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Obtain Funding


Whether you’re planning a studio event or helping teams prototype their solutions, securing funds can be a major roadblock. Have your studio pitch & a budget ready so you can start finding funding!

Outputs Obtain funding for studio events, prototypes, and travel to DFA Network events.(include something about prototyping materials etc.).

Effective ways to obtain funding:

  1. Review your studio goals and prioritize what events & projects needs funding the most.
    • Set specific targets so you can measure if you were successful with securing the money!
  2. Create a budget.
  3. Find 2+ sources of funding for studio events.
    • Look at departments/campus centers (Engineering, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Interdisciplinary/Multidisciplinary Research, Anthropology, etc.) or your school’s student activities group for opportunities or grants.
    • DFA National Impact grants are $250 or $500 grants. Email your fellow for more information about this year's grants and check below for how studios used the grants to support their studios.
    • Other possible ideas: Launching fundraising campaigns; charging an entrance fee for workshops; Selling swag or food, etc.
  4. Find 2+ sources of funding for projects.
    • Projects need funding for creating lo-fi prototypes (anywhere from paper and tape to Arduino boards), creating a video as a final prototype, setting up events or public installations, recruiting users for research or testing, etc.
    • Consider on-campus research grants, student competitions, undergraduate research deans for your college or university.
    • Check out “Train scrappy teams” to help teams think about ways to build lo-fi prototypes and ultimately get teams to secure more funding in the long run. You may be surprised by how teams can do a lot more with limited funding and materials than they think!
    • DFA National: Impact grants are also open for projects!
  5. Tell the studio about any opportunities or next steps.
    • Put important deadlines in your studio timeline.
    • Continue to work with your leadership team and mentor to ensure proposals are well done, submitted on time, and funds are spent appropriately.
  6. Support teams and studio leads in finalizing their proposals. Good proposals include:
    • A clear description of the event or project, the purpose, and the desired outcomes.
    • Address why this grant/department’s funding is necessary for your team.
    • Amount requested with a budget of expected expenditures.
    • Stories & visuals. You can use pictures of project outcomes, pictures and stories from meetings with users or partners, pictures of the team, etc.
  7. After using the funds, thank the funders/sponsors/donors for their contribution and show how their contribution benefited you!
  8. Document how funds were spent.
    • Recording how you spend your money is important for planning in the future and showing that you are responsible with the money you are given.

Network Best Practices

Hold an all-campus event sponsored by your college like DFA UC Davis

In Spring 2016, DFA UC Davis held a 4-hour design challenge event focusing on reducing waste in campus dining halls. As their projects are on a year-long timeline, the studio wanted to spread DFA’s name value on campus and provide an opportunity for non-members to experience DFA. Planning early, they applied to a grant back in Fall 2015 to the College of Engineering and created a partnership with Campus Dining Services to join their event as an expert. In their budget they included funds for prototyping materials, food, and also counted funding to bring CC, DFA National Fellow, to support the event. After the event, the studio leads packaged their event to follow up with College of Engineering! Check out the pictures from the event below:

DFA Impact Grant: Invite design professionals and professors for a panel like DFA WashU

In Winter 2015, DFA WashU held an Ethics of Human-Centered Design Panel. The panel focused on the ethics of designing for the people. As this was their first year on campus, the studio wanted to get their names out on campus and invite non-designer majors to DFA, while building relationships with the faculty and professionals. They worked closely with their mentor Liz Kramer to reach out to professors in WashU and professionals in St. Louis and ensure that a good crowd shows up to the event. Check out below for their event description and photos!