Fundraising Resources

In order to implement any projects or programs, your group needs to raise the money to do it. While fundraising can be intimidating, the most important thing to do is just ask!

What types of support are there?

Support for your Friends Group comes in a variety of ways. See the list below for ideas on what types of support your group may seek.

Cash Donations

Donations by cash, check, or credit card can be used to cover any expenses. Cash donations usually come from group members, community members, families, etc.

Where to find this support:

Individuals

Friends of Whitewater gather for dinner in park lodge
Friends gather for dinner

Grants

Grant funding is typically acquired for a specific project. This money may be distributed to the Friends Group up front or as a reimbursement. To learn more about grants, check out the Grant Guide.

Each year, P&TC publishes a Grant Guide that holds snapshots of a number of grants that Friends Groups may be interested in pursuing.

Where to find this support:

Community Groups

Foundations

Government Entities

In-Kind Donations

These are non-cash donations—usually goods or services. Examples include food and beverages for an event, silent auction items, website development, shovels and gloves for a service project, etc. In-kind donations can come from local businesses or big companies.

Where to find this support:

Businesses

Individuals

Matching Funds

Some grants require a budgetary percentage match from additional sources, to show there is local investment in the project. Additionally, some workplaces will match donations their employees make to an organization, and other companies may sponsor a challenge match for all new memberships to a Friends Group in a given period of time.

Where to find this support:

Community Groups

Foundations

Government Entities

The Parks & Trails Council lobbied the Legislature for funding to match Federal Transportation Enhancement money so that this crucial bridge could be built.

Membership Dues

An annual membership fee of $5-$35 is a great way to obtain ongoing income to support everyday expenses. Some groups have different contribution levels that each come with their own perks.

Where to find this support:

Businesses

Community Groups

Individuals

Restricted Funds

Individuals or companies may donate money to be used for a specific purpose only. This can happen with projects like a land acquisition, capital construction project, etc.

Where to find this support:

Businesses

Community Groups

Foundations

Government Entities

Individuals

bikers on trail through prairie with Glendalough Trail sign and Legacy sign
The Friends helped build the Glendalough Trail through the park into downtown Battle Lake

Sponsorship

Businesses may sponsor an event by providing money in exchange for logo and announcement recognition at an event. A business may sponsor something like printing t-shirts for the group, as long as their logo is included on the shirt too.

Where to find this support:

Businesses

Community Groups

Board member Anne Flueckiger bidding on the auction

Volunteer Time

Time is money, and people that volunteer their time and skills contribute an enormous amount of support.

Where to find this support:

Businesses

Community Groups

Individuals

Clean Up Day at Father Hennepin State Park. Photo courtesy of East Central Energy
Clean Up Day at Father Hennepin State Park. Photo courtesy of East Central Energy

Fundraising Tips & Best Practices

While creating a fundraising plan, consider the following strategies to help make the process go smoothly and ensure your group is bringing in the support!

Create a Budget

An important step in creating a fundraising plan is identifying what your group’s financial needs are. Consider the following types of costs.

Ongoing Expenses

  • Website domain name
  • Newsletter printing & mailing
  • Meeting refreshments
  • Bird seed

Special Events

  • Marketing materials
  • Permits
  • Supplies for activities
  • T-shirts
  • Food and beverages

Special Projects

  • New benches along a trail
  • Play equipment for a park
  • Land acquisition
  • Historic building restoration
  • New trees for planting

Utilizing these anticipated expenses, create an annual budget, broken down by month, to get a picture of typical monthly expenses and times of the year where you may incur more expenses. Big projects or events may warrant their own, separate budgets.

Sketch of proposed Glendalough Trailhead

Delegate Responsibility

Have different board members, volunteers, or committees take charge of a specific portion of fundraising. For example:

  • Planning an event
  • Filling out a grant application
  • Creating a draft budget
  • Brainstorming new fundraising ideas

Make it Relatable

Create a funding spectrum that highlights what each dollar amount enables your group to do. For example:

  • $10 plants one new tree along the trail
  • $50 covers postage for one newsletter mailing
  • $250 brings a class of students on a field trip to the park
He found two oak trees ready for tree cages.

Establish Contribution Sizes

Break down your donations into size categories—small, medium, and large. It is important to focus energy on obtaining contributions from each size category, which will help your group maintain a resilient funding base.

girls in interpretive center eagle nest
Eaglets in the nest by Jennifer Jackson

Repeat Success

If events you’ve hosted or strategies you’ve implemented have proven successful, use them again! For example:

  • Host an annual 5k run
  • Do a spring and fall membership drive
  • Give SWAG to new members

Make procedures and systemize the process so that it gets easier to facilitate each time.

Group serving pancakes in the park visitor center
Friends of Wild River organize a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the park

Recognize Donors

Establish how you will thank your donors. For example:

  • Mention them in the newsletter
  • List them on the website
  • Have a special donor appreciation event
  • Acknowledge them at the annual meeting
Cutting the ribbon on the new campground for Lake Vermilion State Park
Cutting the ribbon on the new campground for Lake Vermilion State Park

Tax Deductible Donations

Donations to your group are only tax deductible if your organization has 501(c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service and is a Minnesota nonprofit corporation. Some groups attain both of these designations, which require a bit of time, effort, and commitment.

Alternatively, the Parks & Trails Council of Minnesota offers a Fiscal Sponsorship program that enables a Friends Group to become a Fiscal Client under the nonprofit umbrella of Parks & Trails Council. This means, P&TC assumes responsibilities of funds dedicated to your Friends Group, and your group can accept tax deductible donations. See the Fiscal Client Partners page for more details.