Most people agree that the financial capability of individuals directly affects the strength of our country as a whole. Ben Bernanke, current Federal Reserve Chairman, had this to say about the importance of financial literacy in the U.S.: “We are reminded of how critically important it is for individuals to become financially literate at an early age.”
Although the recent recession put people in challenging financial positions, one positive thing arose from those problems: there is more financial literacy funding available. For example, financial literacy grants, sponsorships, and funding through collaborative efforts have increased. Every man, woman, and child needs to learn about money at some point in life. In the past, most people picked up financial skills through trial and error—but now there are organizations all across the country helping people learn vital money skills.
The recent focus on the economy has highlighted stories about people living with financial struggle. This increased attention has led to increased awareness about the need to expand financial literacy programs. To accommodate such expansion, we’ve seen a sizeable boost in financial literacy funding sources.
It is important for your organization to focus on maximizing financial literacy funding, especially when you receive a financial literacy grant. Many organizations waste a lot of time and money when they receive funding for financial education because they recreate products and services that are already on the market. We recommend that you locate financial education resources already on the market and proven effective. That way you can maximize your program’s reach and have greater impact in your community. And when you apply for funding next year, your grant application will be that much stronger.
While many organizations wait for financial literacy funding to make it through the grant pipeline, others pursue alternative funding methods. One method that has become increasingly popular is forming relationships between corporations and nonprofit organizations (including schools).
Hosting financial education workshops can be a great way to draw attention and attract the interest of the community and potential sponsors. If you are hosting a typical financial literacy class, begin planning how you might turn that class into a unique experience for both participants and sponsors.
The NFEC has also noted that many organizations focus attention on developing financial education resources, but forget about the instructors. The quality of the educators makes a tremendous impact on program effectiveness, so make sure a portion of your financial literacy funding goes to “training the trainer” programs.
Teaching people money skills is different from any other subject. Why? Because there are so many emotions tied to money. So when providing financial education instruction, delivering the material in a way with which the audience can relate emotionally becomes critically important. Having trainers who are skilled in teaching kids about money will be vital to your financial education program’s success.
Another idea to stretch your financial literacy funding dollar is matching your presentation to the target group. For instance, you teach kids about money differently than you would seniors. Your financial education program should match the taste and style of the participating group. Tailoring each presentation ensures that participants retain the information, and makes your financial literacy funding dollars go farther.
An important factor to consider when you apply for financial literacy funding is the reach and frequency of your message. That is, how many people will you serve, and how often will you reach them? The conclusion may be obvious; you will probably receive more financial literacy funding by reaching more people, increasing message frequency, and demonstrating program effectiveness.
Successful financial literacy funding initiatives deliver a true ROI (return on investment). But return on investment doesn’t have to be financial. It can take the form of media coverage, community goodwill, or building relationships. When you seek financial literacy funding, always consider what you can do to support the donor—and then over-deliver on your promises.
Fortunately, expansion in the financial education services industry means that many groups have stepped up to provide support for such programs and thus financial literacy funding options have increased. These opportunities can help your organization build sustainable financial education programs to serve people for many years to come.
Whether you receive financial literacy grants or other types of funding, your goal remains the same: to reach as many people as possible and truly inspire them to take positive action toward improving their financial futures.