5 Steps to Playground Fundraising and Sponsorship: Finding money in a bear market
There’s no question about it—money is tight right now which makes playground fundraising even more challenging. For most schools, churches, and local communities, having a new playground is ideal but the costs involved can be daunting. There’s no need to be discouraged, though. Money can always be found for important things like playground equipment sponsorship—you just need to know where to look!
- The first step in playground fundraising is to create a clear action plan which includes: a site visit, an estimate, a playground area layout and a color rendering. You should be able to have this provided cost-free from a local distributor. Having a detailed action plan will help you get organized and give you and your committee a clear idea of how much money you will need. Once you know your budget you’ll have a better idea of what types of fundraising to utilize to reach your goals.
- Gather your list of possible sponsors and decide on how you will get the word out. Will you do a mailing, run a phone bank or set up a website that talks more about the playground fundraising opportunity? If you’ll be running an event-based sponsorship, what will the date and time be? Make sure you give sponsors enough time to plan around their schedules—at least one month in advance. If they tell you they can’t make it, ask them for an unattended donation.
- When presenting the playground fundraising opportunity to sponsors, make sure that you provide them with a well developed plan that includes the rendering you will have received earlier. Be prepared with answers to these questions: If all of the money is raised, when do you expect the project to be complete? Will there be a grand opening ceremony or luncheon to commemorate the accomplishment and reward your sponsors? These are all good things to have in a clear plan before the first attempt is made at fundraising and sponsorship.
- Invite your donor to share their opinions and views. Give them opportunity to give you feedback and advice over the phone, in an e-mail or letter, or in fundraising committee meetings. Some people may prefer a different layout for the playground equipment or may want to increase the budget. If you allow everyone to submit a couple of their own ideas then it will be a community-owned project rather than the product of a small division of people.
- Ask, Ask, Ask—sometimes it’s just that easy. Pick up the phone and call a few people. Tell them that your community is in desperate need of a new, safe, challenging playground that will lay the foundation for the physical and mental development of your children. If they don’t believe that or they simply don’t have kids then talk to them about how property values will drastically increase when a playground is built nearby.
Sounds simple right? Well it is!
There are many ways to approach playground fundraising but sometimes a simple solution can be the best one. Bake sales, luncheons, feeds, auctions and marathons can help open up the door for sponsorship by people in your community who might already have an interest in playground fundraising. This helps to get the community involved and spread the news that you’re looking for people that are interested in helping support your fundraising project.
Once you’ve sent the word out, another way for new playground sponsorship is to apply for grants. A great place to look for grants is www.creativesystems.com. Here you can find additional fundraising ideas and links to non-profit organizations that are dedicated to building community-based projects. Another way to get scholarships and grants is contacting your local and state government to find out what they offer and how their application process works. With the new stimulus packages from the federal government going towards infrastructure and “shovel ready projects,” there are plenty of opportunities out there that will reward communities if they are diligent.
Large corporations are also a great way to get funding for playground equipment. Many companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and 24 Hour Fitness are willing to sponsor playground projects in some way or another. Retailers such as Target, K-Mart and Wal-Mart will often donate gift cards that you can auction off. With a good proposal, many companies are grateful for the opportunity to give back and be a part of a positive contribution to their community.
Playgrounds improve and promote the wellness of children. With hard work and dedication, your playground fundraising project will develop and pay off in the end. With any luck you might also have a little fun and meet more people in your community.
Good luck and keep fundraising!