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Fundraising for a New Playground

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How to Raise Money for a Playground

Fundraising is an opportunity to bring the community together and spark excitement about a new playground. Children and their families can look forward to a new place to play, develop and have fun. A fundraising event allows members of the community to support something they believe in, while interacting with and enjoying fundraising festivities. Most importantly, you can raise money to make your playground dream a reality, whether your commercial playground is to be built at a public park, school or business.

Playtime outside allows kids to act spontaneously and keeps the magic and wonder of childhood alive. There are so many benefits to play, including:

  • Develops motor skills
  • Develops thinking and creative problem-solving skills
  • Teaches patience, sharing, teamwork and conflict resolution
  • Helps build confidence as children discover and overcome new challenges
  • Builds muscle and provides physical exercise
  • Brings joy and creates happy memories

It is likely a lot of community members will agree — they wish their kids played outside more. A fundraiser gives parents, teachers and business owners a chance to work for a cause they believe in. Raising money is easier than you may think and there are a number of fundraiser programs that you can use to make the process easier.

Boy going across playground stepping stones


Playground Fundraiser Ideas

Americans are becoming more generous with donations. In 2019, Americans donated an estimated $449.64 billion to U.S. charities — a 4.2 percent increase since 2018.

With the right marketing and a unique idea, members of your community will look forward to participating in and contributing to your fundraising event. You want to choose an event that will grab their attention from the get-go and build enthusiasm for a whole family. The following ideas appeal to all ages, types of communities and abilities.

Get the community talking now about your fundraising event. The more excitement you create, the more people you will have at your fundraiser and the more opportunities you’ll have to raise money for a playground.


Special Event Fundraisers

You can host a number of special events to raise money for a cause. Hands-on events and activities like concerts, car washes, walk-a-thons, sports tournaments, used book sales, bingo nights, and chili cook-offs are time-tested ways to raise money while having fun. The key to a successful fundraiser is setting your prices high enough to guarantee a profit.

A special event will make everyone feel appreciated for their contributions, and they will take joy in knowing they helped build an amazing playground. With any fundraising event, make sure to reach out to local businesses that might be excited to donate products or funds in support of a good cause and to spread their name. Here are some special event ideas to consider when planning your playground fundraiser.

Bake Sale

Everyone gets excited about a sweet treat, and that is why bake sales are a classic event. Bake sales not only appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds, but they are also relatively easy to arrange. Usually, bake sales do not require a lot of money upfront, but they can make a decent amount of sales. Here are some tips for a successful bake sale.

  • Build a bake sale team: Every successful fundraiser needs a leader to organize the event and assign responsibilities, and you will need plenty of volunteers to help before, during and after the event.
  • Know health codes: Depending on where you hold the event, there might be certain health codes you need to follow. It is important to know what is and what is not allowed before getting too deep into planning.
  • Choose your location: Plan to set up the bake sale in a high-traffic area, or next to another fun event or activity to attract attention.
  • Consider presentation: Make the bake sale visually appealing with colorful displays and an organized setup. However, try not to overwhelm potential contributors with too many decorations and make purchases as easy as possible.
  • Consider your customers: For a playground fundraiser, you are likely going to have lots of parents and children attending your bake sale. Offer baked goods that appeal to children, like character-shaped cookies or cupcakes. Consider offering nutritious options, too.
  • Sell beverages: Customers will need a tasty beverage to wash down their sugary treats, so consider selling coffee, lemonade or other drinks alongside your baked goods.
  • Offer popular items: Sell comforting and delicious products everyone loves and is familiar with, like brownies, chocolate chip cookies or homemade fudge. The point is to raise money, so you don’t want to scare people away with experimental creations.
  • Host a bake-off: Turn a bake sale into a competition for an added layer of fun. Competitors can show off their prized recipes, while attendees can pay to taste different goods and vote for their favorites.

Silent Auction

A silent auction may be a profitable choice if you have a lot of smaller items to auction off or a few big-ticket items that will draw a lot of attention. A silent auction can be a lot of work to set up, so you first want to make sure it is the best way to raise funds for your playground.

If you decide a silent auction is feasible, keep the following tips in mind during the planning process.

  • Set up an auction committee: Put together a team of 10 or more people to help you find items for your auction. Provide literature to help your committee spread the purpose and mission of your event.
  • Create a list of local businesses: Work with volunteers or other committee members to compile a list of businesses that may wish to donate items. Businesses you can contact include restaurants, boutiques, amusement parks or any other local retailers.
  • Contact the businesses on your list: Write a letter to each business explaining you are hoping they will donate for your silent auction, your purpose of the fundraising event and how they can help or stop by in person. Let them know you will pick up the donated items. You can then follow up by email or by phone.
  • Track donated items: To make the process easier throughout, track items right away. Create a spreadsheet that includes information like item names, descriptions, starting bids and donor contact information.
  • Gather a lot of volunteers: You will need a lot of help during the event to keep an eye on items and to help collect bid sheets at the end of the event.
  • Categorize items: Organize items in categories to help people browse and bid.
  • Gather enough materials: Make sure to have plenty of clipboards, pens and bid sheets available to ensure the event runs smoothly.
  • Plan for big payments: If you plan to auction off large or expensive items, make sure you can accept checks or credit card payments. Consider using an automated card reading service to make credit card payments easy.
  • Host the auction alongside another event: Encourage a lively atmosphere and excitement to make purchases by hosting other events near the auction. For example, you might have a rummage sale next to the auction, a bake sale or even a student art show. Give auction attendees a chance to buy something if they get outbid.

5K Run

Organizing a 5K requires a lot of preparation and careful consideration. A race is a great opportunity to draw attention to your playground plans while getting the community involved in a challenging, healthy and inspiring way.

You will want assistance from others during the planning process. To get you started, here are a few things you will need to consider if you think a 5k is the right event for you.

  • Pick the best route: Choose a route that considers safety, traffic, resources and visibility. For example, you may not want to pick a path that is too difficult to walk or run over, as that can make it hard for runners or walkers of different physical abilities. Also, choose a route near ample parking so spectators can park and watch.
  • Consider resources: A lot goes into hosting a safe and productive running event. To make the event successful and enjoyable for all involved, you will need rope and cones to mark the route, as well as portable toilets, food, water and tents, just to name a few items. Ask local businesses to sponsor the event and donate supplies.
  • Check local regulations: Meet with local officials to find out what permits, insurance or laws you need to consider when planning your event. For example, find out if you will need police in attendance.
  • Market the event: Create excitement and spread the news with an event-dedicated website or social media page to help promote your 5k race.
  • Find participants: You can have people sign up in person or online. Create an online form where potential participants can answer a questionnaire and register for the event.
  • Communicate every day: Build anticipation and show your appreciation by communicating with participants through email or social media posts and keep them updated until the event.

Playground Map Draw

Parents, teachers and other community members will be excited to see the new playground design. If they can imagine what the playground will look like and what it will offer children, they may be more apt to make generous donations.

A playground map draw is an easy event that can be fun for everyone involved. First, try to host the event in the area you plan to build the playground. Then, cut a map of the playground into squares. Participants can purchase their favorite map square for a set price. At the end of the event, randomly draw a square from a bucket, hat or another container. The winner will receive a cash prize or donated item.

Boy looking through playground telescope


Host a Talent Show

All kids love to put on a show, so a talent show is an excellent way to build hype and get the whole community involved. Parents will look forward to supporting their children, and you can raise funds in lots of different ways. For example, not only can you charge for admission, but you can also sell T-shirts, snacks, beverages and other fun items related to the show.

Another plus to this type of event is everyone can partake. Kids of all ages can either audition to perform or help with backstage tasks like lighting, sound setup or stage design. No one needs to feel left out, even if they do not perform.

  • Organize a committee: Put together a team of parents, students and business owners to help plan and prepare for the talent show. You will also need judges to pick talent show winners.
  • Choose a time and place: Consider where you will hold the event and pick a date that works for the majority of the community. In other words, try not to host the event during final exams, graduation or other important dates.
  • Hold auditions: Auditions will help committee members make sure acts are appropriate and within reasonable time limits. Acts should be no longer than two or three minutes each.
  • Plan the details: Create posters, emails and flyers to spread the word. Also consider using social media to promote the event.
  • Consider other ways to raise money: You can sell local business advertising on talent show programs or brochures, bracelets, have a photo booth or record the event and sell DVDs to raise even more funds for your playground.
  • Market the event: You can sell local business advertising on talent show programs or brochures, bracelets, have a photo booth or record the event and sell DVDs to raise even more funds for your playground.
boy at adventureland park in IA


Sell Advertising Space

Another way you can raise money for your playground is to contact local businesses and offer to advertise their business in your playground in exchange for a donation. Local businesses may be happy to donate to your cause, because not only will they get their name out there, but they will also be associated with a positive cause. Aim to contact businesses that are kid-friendly or offer child-related services such as daycares or sports equipment stores.

You can have local businesses and organizations sponsor the playground as a whole, but another option is to have them sponsor specific pieces of equipment or sections of the playground. You can also have sponsors identified on a playground pathway using bricks or plaques.

You will need to check the local advertising laws to make sure you are allowed to sell ad space on a playground. Also, some members of the community may not want advertisements on the playground. Hold a meeting first to share ideas and consider opinions.

Selling advertising space is one of the easiest park and recreation fundraising ideas. You can secure funds for the playground while tying the community together.


Stage a Carnival

Carnivals are fun for the entire family and are a great way to raise funds. You can offer numerous activities available for all ages, have live music and sell food or other goods. A carnival can be a big event or a smaller one, and the options are endless to what you can include. Try to plan an event that will allow families to contribute and have a blast.

Make sure to promote your carnival event well beforehand and people will be happy to contribute. They will look forward to donating to your cause while enjoying a day of fun activities and creating memories with the kids in the community.

If you choose to have a carnival event, you have a lot of factors to consider. What games will you have? What food will you offer? How much will you charge for activities or admission? Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Create a team

You will need a lot of carnival volunteers to help sell tickets, work at concessions stands, manage publicity and to help with setup and cleanup.

Choose a Theme

A theme will help you design an overall look and color scheme for your carnival. You could go with a classic circus look, or you could be more adventurous and try something different like an outer space theme. Perhaps you can create a theme around your playground design.

Advertise early

You want to give community members plenty of time to put the carnival on their calendar. Start advertising the event at least four to six weeks ahead of time to draw more attendees.

The more you have, the better:

Remember, the more stands you have and the more you offer to sell, the more money you can potentially make for your playground.

Incorporate other fundraising events:

You can have bake sales or a silent auction at your carnival. You can also charge admission to watch a talent show or magic show — the possibilities are endless for ways you can raise funds in a carnival setting.

Offer activities for all ages: 

Make sure there are plenty of ways for attendees of all ages to participate. For example, you might set up a face-painting booth for young children, a dunk tank for older kids or a fortune-teller tent for all ages. Make sure there are also shaded play areas for everyone to keep cool.

Have lots of fun food for sale

No carnival would be complete without classic goodies like snow cones, cotton candy or candy apples. Also, sell more substantial items like hot dogs or hamburgers so carnival guests can stay for a while without feeling hungry and consider having healthy options like fresh fruit or smoothies.

Consider renting a special carnival attraction

If you want to go all-out, you may be able to rent a petting zoo, water slide or rides.

Consider ticket price

Consider ticket price:Even though you want to raise a good amount of money, do not set ticket prices so high that they discourage families from taking part in all the activities. Consider giving a discount for buying a certain number of tickets.

Talk to businesses:

Ask local businesses to sponsor the carnival or donate goods in exchange for advertisement.

Check local laws

Find out what you need to legally have a carnival. You may need a permit to have rides or sell food, so it is important to check far ahead of time what the rules are. Make this your first step in the carnival planning process, as permit applications may be due months before an event.

Track ride at Jakes field of Dream Park


Other Special Events

You can host a number of special events to raise money for a cause. Hands-on events and activities like concerts, car washes, walk-a-thons, sports tournaments, used book sales, bingo night, and chili cook-offs are time-tested ways to raise money while having fun.

No matter which event you choose, make sure to set your prices high enough to guarantee a profit. Special events are popular playground fundraising ideas because they give you a chance to build relationships with fellow community members and interact face to face. You may even make a new friend or contact who will later become a donor!


Benefits of Working with Little Tikes Commercial

Little Tikes Commercial believes strongly in the benefits of bringing play to all communities. Children need playtime outdoors for their mental, physical and social well-being. A quality, stimulating playground encourages children to explore, laugh and grow.

There are many great benefits to working with Little Tikes Commercial:

  • Financing options: From fundraising to playground equipment leasing options, our representatives are committed to helping you budget your playground and make it a reality.
  • Dedication: We believe in the power of outdoor play just as much as you do, and we are dedicated to helping you build a quality playground from start to finish. Whether you need help designing an all-inclusive playground with our partner and nonprofit organization Unlimited Play, or you need help creating a budget, we are proud to assist you. As your playground partner, we are here to help you create a playground that suits your space, budget and overall needs of your community. Check out our Playground Grant Resource Guide for additional financial resources.
  • Quality playground equipment: If you work with Little Tikes Commercial, you can be confident you are working with the best. We strive to provide the highest-quality, durable and safe playground equipment that is made to last and bring many years of joy. Our playgrounds do not leave out any child — we offer complete playground structures designed for children of all ages and levels. All of our equipment comes with a strong warranty. Best of all, we aim to provide playground equipment that is innovative, vibrant and meets or exceeds industry safety standards.

When it comes to designing, financing and building a great playground in your community, Little Tikes Commercial has everything you need to get started. Your school, place of work, business or other community space will benefit from our easy process. The community’s children will benefit from a lifetime of safe, joyful play.

To get started with financing assistance or for more information about playground or fundraising options, contact a Little Tikes Commercial representative today.

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