The Ultimate Guide: Fundraising for Water Bottle Filling Stations in Schools
Water Bottle Filling Stations for Schools Grants
Fundraising for Schools
If you’ve made it to this guide, you’re probably already aware that water bottle filling stations in schools are completely changing the way people consume and perceive water.
According to elkayezh2o.com, Elkay has saved 4,208,988,517 plastic bottles from waste with their bottle fillers.
While the impact of these products is undeniable, so is the hefty price tag.
Simply need a trusted store to shop for bottle filling stations? We recommend visiting BottleFillingStations.com.
Luckily, due to their positive environmental, health, and economic impact, there are grants available for water bottle filling stations.
For that reason, we decided to publish a guide that covers the best practices in locating and accessing funds.
Why are we doing this?
Our mission at BeCause Water is to reconnect your community to the value of water. We believe that greater access to clean, sustainable water is an instrumental part of achieving our mission, which is why we serve as a full-service resource for Bottle Filling Stations.
How did we become the experts in fundraising for Water Bottle Filling Stations?
At this point, we’ve worked with hundreds of schools and almost all of them have one thing in common – the need for funding. So we decided to offer fundraising assistance that would ultimately result in greater water sustainability impact.
While every school’s campaign is different, we’ve deconstructed and organized the common elements of success. Whether you’re a student, administrator, or nonprofit leader, this guide will equip you with what you need to turn your idea into a reality.
Step #1: Define Your “Purpose Statement”
Why are you starting a campaign to install water bottle filling stations?
Is it because you’re fed up with people carrying around wasteful bottled water, or are you just a REALLY thirsty person? (no judgement..)
Give this some thought and WRITE IT DOWN. Use keywords that mean something to you (spoiler alert – that’s who this is for).
For example, “I am campaigning to implement Bottle Filling Stations at Rogers High School because I know this will help our community rethink the importance of water, the most essential resource to mankind. I choose to be part of the solution — not the problem.”
Step #2: The Winning Team
“If you want to go fast – go alone, if you want to go far – go together” – African Proverb
Bottle Filling Station campaigns are the ultimate team sport. They require contribution from various roles within your community.
The champions are the catalysts behind the campaigns — the ones who are passionate about the issue and are committed to leading this project to its fruition. Campaigns can be comprised of one or multiple champions including students, faculty, administrators, or local nonprofits.
The Decision Maker
No matter how much money you raise, you’ll still need approval to install the bottle filling station from your Principal, Vice Principal, Director of Facilities, or someone else in administration that oversees these types of projects. TAKE NOTE – the decision maker almost always approves projects when there is a clear plan in place.
Faculty or Administrative Advisor
If you’re a student or nonprofit professional, you probably don’t have the same insight and capabilities as the faculty or admin members at your school. An advisor will advocate for you and help you navigate the waters throughout the process.
Unsure who to ask to be your advisor? Common advisors are any teachers or administrators who have some type of environmental or health interest. The value propositions formed in the next section will help you approach your potential advisor.
Installing Bottle Filling Stations requires a licensed plumber. Due to the high cost of plumbing, we always recommend asking your facilities team to take on installation. If they are unwilling, contact our support team to be connected to a licensed installer in your area.
The Funder is the person or group who is actually funding your campaign. We’ll cover where and how to attain funds in the sections ahead.
Eventually you’ll need to purchase the Bottle Filling Station. Make sure you buy from trustworthy distributors, who are selling new, not used, products.
Also note that Bottle Filling Stations are technical products so we advise to be weary of certain broad-focused megastores. While prices may be low, you won’t get the same customer support that you’ll find from companies who specialize in water sustainability.
Incoming shameless plug…
BeCause Water is a full-service resource for Bottle Filling Stations. We specialize in fundraising consulting, product advisory, fulfillment, troubleshoot support, and provide free media coverage for your Bottle Filling Station project.
We’ve worked with hundreds of high schools and colleges across the Country including Boston Public Schools, Wellesley College, University of Northern Colorado, University of Texas, Tennessee Tech, and many more.
If you don’t have any funding or promotion needs, check out BottleFillingStations.com – a Specialty Online Store for Bottle Filling Stations with very low prices.
Step #3: Identify Funding Sources
Good news — there are TONS of sources for you to fund your Bottle Filling Station campaign. These money pools won’t apply to everyone, but with a bit of detective work, you’ll be able to determine the ones that work best for you.
UPDATE: Read our “List of Grants for Water Bottle Filling Stations”
Internal sources are funding opportunities within your high school or college. The following sources are listed in descending order, weighted by highest amount and most common pools of funding.
Are you currently part of a club that is taking on this initiative? If not, can you find an eco, civic, or health focused student group that might be willing to join forces? Organizations are often looking for worthy causes to allocate their funds. This may be the quickest and easiest way to secure initial funding.
While this may require a well-crafted proposal (which we’ll go over later), you may be surprised how open Principals, Vice Principals, School Boards, or Superintendents are to the idea of upgrading their means of accessing drinking water. Most schools have a “General Fund”, or something similar, which is used for discretionary spending. It’s also possible to garner funding through the following departments:
- Facilities Department
- Food/Nutrition Services
- Athletic Department
- School Nurse / Health Department
Funding appropriations for projects that are beneficial to the school are rewarded regularly in both high schools and colleges. SG funding rewards in high schools can range between $200-$1,000 and in college about $1,000-$10,000.
Yes, believe it or not – your student body can actually put a significant dent into the funding total. It’s common for high schools to hold cause-based fundraisers that collect 1 or 2 Dollars during homeroom. Add up those dollars and you could be looking at a hefty amount of funding to support your initiative.
Unique School Grants
These are a bit more rare, but definitely worth exploring. Often times, there are grants available that fit certain health, environmental, or civic-focused criteria, and well whataya know… your initiative checks all three boxes.
External sources are funding opportunities outside of your high school or college. The following sources are listed in descending order, weighted by highest amount and most common pools of funding.
Parent Teacher Associations (PTA)
Applicable to K-12 schools, PTAs are extremely effective at helping facilitate fundraising efforts. Look on your school’s website or simply ask a teacher to connect you to the appropriate contact for your initiative.
Local nonprofits are often tremendous supporters of Bottle Filling Station campaigns. These consist of grants or in-kind donations anywhere from $1,000 – $10,000. Examples include environmental, health, faith-based, hospitals, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and other local service groups. See if the organization has an existing grant that would fall in line with your initiative. If not, they may have a discretionary budget or know individual donors who may be interested.
Examples of nonprofit grants are as follows. If you know of others, please leave them in the comment section.
Corporations will also be interested in sponsoring your initiative. Track down local corporations in your town like banks, insurance, or other institutions who may have programs set up to give back to the community. Companies may have divisions such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, or Corporate Citizen Engagement.
Best Practice: Visit your local library to access the “Foundation Directory Online” -a free database of local foundational and corporate funding sources. Also, feel free to contact us if you’d like us to explore funding opportunities in your community.
Local, State, and Federal agencies may have grants available for local initiatives.
You may even find a grant open specifically for Bottle Filling Stations. Here is one example of a Grant specifically for Bottle Filling Stations in Portland, ME.
If you’re not one of the lucky ones to have a specific bottle filler grant available in your community, you may still be able to spark up funding support by talking to the following groups in your town. CAUTION: this method may yield the slowest results.
- City Councilors, Town Selectman, Mayor, or Board of Supervisors.
- Water Department
- Public Health Department
Receiving funds directly from constituents in your community is another source of viable funding. Door to door donation requests or car washes may sound like a lot of work, but they could be worth it in the end. We’ll dig deeper on this in the next section.
Investigate which alumni have donated to your school. Perhaps you have a famous athlete, actor, or business person who attended your school? Not to mention this is a great excuse for a world-class networking opportunity!
Step #4: Consider the Funding Methods
Now that you know where to access funds, we’ll go over the ways you can assure they end up in your hands. Note that the methods below are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Direct proposals are simply a formal way to make the case for why your project should receive funds.
In a perfect world, you could text message your Principal, “Plz send funds for these super cool new bottle fillers :)” But until we reach that utopia, you’ll likely have to write a formal email describing your request and its proposed impact on your school and community. We’ll cover “value propositions” with more detail in the next section.
One of the most popular ways to raise funds, crowdfunding is an online mechanism of fundraising that pools funds through your online network by way of social media and virality.
One of the major benefits of a crowdfunding campaign is the ability to incorporate media such as a short video that introduces the campaign leaders and your cause. Also, crowdfunding gives people the option to pay via Credit Card, which makes a big difference.
Another emerging concept is “crowdgranting”, which intersects traditional crowdfunding with supplementary grants. PatronCity is one platform who is paving the way with this new type of funding.
BeCause Water ran a campaign for Boston Public Schools that utilized community crowdfunding in tandem with Corporate Sponsorship from Delta Dental MA. In exchange for the company’s donation, they received recognition through the crowdfunding page and other online channels.
Fundraising events like bake sales, raffles, galas, and benefit concerts are great ways to pull in quick money, while also using it to launch an additional funding campaign like crowdfunding. Below are some examples of events we’ve helped students organize:
- Aquapella – Berklee College’s a cappella concert to raise money for bottle fillers. Funds were raised through the event fee as well as a mid-event raffle.
- Clean Water 6K – Our partner student groups at Boston University, Hobart William & Smith, and University of Tampa all successfully raised money with this race event that brought awareness to the average 6 Kilometer distance that people in average countries walk each day to access clean water. Funds were raised through the event participation fee.
- Water Mixer – Boston University organized a talent show with comedians and musicians and raised funds by selling reusable bottles, snacks, and candy.
The previously covered nonprofit, government, and corporate grants will probably require you to fill out a grant application. Ultimately, you’ll want to illustrate why your initiative deserves funds. We like this guide that covers best practices for grant writing.
Step #5: Developing the Value Proposition
While you see the value of installing bottle filling stations, this may not be the case for everyone.
It is vital that you can articulate the benefits of your campaign to the various stakeholders. Once you understand this, you will have a much easier time with your fundraising asks. A good value proposition has three main characteristics:
- How your solution solves problems / improves the situation.
- The specific benefits to whomever you’re presenting.
- Why this is special or unique.
Below is a breakdown of the value props in respect to the following stakeholders. Every community is different so these will likely vary.
|Stakeholder group||Value Proposition|
|Nonprofit or Gov||
Step #6: Cost Assessment
Determining the total cost of this project is essential in forming a proper fundraising goal.
You will need to assess the following costs for you project:
Depending on features, the most popular Bottle Filling Stations run anywhere from ~ $900-$1,500 / unit.
If you are installing a filtered Bottle Filling Station (almost always recommended), one filter will usually come included per bottle filler. On average the filter will last about six months. If you want to order replacement packs they come in 1, 3, 12, and 48 Packs. The Elkay Filter Replacement 3 Pack usually goes for about $230-250.
The challenge in determining installation cost is that plumbing rates vary quite a bit across the country. Also, depending on your existing setup, it could take anywhere from 1-5 hours to install a bottle filler. A very rough ballpark estimate for an installation is anywhere between $500-1,500 per unit.
To keep costs down, you’ll want to target your installation somewhere where there is already easy access to electricity.
Pro tip: Have security funds in place in case the installation cost exceeds the initial estimate.
This is why if at all possible you should do anything in your power to convince your school’s facilities team to handle installation, in effect wiping out this expense for fundraising efforts.
Unable to convince your facilities team to take on installation and need to find a licensed installer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll connect you to a licensed installer in your area.
Step #7: Choosing the Right Product
Choosing the right product for your project is vital. DO NOT make the mistake of ordering the cheapest model from Amazon and calling it a day — this can cost you in the end. There are hundreds of Bottle Filling Station models all with different features designed for your setup and needs.
Ultimately, we always recommend working with an experienced professional. BeCause Water offers free product advisory for Bottle Filling Stations in schools.
Contact us and tell us more about your project and one of our advisors will respond shortly.
If you’re eager to get the ball rolling, here are some initial variables to consider:
Elkay and Halsey Taylor are the manufacturers of the most popular Bottle Filling Station on the market that you’ve probably seen at the airport, gym, or park. These are usually preferred by facilities and procurement teams due their design, durability, competitive prices, and brand reputation. Additionally, they promote Sustainability by with a “Green Ticker” that counts each plastic bottles saved from waste.
One of the most common concerns about drinking from a public fountain is the water quality. This concern has only grown as of late with Flint, MI and other schools across the country uncovering lead issues in their drinking water.
While generally speaking, unfiltered tap water in the U.S. should be safe to drink, we always recommend taking additional assurance with a filter.
Make sure the filter you choose is NSF 42 and NSF 53 certified to reduce Chlorine, Taste and Odor, Particulate Class I, and Lead.
If installing filters does not work for your facilities team, be sure to test your water at a certified laboratory or agency.
Most existing drinking fountains have an existing chiller in order to disperse cold water. You can check this by asking your facilities team or sending the serial ID# to our support team. Given that you want people to use and enjoy your bottle filler, we always recommend chilled water; however, depending on your climate, water source, and distribution system, you may find that the temperature is already adequately cold, in which case you will not need chilled water.
Retrofit vs. Swapout
Generally speaking, we always recommend swapping out your existing fountain with a new bottle filling station. While the low prices of retrofits may be appealing, they end up speeding up the lifespan of your existing chiller, which won’t be covered under warranty if it breaks unless it is 5 years or younger. So actually, the net cost can end up higher than if you swapped with a new station, as you’ll have to buy and replace the broken chiller
However, retrofits definitely serve a purpose. If your budget is limited and you want to prove the concept to your school, retrofits are a sensible option.
Does vandalism ever happen in your school? If so, Elkay and Halsey Taylor have vandal resistant options for the bubbler piece (spout), push-button, or entire station (including bottle filler).
Step #8: Form S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to form goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
First, refer to your original “Purpose” that you wrote down earlier. This should fuel your overarching goal. Here’s an example:
“I am leading this campaign to implement Bottle Filling Stations at Rogers High because I know this will help our community rethink the importance of water, the most essential resource to mankind. I choose to be part of the solution and leave a meaningful legacy.”
Example of Overarching Goal
“Increase clean, sustainable drinking water access at Roger High by implementing 3 Bottle Filling Stations by May 15th and promoting their benefits with an open to the public ribbon-cutting ceremony.”
Supporting goals are the building blocks for your overarching goal.
Examples of supporting goals are:
- Get approval from administration by March 1st.
- Raise $3,000 by April 1st.
- Assure Bottle Filling Stations are installed by May 1st.
- Secure at least 5 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony RSVPs from local community leaders by May 10th.
Step #9: Develop Execution Plan
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine DeSaint-Exupery
There are many different ways you can choose to raise funds, but what will be the most effective and efficient strategy for you? This is where the 80/20 process comes into play.
The 80/20 law states that 80% of results come from 20% of inputs. So rather than spreading yourself thin and trying to raise funds from every source, select 1-3 sources that you think will give you the highest return on investment. The idea is to work not just hard, but also smart.
Define, Schedule, & Delegate Key Action Steps
What are your key action steps to achieve your goals? Do you have anyone else on your team who could help?
Examples could include:
- Write up proposals by March 2nd (Max)
- Make Flyers by March 10th (Suzy)
- Set up Social Media Pages by March 11th (Suzy and Max)
- Contact facilities team by March 14th. (Max)
- Get quotes for products by March 18th. (Caroline)
Communication & Accountability
Again, fundraising for Bottle Filling Stations is a team sport. Whomever you are working with, set up a consistent time to meet in person or touch base over the phone / skype. Setting this structure from the beginning will be key.
As a final step, share your goals and execution plan with a faculty advisor or BeCause Water. While this may seem insignificant, this will keep you accountable and assure your success.
Step #10: Start!
Okay, you officially have everything you need to start this campaign. The only thing left is to begin!
So what will it be? Will you send that first email to administration? Contact a friend? Contact BeCause Water?
We hope you have benefited from this guide and look forward to hearing your story.
Below are some case studies and tools that may help you through your journey.
Here are some examples of schools who have successfully raised funds for water bottle filling stations: