Funding your Inclusive Playground
Inclusive playgrounds offer tremendous benefits to kids, families and the entire community. The exciting challenges and activities on an inclusive playground entice and welcome everyone to come and play together. Although playgrounds are a great investment, many schools, communities and non-profits are working with limited budgets and playground funding can seem like a daunting hurdle to overcome.
Fundraising is a part of nearly all playground projects, and we will show you the most profitable ways to meet your goals. The most successful projects don’t rely on any one avenue but utilize multiple options to supplement the funding already in place or finance the entire project. With persistence, flexibility and creativity, you’ll be able to attract diverse financial support and turn your inclusive playground dreams into reality.
Identifying and partnering with like-minded organizations is a great way to secure supplemental funding to build, renovate or maintain an inclusive playground. Local organizations like the YMCA, PTAs, local school districts, healthcare facilities, KABOOM!, Kiwanis International clubs, Jaycee, Rotary, Lions, Optimist chapters in your city have all been great partners for communities across the country. Businesses and civic organizations often make donations for causes like inclusivity and may even host fundraising events of their own on behalf of your inclusive playground project.
A partnership not only provides support from a financial standpoint, but they also become and an ally and advocate for your cause. Having a partner to amplify your message and share the benefits an inclusive playground will bring to a community is more effective than your organization acting alone.
The Jonesboro Miracle League Park, in Jonesboro Arkansas is both a ball field and inclusive playground. Park designers felt the two were a perfect pair because kids and families are taking advantage of the playground before, during and after the games.
The inclusive project received donation from many local businesses and companies. To commemorate the sizeable donation of the local healthcare facility, the playground incorporated the health center’s logo and brand colors into the unitary playground surfacing.
As a result of the partnership, the community was able to build an environment that was welcoming to everyone in the community and the healthcare facility received name recognition through the playground branding. The health center also began using the inclusive playground as a therapy space for their patients – a win/win for the community and the families it serves!
Fundraising & Grants
Playground fundraising events and activities are some of the best sources for playground funding. A well-executed event or campaign can not only provide significant financial support, but it also offers the added benefit of bringing a community together for a common goal. When people join together with a shared purpose of improving the lives of people in their community, incredible things happen.
Individual contributions: Small donations add up. Many inclusive playground projects have reached their fundraising goal $10, $15 and $20 at a time from individual contributions. Also, people may be more likely to donate money if you give them something in return such as their name on a sign, plaque or brick at the new playground. You could also ask individuals or families to sponsor a specific playground item such as a swing, park bench or an activity panel.
Lycee Francais de San Francisco inclusive playground in Sausalito, California sold tiles that children in the community could decorate. The tiles were then incorporated into the design of the playground adding a colorful, unique and personal touch to the community playground. Children in the community not only had fun playing on the play space but also searching for and finding the tile they decorated. Another playground in Lakeland, FL auctioned off butterfly sculptures where the winner helped pick the color and design. The sculptures were then placed throughout the design of the playground.
Activities: Consider traditional fundraising activities such as a bake sale, chili cook-off, bingo night, used book sale, walk-a-thon, car wash, sports tournament, and silent or live auction. These are tried and true events because they work! Whether you choose a more traditional fundraiser or something more creative and out-of-the-box, make sure your prices are high enough to guarantee a profit. Some events (galas, auctions, etc.) can be a lot of work and you want to make sure it is worth your efforts.
Finding people at local schools or churches who have fundraising event experience and asking them to help is a huge asset. They are familiar with what works and what doesn’t work in your community and can advise you on the best way to reach your fundraising goals.
Local Business Support: Many local or regional businesses are willing to contribute to any efforts that improve the communities in which they belong. They are vested in their community and want to see its members thrive. This support could be in the form of a restaurant or shop donating profits for a single night, a large monetary gift or smaller in-kind donations that can be used for an auction or raffle.
Some businesses may also be able to offer materials, labor, equipment and supplies that would reduce the need for financial donations. Perhaps a local landscaping company will contribute trees, shrubs and labor, or a printer will donate the printing of your fundraising flyers.
You’ll have the most success if you offer some type of recognition or publicity in connection with a business’ support. Playground projects can be great advertising opportunities for companies, and you should position it as such.
Project Mementos: Some fundraising programs have found success selling t-shirts or calendars to commemorate the playground project. You could also look to sell other locally made products like cookbooks, art, candles, etc.
Local and State foundations: Inclusive playground grants from corporate foundations and local non-profit groups are an excellent source of capital for causes that benefit kids, families and communities. There are several inclusive grant opportunities from organizations supporting children with disabilities like the Safeway Foundation, KABOOM! and the Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation.
Research foundations funding other inclusive playground projects and reach out to local philanthropists, school administrators and elected officials who might be able to connect you to potential grant opportunities. Check with your parks and recreation department too. They will be a great resource and be able to tell you if your state offers recreation grants for inclusive play projects.
Our online Grant Resources provides a listing of federal and state grant programs, as well as grants offered by organizations and corporations to help you navigate the playground grant process. It is a valuable resource that makes it easy to secure supplemental funding for your new inclusive playground.
Taking the time to research available funding and then carefully tailoring each grant application to meet specific requirements is essential to securing grant funding. For more information about the grant process and how to write an effective grant that gets funded, request access to our online playground grant resources or contact your local playground consultant.
Education: Whether you choose to ask for donations, hold fundraisers or find partnerships, (or a combination of all three!) be sure to take time to educate your community and its stakeholders to the importance and benefits of an inclusive playground. When the community truly understands the need and why an inclusive playground is important, you’ll receive better buy-in and support for your project.
If people aren’t immersed in the world of inclusive play, they probably aren’t thinking about it as much or fully understand its tremendous benefits. Education and explaining the why attracts the passion needed to make these projects happen. Once people truly understand the importance, you may entice more individuals to get involved and help with funding, outreach efforts or other project needs.