Funding for your STEM Club can come from many sources. You can apply for grants, approach local businesses or other organisations, or hold your own fundraising activities, such as making something and then selling it.
We’ve outlined some of the different places where funding for your club could come from here, but the Association for Science and Discovery Centres has a comprehensive fundraising guide for STEM Clubs, including example projects, tips on approaching funders, and how to measure impact and evaluate your funded activities.
A number of national STEM-based organisations provide grants that clubs are eligible to apply for – we’ve compiled them into a list for you.
Funders will want to support something that fits with their own organisation’s aims, so if you are looking for something to support a physics activity, then the Institute of Physics grant scheme would be a good place to try.
Funders are unlikely to pay for the general running costs of your club, so think about specific activities or discrete projects that you can get their support for.
Always read the criteria for funding carefully, and many funders are available at the end of a phone to talk through your application before you submit it. Funders want to support good projects so they will support you if they can. STEMNET Contract Holders are often able to support teachers in writing grant applications too.
Support from businesses
What does your STEM Club offer that could benefit a potential donor? Is it money you need, or could some in-kind support be just as useful? Do you have a specific project in mind that you need support for?
Similarly to funding bodies, consider what you are approaching businesses for. Financial support may be more forthcoming if you can offer something of value to them in return e.g. advertising in a prospectus, media photo opportunities, work experience students, or offer match funding.
Some businesses may be willing just to support the next generation of scientists and engineers, but if you are after funding for a project, then think about the different businesses that might have an interest in that project, for example, if you are building marshmallow spaghetti towers then you may get support from a structural engineering firm, or an architect’s practice, or even marshmallow manufacturers.
Talking to your local Contract Holder is a way to find businesses in your area, or you can search online. You might even find someone within school, or a parent or governor who had links with a local business. It is worth asking around for suggestions.
Within school fundraising
Small amounts of funds can come from fundraising within the school. This can be particularly useful if you are fundraising for one-off activity, such as a trip. You may want to make or grow something and sell it for a profit, such as growing herbs, or making fizzy bath bombs. This will also help raise the profile of your club within the school. Also car washes, bake sales and PTAs are other options.
There may also be some negotiation to be had within the school to access different funds. Offer to save the school money in one area for a proportion of the savings in return, for example an environmental project to reduce the school’s energy use.