, male and female!!) these folks can/will come in handy as your plans progress and a museum organization emerges - AND - they can also be helpful in recruiting potential funding sources.

Where/how do you find these folks? Organize a few special events,(open houses, musters, displays etc..), where you can present you project to prospective members - and funders. You (we) have a distinct advantage over the average museum looking for money - we've got GREAT TOYS!! Take an old engine out to the local businesses and give the owners a ride around the block all the while hitting them up for more participation and/or funds to help in the "preservation and interpretation of this piece of history!"

When asking for money - ask the local business what you can do for them? Remember this is a relationship - and it's got to be a give - and - take! Perhaps you could to a display or presentation at their open house? Don't forget to do the local "service club circuit" (the Rotary, the Loins, the Kiwanis, etc....)

When seeking out the "big bucks" - you've got to find an "in" past the normal channels - look for board members, friends, relatives, etc. who know someone high up...

Don't be afraid to talk to other local museums! (although don't be disappointed if they aren't too excited to help - after all you are competing for the same hunk of pie) Ask if they might be aware of some funding sources which they don't qualify for and you would. Regardless - you should develop ties/relationships with your local museums anyway - they can help you when it comes time to put the thing together.

See also -

• Museums and non profit managment resources and links

• Internet Nonprofit Center - FAQ - See the section on "Development" for information about fundraising, grant writing, donations, holding special events, in-kind donations, and much, much, more!

The Foundation Center - Excellent resource for identifying foundations and help with grant writing

• Also look at The Foundation Center's On-line Library (this area has frequently asked questions, on-line training in grant writing, and links to other resources)

• Cornell University has posted "Finding the Funds You Need: A Guide for Grantseekers" as a downloadable ".pdf" file.

• The Indiana Historical Society has posted two great articles on their website, "The Agony and the Ecstasy: Developing an Annual Fundraising Program" and "Creating and Building Endowments for Small Museums"