Dojo martial arts, or the study and practice of traditional combat arts in a specified training center, account for roughly half of all arts grant proceeds distributed by the United States Martial Arts Foundation. Generally processed through smaller local and regional arts councils and fitness foundations, these funds reach nonprofit dojos of all varieties every year.
When it comes to the study of martial arts in America, from Japanese to Chinese traditions, the majority of funding has historically been provided on a private-donor basis. Particularly in larger cities, where schools can reach the highest number of students, the demonstrated results of improved confidence, discipline, and self-esteem among young adults has given evidence to the benefits of practicing martial arts. While traditionally schools and dojos were responsible for their own funding, modern martial artists and practitioners are the fortunate inheritors of a philanthropic system where struggling dojos can receive the financial aid they require.
When researching and applying for nonprofit dojo grants, the best strategy is to begin research on a local level. Each state in the US is home to statewide and regional Arts Councils that function as distributors of government-donated funds. Traditionally geared towards visual, literary, and performing artists, some Arts Councils have been known to donate funds to nonprofit martial arts schools. In the state of North Carolina, for example, a dojo has the option of applying for an annual Community Arts Grant provided by the North Carolina Arts Council in additional to the Regional Artist Project Grant offered by numerous localized arts centers throughout the state.
Responsible for the distribution and development of over one billion dollars in arts funding each year, the National Endowment for the Arts consistently offers community arts grants on their government website. In addition to direct funding opportunities provided by the NEA, there are also numerous community arts grants available each year from the federal government that supply funding for community outreach and “after-school” programs provided by dojos. For more information, sign up to the Grants.gov daily newsletter for constant federal grant postings.
Perhaps the best option for nonprofit dojos, private foundations act as institutions that receive and regrant funds in accordance with their mission. These funds are generally raised or donated privately by a board of sponsors and philanthropists who then distribute custom-sized grant amounts based on the specific needs of each benefactor. Unlike federal and local grants, a foundation grant has no deadline for submission and is ultimately a private arrangement made between a nonprofit organization and the foundation. According to the online database found at FoundationCenter.org, there are currently more than a million foundations distributing grand funds in the US.
Applying for a Grant
The most common method among for researching and applying for grants is to dedicate a permanent staff-member as a grant writer. If the dojo is too small for this step, another common practice is to hire a grant writer who then fills out all necessary forms and budget sheets required by each grant. This person will also typically write the most important part of the application: the grant narrative. Here is where the organization makes their case for the grant funds, citing all affected communities, facts, and figures to the grantor. If your dojo cannot afford to pay the services of a grant writer, then perhaps the best decision is to roll up your sleeves and do the research and writing yourself. Keep in mind, however, grant applications tend to be meticulous, and must be read and re-read with a keen eye to the details in order to make certain you are eligible and can supply all of the necessary numbers.