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Funding your playground

Most of us want a playground. However, coming up with the money needed to purchase the playground can pose a problem.

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Fundraising is one popular way schools and other organizations can raise money for the items they need and want. Unfortunately it can often take several years to raise the funds needed for bigger ticket items such as playground equipment. One of the keys to successful fundraising isn’t just to find interesting new ideas for goods to sell or auction off, or for events such as standby car washes or spaghetti dinners; it’s about gaining the commitment of those involved to make the fundraiser successful through engagement, recruitment and passion for the cause.

Families get tired of buying the same candy and candles, and in today’s world many parents no longer feel comfortable sending their children around the neighborhood for door-to-door soliciting.  For any fundraising campaign, it’s important to let the community know what you’re doing, what they can do to help and who they can go to for their donation or to purchase a product.  And often, it’s only a certain group or class that’s selling, so potentially interested parties might not have the opportunity to participate or support the cause. Sending letters home with children or even some low-cost advertising in a local shopper paper or on the radio to get the word out about your fundraising project might be worth the spend. Some schools subscribe to automated call systems and use email to connect and inform their students’ families.  Be sure to take advantage of your own technology—post on your Facebook page or Twitter feed, use Instagram to show a rendering of the potential new playground to get people interested, or send out email blasts. Most of these promotional tactics won’t cost anything, saving your budget for printing and postage for snail mail.

In addition to your fundraising, don’t forget to think about the wealth of grants that are available (pun intended). If you’re new to grants, talk with people in your field for valuable tips and advice. And when looking at grants, remember that “playgrounds” may not be spelled out—you’ll have to look at the requirements and tailor your proposal to fit relevant grants’ parameters. Remember the overarching effects: Playgrounds mean exercise, and that can help to increase academic performance and as well as provide a physical education curriculum and other opportunities for learning through play. Don’t be afraid to connect the dots in order to show how your needs will be met through the grant.

What other creative ways have you raised money for a playground? Share your ideas on our Facebook page or use #saveplay on Twitter.