Parks are notoriously underfunded, especially those that aren’t under the purview of a governmental organization or receiving funding from public dollars. That said, there are some ways to improve the experience for users, and to help involve the community in the process of maintaining and administering a public space.
This article is about how community parks can fundraise to help establish a legacy in their community and to improve on the value added services they provide to the area. Premier Polysteel makes outdoor furniture that is in heavy use in public areas like parks. We love to provide administrators and management teams with creative ideas to help grow their organizations and reach more people with their specific offerings.
Important disclaimer: This article is not financial advice. This is for entertainment and educational purposes only. What works for one organization may not work for another. Premier Polysteel and its affiliated entities are not financial, tax, accounting or legal advisors.
Understanding information surrounding organizational fundraising Goals
Importantly, this is an overview of various points along with some commentary about guidelines offered by the NRPA and there may be additional value in reading that guide by clicking HERE.
Community parks at their heart, are driven by the community and exist for the community. In evaluating how to best raise additional funding for a community type park, one should consult the community.
Listening to the people the park serves and community and management stakeholders (e.g. the board of directors or similar, community donors, ideal park user demographics, etc.) will help to establish baseline goals. Oftentimes, the board themselves will be the fundraisers in the most practical sense, or at least they will provide oversight and introductions to potential donors.
Establishing a list of needs and important improvements and outlining a focused budget and project outline will allow the fundraisers to ask for specific, easy to understand donations that can then be executed on. The resulting one-to-one correlation between dollars raised, and projects completed will help to ensure donors feel good about funding future endeavors too.
It will also help the fundraising committee to see that their hard work has completed a much needed project directly.
Gathering data to improve fundraising efficacy
Gathering information on available grants, both from publicly derived money (like tax dollars) and private donations may help to steer resources in the right direction for fundraising stakeholders.
There are many community clubs, endowments and established foundations that can be approached to consider a grant. Often, the grant outlines and requirements can be flexible enough, if you make a good pitch to the foundation directors. Knowing their inclinations historically, and what they are likely to consider, can improve the chances of getting considered.
Local businesses have a vested interest in contributing. Even during market slowing and downturns, you may be able to find business owners willing to listen to appropriate donation requests, as they can potentially realize tax benefits, while showcasing their commitment to the community at large.
Historic donors to charities in the area where the park exists are also good avenues for potential donations. Those who have contributed to community-centric charitable organizations in the past are likely to consider other community-oriented causes.
Using industry trends as an indicator of potential avenues to raise money
Understanding what is going on in similar organizations can help to determine the efficacy of an upcoming fundraising campaign. Generally non-profits and other community-type organizations are interested in sharing information, and aren’t as competitive as, say, private businesses, when it comes to sharing proprietary insights within reason.
Reaching out to neighboring park administrators can help feel out what is happening in the general community, and what they are seeing with visitor traffic, changes in trends and the overall feel of the fundraising spectrum. Even local/county or governmental administrators will be somewhat willing to share insights about what they see, if you approach them with the right mindset and transparency.
Understanding the landscape can help you make informed decisions when fundraising.
Using internal metrics and proprietary information
Always remember how important management insights are with regards to understanding the landscape for special projects or initiatives. As a board member, you should be talking frequently with managers and administrators of your park or other public space in the same arena. As an administrator or manager, you should be looking to, and engaging with board members and community stakeholders on a regular basis to see what insights can be used to improve the park and raise more funding.
Fundraising best practices for public spaces and outdoor areas
- Keep an open mind about who and which organizations to approach
- Construct a tight presentation and highlight realistic community benefits
- Show your work: show numbers, verifiable information and proven track record for your organization
- Don’t be afraid to ask – the worse that can happen is you can get told “no”
- Build a team of human resources to help engage long-term with the broader community to push for improvements and help showcase the good that is accomplished with your space
- Talk with local business owners and philanthropists in the community – tailor a “pitch” to their historical style of giving/sponsorship
- Seek out public grant opportunities
- Correlate a project to a specific donation “ask”, so those considering a donation feel as though their donation will have immediate and tangible impact
- Try to deliver on promises as often as possible
- Spend money on proven, reliable and longstanding infrastructure and initiatives
- Try to minimize spending from general funds collected through donations on things like payroll and consulting fees, or other intangibles (or those things which may not be seen as “obviously” publicly impactful)
- Consult with tax, legal or financial experts if you feel out of your depth – there may even be pro-bono services available to you as an organization
Considering long-term, high quality outdoor furniture for your Park or other outdoor space
We are a company that is focused on manufacturing high quality outdoor furniture and amenities suitable for public use. We provide solutions to long-term needs that are heavily weighted towards long-term return on investment. We provide articles like this as part of our marketing efforts, but we also understand how important it is to be able to provide full solutions to our customer’s needs.
We hope you will consider our products for your public park project. We believe we offer significant value, and can help you realize exceptional ROI over the long term.
Our products have the following attributes that contribute to a positive bottom line for organizations that are funded by donations and grant monies:
- We offer a 20 year warranty on our outdoor furniture products
- Our products are made from steel inner structures that coated in plastisol, which is highly resistant to mold, mildew, water damage, rust and UV rays
- We build heavy-duty, public facing equipment that is mean to be used in harsh environments and by large visitor counts daily, for many years
- Our products are engineered to be stable, windproof, theft and vandal resistant, and provide a comfortable, pleasant look and feel
- We have a service oriented culture, and a team of experts that can help you maximize your spend and design the right layouts and infrastructure plans
We offer customizable benches, picnic tables and swings among other items. This is a visible way to thank donors and highlight their charitable contributions. Showing that you recognize their attitudes and donations is important in cementing a community-first legacy, and will help you to raise funds in the future from more than just the original donors.