Chapter 5

In a perfect world, central administration on college campuses would jump on board with recycling and other sustainability issues and be fully supportive in providing long-term, stable funding. However, in many cases, this does not happen and recycling programs need initial funding to get started in order to prove that they are a worthwhile entity to keep on campus. Recycling sales will bring in some amount of revenue, but cannot be fully depended upon for operating costs due to market fluctuations. Therefore, other forms of funding need to be secured both to start a program and to ensure its longevity regardless of market trends.

Write a detailed budget in order to be able to be fully aware of each of the costs associated with starting the program as well as maintaining it. A good way to break the budget down is into two umbrella categories: initial (or one time) expenses and operating (ongoing) costs. These can then be divided further into more specific line items. For example, initial costs can include vehicles, sorting tables, and compactors. Operating costs can include ongoing expenses such as rent, water and electric bills, equipment maintenance, and labor. Educational programs can fit under the umbrella of operating costs, but should have separate detailed budgets with sub-categories such as labor, printing and advertising costs, and special events. The more detailed a budget, the better because financial supporters will be able to identify exactly how the money will be spent and why the amount of money being requested is justified. This also shows thoughtfulness, and considerable effort and follow-through on the part of the program organizers- all desirable characteristics in potential funding recipients.                                                                                                        

Forms of funding

 *Seed money pays for initial costs and will often be in the form of a lump sum at a project's inception, but not renewable over time. Prioritize program needs (bare minimum costs for equipment, labor, etc.) in order to get started. Secure seed money for basic needs and expand from there.

 *Grants provide a method of earning seed money or funds for special projects. Few grants are available for operating costs, but some do exist. When researching grants, search for those that closely align with the recycling program's goals. Be sure to include information in the grant proposal about how a recycling program will fulfill the purpose of the grant. Possible sources of grant funding include: government (e.g. EPA, DOE, and State Agencies), foundations, corporations, and non-profits with aligning missions.

 Grants can either be solicited or unsolicited. Solicited grants are accompanied by a Request for Proposal (RFP) which clearly states the specifications of the grant such as which individuals or entities are eligible to apply, page limits, amount of funding available, and budget guidelines. Read the RFP carefully as grants can be automatically disqualified from consideration if directions are not precisely adhered to. Unsolicited grants are those written to potential donors when an RFP has not been announced. Check foundation and corporation websites to determine whether or not unsolicited grants are accepted. Be aware of grant schedules (e.g. submission deadlines and award announcements). Some donors may accept grant applications on a rolling basis, while others may have a more structured award system with quarterly, biannual, or annual funding cycles.

 Colleges and universities often designate staff members within the Development Office as well as within individual departments specifically for grant research writing. Set up a network with these employees when searching for funding sources. Find out if there is a grant writing class on campus and a student or group of students who may be interested in working on a grant for the recycling program. Check with other departments to find out who has written grants in the past. Even if that person is not currently available to write a grant, he/she may know of someone who is able to be of assistance.

 *Matching funds are grants that require a program to already have a certain amount of money available or a plan to fundraise a specified amount of money. This type of funding gives the program leverage in requesting money from other donors because many potential sponsors are more likely to donate if others have done so already. 

  * Fundraisers are often most effective when a program is already fully established and requires funds for a particular project, but can also be an effective way of raising matching funds to receive grant money. Fundraisers can be large or small scale and take on many forms. Common fundraising strategies include phone banking (calling potential donors and requesting money), benefit concerts, dinners, or dances, raffles, auctions, or the sale of a novelty item such as a t-shirt, button, or mug.          

*Becoming part of a department on campus will make the program more financially stable in the long term. While seed money and grants may be part of the overall funding strategy, becoming a recognized campus entity will add to a program's longevity. It could be fully student-funded, fully funded by central administration, or a combination of both. Regardless of the funding model, make sure that contracts and agreements are in place to ensure that the recycling program is on campus for the long haul.

*Campus Recycling Programs have opportunities to generate revenue. In developing a funding strategy, it is important to focus on stable funding. Revenue is not a constant as markets are continually changing. Ideally, revenue should be saved for capital improvements to the program and for special projects.  

Funding Plans
A strong funding plan incorporates a variety of strategies so that there are back-ups within the system and the entire program is not hinging on a single income source. Funding plans generally include timelines for securing various sources of funding as well as Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) from supporting entities (e.g. foundations promising matching funds or on-campus departments agreeing to provide operational funding and oversight). A funding plan is especially important when establishing a program in order to prove that it will be an asset to a college or university. See Economic Argument in Chapter 3: How to Start a Recycling Program for further details.    

Campus Sustainability Initiatives  
Use the college or university's mission, environmental policies, or pledges as reason for a recycling program's existence. Showing how a program can fit into the campus's current operational, as well as social and academic structures, is essential to garnering widespread support. Be convincing. Outline how a recycling program and other sustainability efforts will help to create a positive public image for the campus.  These efforts will attract more students while meeting the campus goals of carbon neutrality.    


Environmental Grantmakers Association 

Environmental Grantmakers Association Links for Grantseekers 

EPA Environmental Education Grants 

EPA Funding for Solid Waste Management and Recycling 

EPA Grants and Fellowship Information 

Government Grants