With a hurricane of funding cuts on the horizon, the word “budgeting” has never been scarier. From pinching pennies in an already frugal environment to researching proposed spending cuts, it’s hard to not feel overwhelmed. If your admission charges can’t cover your costs, what are you going to do? Well, like Luke strapping into the X-Wing for the rebel’s final stand, don’t lose hope just yet.
The funding is out there, you just need to know where to look — and the best part? It’s free money. To find the proper capital for your makerspace, you’ll need three things: a whole bunch of determination, a little bit of preparation and sprinkling of sweat-equity.
Now, are you ready to learn the dollars and cents of your makerspace? Here are the best cost-free, money-making tactics for your creative environment.
Build Your Organization
One of the easiest ways to start generating revenue is by elevating what it means to be a participant in your makerspace. Instead of operating solely as a learning space open to anyone looking to get creative, think about adding a club aspect to your organization. By constructing a maker club, a group of like-minded individuals joining together to assist the makerspace and each other, you’re adding an elite level for participants. Along with increased membership fees, the club needs to be lucrative — you need to give people a reason to join. From increasing build time in the makerspace to offering priority placement and special sessions to club members, try to find exactly what your creators want. What can you offer them that they cannot get anywhere else?
Now, there are quite a few perks to a maker club. One of the biggest is that you’re actively growing your brand. Word will spread, and you will be actively working to raise the public’s level of interest in your makerspace simply because you are offering special, once-in-a-lifetime rewards and opportunities to your members. In order to get the most out of the word of mouth bolster, your club needs to bring in the big guns — take the time to build a club that people want to join.
Secondly, maintaining an active club makes it that much easier to host fundraisers. While fundraisers were definitely already in your wheelhouse, a club can double as a support system. By sharing the responsibility of running a successful fundraiser, your members are your volunteers and your brain trust. Who do they know in the community that can help your makerspace raise money? What ideas do they have to share with you? By polling your audience, you’re more likely to find traction with the organizations already established in your community. From churches, societies and city-sponsored groups, effectively utilizing the prominent associations in your area can be your stepping stone into larger galas and resources. And, at the very least, you’re introducing your makerspace to groups of people at a time, rather than individually. Get creative and find ways to share your passion with your community.
Lastly, try to find ways to transform the things happening in your makerspace into net gains. Now, this is a slippery slope to walk, but, depending on the type of creating you’re fostering, you might be able to start selling projects. One way to do this is with a make sale. Similar to its bake sale cousin, a make sale not only showcases the achievements of your students, but it allows you to clear up space in your environment while still padding your wallet.
Disclaimer: if you are looking to profitize the creations of your makerspace, you need to be careful to not transform the mindset within the creative zone — you don’t want your creators to lose sight of why they create. It isn’t about the money for them. But, hosting an annual spring make-sale can also be used to your advantage. What’s better than adding fuel to the creative fire with a showcasing event?
Follow the Money
There is money out there. Money specifically set aside for organizations like yours. But, it won’t be handed to you. You’ll need to work for it. It’ll take time, it’ll take effort and it will take planning, but, at the end of the day, with a $10,000 grant in your pocket, will you really be complaining?
From nation-wide opportunities to state-focused ones, there are thousands of grant opportunities out there for you to take advantage of. All you need to do is to bite on one. For a complete list of available grants, head to our Grant Database HERE and start pursuing your opportunities. On top of grants, there are also a ton of company sponsorship and scholarship possibilities out there.
Now, we know, grant proposals are daunting tasks — their intimidating, time-consuming nature is what keeps most from ever applying. Luckily, at PCS Edventures, we’ve broken the steps down for you.
When you’re ready to start your grant pursuits, head over to the whitepaper, STEM Grant Writing: The Top 10 Tips to Building a Successful Grant Proposal for the full rundown of exactly what it takes to start seeing the dollars rolling in.
Again, it all comes down to putting the work in. If you’re determined enough to devote yourself to the task, there is nothing that can stop you from capitalizing on the wealth of resources available to your makerspace.
Looking for more? Tune in to The Magnificent Makerspace Webinar on June 7th and automatically be entered to win a fischertechnik 3D Printer!
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Chief Author and Editor of Creative Content