A playground is an investment in your children. Though building a new playground and filling it with equipment can be expensive, it is a purchase many schools find important enough to justify. Your school’s new playground will keep kids safe, entertained and active during the school day, and it may also serve as a resource for others in your local community.
Once you’ve decided to build a playground, though, you have to figure out how you’re going to pay for it. Depending on the nature of your organization, you may be able to take advantage of loans, grants and other funding options. However, it’s likely you’ll still need to do some fundraising to cover at least part of the cost of your playground.
In order to raise the funds you need, you may have to get creative. Fundraisers that are both fun and efficient are sure to get the attention of other parents and community members, and being thoughtful about the kinds of fundraisers you use may also be good for students and PTO and board members, who will be doing much of the work.
With that in mind, here are a few clever ways your school can raise money for a new playground.
1. Emphasize Academics
Many school fundraisers unintentionally draw attention away from work in the classroom. Though such fundraisers can certainly be fun, they may not be effective for all groups of parents and donors.
In addition to more traditional fundraisers, you might consider finding a way to use academics to incentivize donations. For example, you might hold a read-a-thon at your school library, asking for pledges from parents and community members. If you elementary or middle school assigns letter grades, you may be able to ask for pledges for the number of As and Bs in a classroom.
By incorporating academics into your fundraising, you’ll not only encourage and reward kids for learning, but you’ll also show donors you’re serious about work as well as play.
2. Sell Things People Want
There’s a reason Girl Scouts sell cookies — they’re delicious and people love to buy them, especially when they know they’re supporting a good cause. Bake sales are tried-and-true methods of fundraising for schools. However, sometimes such events can place a burden on parents to provide inventory and staff the event. Unless a lot of you are enthusiastic about fundraising, you might want to search for other, less work-intensive ways to sell treats.
Some fundraising companies like DoughBuilders allow organizations to sell cookie dough, cakes and other items without having to provide the products directly. Though these companies take a cut of the profits — with DoughBuilders, your school will earn 50 percent — some playground companies like Little Tikes will donate to your fundraiser for every item sold.
Though this strategy isn’t perfect, it is easy and can give parents, kids and community members the treats they love to buy while supporting your school.
3. Look for Easy Fundraising Opportunities
Many companies people shop at regularly have programs that will donate a small percentage of a designated purchase to a charitable organization. Amazon Smile is an example of such a program, but your local community might have similar deals.
Easy fundraising opportunities like these won’t rake in tons of cash, but every little bit adds up. Since they’re so easy to set up, it’s definitely worth incorporating them into your fundraising strategy.
All you have to do to take advantage of these opportunities is sign up your school to be part of the program and spread the word. These campaigns allow you to raise money through purchases that people are going to make anyway, so everybody wins.
4. Show off Your Playground Dreams
Fundraising for a playground is a little different from general school fundraising. Some people might not understand the importance of such an investment. In order to garner support and donations, you might consider hosting a special event to talk about the playground and show how much it means to the children.
If you already have a location picked out, you might host an after-school picnic on the grounds to show off the spot and to help donors visualize the final result. If you’re replacing worn-out equipment, get creative and wrap up old and broken toys with yellow tape to serve as the backdrop for your event.
If you don’t have an outside space yet, hold a social fundraising event and have kids draw their dream playgrounds to display on the walls. You could sell tickets to these events or simply ask for donations.
By showing how much you are invested in this cause, you’ll find more donors excited to help.
Fundraising for a new playground is a big task. Once you see the results, though, it’ll be worth it. By getting creative and using clever fundraising strategies, you can get the donations you need.