Fundraising ideas



Your advisory board members are a valuable resource when looking for funding. Some of them may be on the board of foundations, or may know others who are. The first step is to discuss the issue with them and see if they have any ideas. Then, take a look at this guide, adapted from the ADA :

The links below are a sampling of foundations that provide funding for accessibility projects.

NEC Foundation of America focuses on science and technology education and the application of technology to assist people with disabilities. This site outlines past recipients including museums and links to other foundations .

Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation funds projects and organizations that advance the independence, productivity, and community inclusion of young people with disabilities.

Foundations interested in underserved audiences that have funded museums in the past are: W. K. Kellogg Foundation and William Randolph Hearst Foundation

National Endowment for the Arts, Office of AccessAbility (NEA) provides grants to institutions that offer internships to college students with disabilities.

General Funding Resources
The Foundation Center ( provides links to private and corporate foundations, performs funding searches for geographic and subject areas, and posts updates on funding trends.

Look for foundations that fund diversity, inclusion, underserved populations, and accessibility in the arts, and, of course, those that specifically fund projects involving people affected by sight loss.

Research those that fund your community and geographic area in particular, or community related projects. Also research those that fund one of the groups you are serving, i.e. children with disabilities, seniors, etc.

Contests and Awards
Each year the American Association of Museums and the National Organization on Disability honor one museum for its work in the accessibility field with the AAM Accessibility Award. A cash prize of $1,000 from the J.C. Penney Company, Inc. accompanies the award. For more information about the program, contact the American Association of Museums at (202) 289-1818.

Tips on Grant Writing
In describing the need for an accessibility project, include target audience statistics. For example, about 20 percent of the United States population (some 54 million people in 1995) are classified as having a disability, with nearly half of them considered to have a severe disability (McNeil, J.M., Americans with Disabilities : 1994-95. Bureau of the Census . Current Population Reports, P70-61, Washington , DC : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997).

Using demographics of the museum's surrounding community may be even more persuasive. To find census data for a particular area, use the Bureau of the Census online searchable database.

Use input from focus groups, audience surveys, and/or advisory committees in writing the grant proposal. This will not only make the project better suited to its target audience, but also give valuable quotes that can be included in the "need" section of a grant proposal. See Access Advisors for suggestions on building community relationships.

In your application, stress the involvement of volunteers and docents, and low administrative costs.

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