October 26, 2017

Playground Funding 101: Finding the F-U-N in Fundraising


This is part two of our four-part series on Playground Funding.

Soliciting funding sources sounds more intimidating than it actually is. If you’re ok with borrowing shoes from a friend for the night or your neighbor’s pressure washer, then asking them for money to build a playground that benefits both of you will be a breeze! And asking strangers is even easier than that! Finding funding sources requires being a little creative. It's an open-ended process that requires diligence and imagination and a sense of fun and adventure! Below are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Donations and pledges                     

Donations and pledges will most likely be the primary funding source for your project. The good news is it’s relatively simple. Tell a story that will directly relate to your prospective donor and let them know the impact of their individual gift, how it will address specific needs and the progress you’re making. Many donors will give one-time contributions, but others may pledge a set amount over a period of time.       


2. Special events

Another method is through fun special events like bake sales, talent shows, concerts, or carnivals. These fundraising techniques have stuck around because they work. Hands-on activities and events are not only time-tested and proven, they're a ton of fun. You get to interact with community members face to face. That gives you a chance to build relationships that could lead to future donations and pledges! And remember how the old saying goes, when life hands you money - build a playground.

3. Government funding                     

Ask everyone’s favorite rich uncle...Uncle Sam! Projects led by government entities like parks and rec departments, primary and secondary public schools and the military can take advantage of funding generated by government funds (budget, bonds, internal services) and revenues (user fees, dedicated tax receipts, third-party arrangements).

4. Naming rights

Create a sense of ownership for the project by giving donors the right to name the playground or a portion of it in exchange for their donation. Donor or corporate names can be applied to public signage, playground surfacing, and other areas to acknowledge contributions. This can be an appealing way for businesses to get their name out there and show the community they care about its quality of life.

5. In-Kind donations and volunteers                   

Though we tend to think of funding as money – cash gifts and donations, funding can also take the form of in-kind contributions – people’s time, talents, goods, and services. Non-cash contributions that can be assigned a cash value add up and can help reduce the amount of fundraising you actually need to do.

Also, volunteers can be priceless when trying to raise money. Organizing fundraisers, providing refreshments for meetings, and marketing and supporting the project are just a few ways where people can practically donate their time or talents to the project.  


6. Partnerships

Tag Team! Find a community partner to help you carry the load and support the organization through their network. Take a look at the organizations in your community, do any of them have a similar mission and goal as you? If so, pool resources (money, time, volunteers) to help make your project run smoothly. Unified We Play: Partnership Best Practices for Play and Recreation is a national report developed with the input and expertise of partner-focused park and recreation leaders. This resource has information showing the effectiveness of partnerships and includes some case studies featuring partnerships to create meaningful programs and facilities in communities across the country.

7. Check for funding options with your playground company   

Your playground vendor may also have options for lease payments. Although the term lease can be confusing, this simply means you can obtain financing for the play space, paid over a term that is identified by the leasing company. They may also offer matching funds to help you offset the cost of your equipment. You won’t know until you ask.             

So get creative! Put the f-u-n into fundraising and it won’t seem like a challenge at all!

Want to jump to the last page of the book on fundraising? Request a free digital copy of the Fund It guidebook and the rest of the Blueprint for Play Toolkit.