Show Me the Money!
This is the first of a four-part series based on the Fund It! guidebook from Blueprint for Play. You can also read our first series on Playground Planning.
You’ve done the hard planning work and rallied the support of your neighbors to build a new playground. Congrats! The next question people frequently ask us is "How can I raise money to build a playground?" Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as shouting your heart out to that special donor on the phone, that sort of thing mainly happens in movies! However, if you’re prepared, fundraising can be fun and fruitful.
It's all about relationships.
Funding comes from creating relationships with people! By taking a strategic approach to who and how you ask, you’re more likely to reach your funding goals. Follow these steps to be prepared to inform and inspire with respect to your cause.
1. Create your list. Start by creating a list of potential funders and prioritize your list by starting with the largest potential and working down. Make sure to include your own networks and consider joining other groups like the area Chamber of Commerce to meet people. Here is a list of questions that will help you create your list:
- Who in the community would support this playground project?
- Which representatives of larger organizations or businesses would be willing to donate money?
- Who has knowledge of the community you’re attempting to work with and would see the project’s benefits?
- How do we contact potential funders?
- What types of fundraisers will we establish - pledges and donations, product fundraisers, and/or special events?
- Do we know relevant fundraising restrictions/requirements and have we established processes for tax-deductible contributions?
- Should we consider seeking a professional grant writer?
2. Tell your story. How do you craft a compelling story to create buy-in for your cause? Create a story that is meaningful, easy to hear and understand, and simple to act upon.
- Think about the WHY.
- Why now?
- Why at all?
- Why your potential funders will benefit?
3. Ask. There must be an ask. For many people, asking for money feels uncomfortable, and even taboo. But it's an essential step to ensure the playground is built.
- Be direct.
- Ask for a specific amount and let the donor know what they can expect in return for their donation (i.e. a nameplate on a bench or their company logo on a sponsorship sign)
- Offer levels of giving so everyone has an opportunity to give.
4. Publicize. Let the world know! Create eye-catching and informative messages to showcase your cause. Here are some ideas for a kickoff campaign:
- Letter writing to potential donors, community leaders and local media
- Direct marketing to community members, local businesses and families
- Email campaigns - direct appeals to your personal contacts, as well as local organizations who might be willing to donate to the cause
- Flyers posted in local business, physician offices, youth centers, faith organizations, etc.
- E-fundraising - there are many digital fundraising options such as GoFundMe
- Websites - consider setting up a webpage, Facebook page or other online presence to announce the project and post progress updates
- Personal meetings and speaking engagements - contact your local Chamber of Commerce and request opportunities to speak at chapter meetings
- Promoting sponsorships - allow others to fund the project through golf tournaments, 5k races and other sponsored events
This list is good starting point to kickstart your fundraising campaign. And who knows, maybe you’ll snag your own Rod Tidwell!
Want to get a headstart on the rest of this series? Request a free copy of Fund It! and the Blueprint for Play Toolkit.