Did you know that there are a number of options when it comes to funding your natural playground? Today, fundraising is more competitive than ever before, and it requires a sophisticated, strategic approach. Fortunately, we’ve raised millions of dollars for hundreds of natural playgrounds around the world and can help guide you through this process.
There are eight main sources of funding for a natural playground project.
- The Property Owner – The natural playground will increase property value for the owner and for the surrounding homes while reducing teacher absenteeism, bullying, and vandalism as well as enriching the health, intellect, and self-worth of students.
- Bake sales, bottle drives, and trivia nights – We know this might feel like a grind, but this is as much about building buy-in from the community and potential funders as it is about the money. This is about building your credibility across all funding platforms. Why should they invest in your projects if you don’t?
- Foundations and NGOs – There are loads of charitable organizations that have recognized the importance of connecting children and communities to nature. From TD Friends of the Environment Foundation to Trillium, to Sobeys and Home Depot; these foundations provide millions in project funding every year. Local community foundations such as Rotary, Civilian, Probus, Lions and Optimists are also always looking for projects to support.
- In-kind – Take your project materials list and start knocking on the doors of local suppliers. You will be amazed at what they will contribute if you ask. Discounted materials are as good as cash.
- Wealthy Individuals – It is better to ask for advice on whom else to go to for support rather than simply asking them for their money. Building a network of support helps with all of your funding channels.
- Government – All three levels (Municipal, Provincial and Federal) have something to gain by being involved in your project, and something to lose if they are not. Make sure they understand this. Ask them to match each other’s’ support. Start with your local councillor and then move up the chain from there.
- Volunteers – This is the fun bit. Just make sure there is ample water, snacks, washrooms, Band-Aids, and meaningful work available for everyone. You can reach out to us at Bienenstock for a full community build guidebook to help with this type of planning.
- Corporations – Large corporations have Sponsorship Directors, Green Marketing strategies, Corporate Social Responsibility Charters (ISO 26000), and Human Resources Team-building budgets. Natural playgrounds that are completed through a community build model offer an opportunity to engage each of these departments individually or all of them in combination. Team building projects are often funded more generously than sponsorship budgets at the local level.
One thing to keep in mind when fundraising is that there is not one definitive approach. What may have worked for one project might not work for another. We do recommend exercising as many of these 8 options as you have available to you to have the best odds at funding your natural playground. As is the case with most fundraising efforts, transparency is important. Always be clear about the funds being raised and the scope of the project that they are being raised for.
Have fun, enjoy the process and never give up!
If you have any questions with regards to fundraising or natural playgrounds, please feel free to reach out.