Grants The grant process which is great but you normally one can't rely on it, and we all know having a variable in a curriculum is not good planning. There are lots of grants available if you know where to look. Many times there are grants from successful local businesses, again with the recent economic downturn these have disappeared but are starting to emerge once again. Grants are great for kicking of a project and taking the initial blow of capital but it is foolish to rely on grants to maintain your curriculum. This is where you see a lot of projects failing of falling apart.
Reducing the Size of your projects can save you a lot of money. Making the project smaller and more intricate can be both more educational and of higher quality than a larger project. By reducing the dimensional size of your projects obviously reduces the amount of material used and possible allows the use of scraps from other businesses.
Free Materials Use your resources. Every town has some sort of business that has scraps that you can turn into great projects. Business such as sign shops, counter-top shops, building contractors, furniture and cabinet makers, and many other fabricators love to donate materials in exchange for you providing them with a receipt of the value of the material donated on school letterhead. Business love doing this because they get to clean out their shops and get a tax credit for their donation.
Your Administrator's Pockets A good time to ask for some things for class is at the beginning of the year or just before the budgets are about to be closed out. Sometimes they have money that needs to be spent or they will use it. Over the years I have been able to secure some machines and other useful items for the class just by asking at the right time. Of course having a great reason for getting these items when asking is a plus.
Please comment and share any of your experiences below.