Public Transportation

Funding a Coalition

There are a variety of ways to fund coalition activities. Some suggested sources of funding include:

In-Kind Services: Many coalition members may be willing to provide selected services, products, staff time, etc., at no charge. Consider soliciting services to:

  • Host coalition meetings
  • Provide refreshments at meetings and events
  • Provide copying, printing, graphics and/or postage
  • Sponsor forums, conferences, events
  • Provide legal advice and/or research
  • Publicize coalition activities through company newsletters, employee bulletin boards, or civic organization meetings
  • Draft letters, press releases, speeches, grant proposals
  • Donate staff time to help prepare for meetings and plan activities

Transit Agency / Authority Support: Many local transit authorities or state transit associations may be willing to donate staff time and some resources to the coalition. Since transit agencies and associations provide the services the coalition is promoting, they can provide valuable information and data regarding transit funding, legislation, long-range plans, compliance with various federal laws, and other public transportation issues. At the same time, such agencies and authorities must be careful to avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest or involvement in any inappropriate political activities.

Membership Dues and Donations: Membership dues and donations can be established to help support coalition activities. Some coalitions have used this funding method to hire full or part-time staff. A membership dues scale can be devised to attract a variety of interests, including corporations, small businesses, labor groups, civic and community organizations, special interest groups and individuals. An attorney should be consulted to determine any legal requirements or state rules.

Grants: In addition to the APTA local transit coalition grant program, a variety of foundations, government agencies and other groups offer grants that may be appropriate for your coalition. A grant may help fund an educational program, a special regional or statewide forum on transit issues, or the coalition's operating costs. Local libraries have books on grant sources and how to write successful proposals.

Fundraising Activities: Fundraising activities can provide money as well as increased public exposure for your coalition and its members. Depending upon the coalition structure, a variety of activities may be appropriate. Some suggestions include:

  • Sponsor a "Run for the Bus" race with a nominal entry fee for runners, and a discount if they join your coalition.
  • Auction transit memorabilia or services donated by coalition members.
  • Sponsor activities, forums or presentations that require a small entry or attendance fee.
  • Ask a local artist to design and donate a special poster depicting a transit theme and sell copies.
  • Sell special transit buttons, fare cardholders, T-shirts or other items to members, businesses, groups and individuals.
  • Sponsor a transit rally in which participants complete a "course" designed to include every mode of public transportation such as buses, commuter rail, light rail, trolleys, subways, and possibly passenger ferries.
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