How to Launch & Sustain a Successful Playground Fundraising Campaign

How to Launch & Sustain a Successful Playground Fundraising Campaign
If you need to raise funds for your playground project but don’t know where to start, let us help you! Here are answers to the most common questions related to playground and campaign-based fundraising. It’s designed to provide project leaders like you with:

  1. A better understanding of the fundraising marketplace
  2. Practical hints and tips for identifying and engaging with prospective donors
  3. General path for initiating and sustaining interest in your campaign over time

Where will the money come from?

Most of the best aligned and best qualified donors for your playground will probably come from somewhere in your local community or Province. Typically, people like to give to causes that solve a problem or offer an improvement within their home community. Think of it as the 50-kilometer rule.

The further away you are from a donor, the less tangible that connection becomes and the less likely they will be to contribute to your project. This is especially true of playgrounds, where the impact of a donation is often limited to a definable neighborhood.

Who are the best candidates to approach?

These are some of the people and organizations that typically contribute to playground projects.

  • Government: Start by finding out if your community’s Parks & Recreation department can help. Your Province may also have a recreation-focused grant program. Be sure to check out the federal government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund.
  • Wealthy Individuals: Who are the wealthiest people in town? Do you know anyone who knows them, or works for them?
  • Private / Family Foundations: Is there a community foundation, or one or two big family foundations, around who can help?
  • Large Corporations: They tend to invest in the communities where their employees live and work.
  • Small to Medium-Sized Businesses: You may be surprised how much money the local grocery store, small manufacturing entity, or dentist’s office generates each year.
  • Service Clubs: Such as the Elks, Rotary, or other kinds of dedicated groups in your area.

Do we need to be a charity to approach these donors?

The vast majority of foundations, corporations, and individuals restrict their giving to registered charities. If you don’t have that designation, think about forming a partnership with another non-profit, a community foundation, or your local Chamber of Commerce.

What techniques can we use to engage with a donor?

Your efforts to build an authentic relationship with a prospect will be remembered when it comes time for that donor—or their representatives—to decide on your request. The following are some of the typical ways that you can engage a prospective donor:

  • Peer-to-Peer Outreach: Friends referring their colleagues and business partners to a charity for an agreed-upon solicitation request. Many campaigns mobilize a small team of friends and colleagues to identify and engage with those community leaders.
  • Online & In-Person Events: Leverage public, private and online events to secure donations, and to raise awareness of your project within your community. Enhance your profile with an active social media presence and/or a campaign website.
  • Grant Applications: If an organization has a formal process for applying, follow their guidelines and instructions to the letter, but first try and make a connection with someone who works there. If they like your project, they can get it into the hands of a decision maker.
  • Sub-campaigns: As you progress through the techniques listed above, try creating and launching other outreach initiatives. This can be something as small as asking local businesses to put a poster of your project in their window, or as big as seeking a five-figure ‘challenge grant’ from a leading employer or foundation.

What kind of communications resources do we need?

You should consider preparing a campaign package with several short-read support documents that can be handed out or sent via email. These could include:

  • Project overview (with plenty of images of your project)
  • Recognition plan (including any permanent naming opportunities)
  • Project budget
  • Leadership team (with short bios)
  • Samples of news articles, social media posts, etc.

How long will it take us to raise the funds we need?

On average, it takes 6-12 months to build a relationship with a donor and receive a check. That means you’ll typically need more than one touchpoint to convince them to contribute. Try to secure as many leadership gifts as you can from within your existing pool of supporters before moving forward with the public phase of your campaign. Campaigns that launch with at least 30% of funds pledged or in-hand have a much higher probability of success.

How do we sustain interest and engagement in our campaign?

Successful fundraising campaigns tend to reflect solid organization, teamwork, motivation, and especially perseverance. One of the most important things a new project leader can do is create a campaign committee of 3-5 people, and then hire the best, most engaged individuals they can find. This spreads the responsibility and workload over a wider area and helps insulate against burnout and fatigue.

After you’ve assembled your team, be sure to schedule regular campaign meetings. Craft an agenda and a set of objectives, deliverables, and action items beforehand that can be tracked and followed up on.

By working together as a professionally focused team with a predictable and manageable set of deliverables, you’ll maximize your outreach and relationship development efforts, and move steadily closer to your goal.

Stay focused and continue to follow some of the best practices listed here, and your campaign will remain on track for success.

Visit our Funding Resource Center to access more practical fundraising resources and guides. Contact one of our representatives to learn more.

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