Developing your garden, or keeping animals, will not come free! You may receive donations of time and materials, or even plants, animals and equipment, but to develop there will come a point when hard cash is needed. Your school will no doubt have a track record of raising funds for special projects, and should ideally make an educational investment in the outdoor learning areas, but here are just some of the tried and tested ways of raising additional funds.
Develop your plans by involving the whole school community, obtain accurate costs for the project, don't ask a funder where you clearly do not meet their criteria, and have a realistic timescale for implementation. It can often take several months before a funder makes a decision on your application.
Saving money is just as useful as raising money. Ask for:
- discounts from your suppliers
- donations of tools, equipment or materials
and of course try to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Here are some sources of in-kind ‘funds' whether in the form of expertise and labour or of materials:
Volunteers and free advice
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers: can help with wildlife surveys or providing volunteers for a host of practical tasks.
Retired Executive Action Clearing House: finds local volunteers (executives, managers, and trades people) to help where skills are needed.
Can Do Exchange: where skills and resources might be identified within your area.
Organic Food For All and Organic Gardens for Schools: Garden Organics' network of mentors is willing to offer help and advice on developing an organic school garden.
In Kind Direct: matches the surplus goods from companies with the needs of communities.
Charity Choice: publicise the free services, goods or volunteers offered by companies for you to see if any might be what you need at the time you need them.
Local companies and local branches of national or international companies may be willing to support you. Personal contact is likely to reap the greatest interest, whether that is by a parent who works for a company and makes a personal plea for support, or someone you know who can find out how decisions are made within the company and on which good causes they are likely to support. There are a number of ways in which a company might help, such as:
- Sponsoring an event
- Providing donations in-kind (such as a second-hand piece of equipment or greenhouse, tools, or supplying seeds or plants)
- Giving preferential discounts on goods you buy from them
- Major companies often have a 'corporate citizenship' or grant-making arm themselves, sometimes supporting schools local to their branches
- Loaning a member of staff on short-term work experience or secondment to help with a particular project or problem
- Providing a team of staff for a day making practical improvements to your site as a team building/staff development activity
• Paying for some advertising in your newsletter or even printing it.
A number of organisations offer web-based search facilities, but some make an annual charge before you can use their services.
The Directory of Social Change publishes a number of reference books, often annually updated, where funders can be found who are specifically interested in schools work.
Further information is available from organisations such as Learning Through Landscapes, and an Information Sheet on Funding and Fundraising can be downloaded from this site under the Get Your Hands Dirty resource section.
A directory of sources of funding related to Growing Schools can be found in the following areas.