Have you heard the phrase “Nothing succeeds like success”? That is the reason Harvard University’s endowment is well over a billion dollars. You can think of endless examples of this phenomenon. People want to be associated with worthy projects that are doing a good job and achieving goals. Everybody gets satisfaction from pointing to a success and saying “I helped this project get underway.”

So the basic rules of successful, ongoing fundraising are to: 1) start your school garden with the assistance of others, 2) share news about the project on a regular basis, and 3) give your contributors credit for their help.

There is a fourth important rule: be open to new ideas and change. School gardens should be dynamic, like all social constructs. The school garden team and your contributors will welcome the chance to see the “idea” of the garden evolve and expand to meet newly-formulated needs and fresh resources. Create a positive feedback loop around your school garden and the people and the money will come.

Getting funds to expand the garden
Obtaining funding to expand the garden and its programs is necessary. Tools, materials, expertise, and labor are all required to sustain a garden and its programs, and these items cost money.

The school garden team might enlist community help for fundraising in order to:
  • share ideas for requesting donations of money, goods, and services
  • provide tips on writing grant proposals (or help write them!)
  • gather new ideas through a school garden network

Create a wish list and then identify potential sources for those items. Each item on the list may be obtained by soliciting a donation from a separate source.

For example:
  • A manager of a local hardware store might be willing to provide a discount on regular retail prices or even donate some tools and supplies outright
  • Nurseries and greenhouses may offer free or very inexpensive plant material
  • Master Gardeners or local garden club members may share expertise and labor on planting days

See Getting Funds & Supplies for more ideas and tips on locating funds and resources.