Fundraising Resources

Please note that this page is still under development. We thank you for your patience as we finalize content.

In order to implement any projects or programs, your group needs to raise the money to do it. Check out the ideas and strategies below for inspiration. While fundraising can be intimidating, the most important thing to do is just ask!

Types of Support

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Sources of Support

You may ask different funding sources for different types of support. See the list below for ideas for where your group may look for support.

Local businesses may get a lot of requests, but they often provide cash sponsorships or in-kind donations—food, refreshments, event space, SWAG, etc.

Draw the link between what you are doing and the benefits to that group and the local community. Groups might provide cash, co-sponsorship for an event, volunteer teams, etc.

Check local and national foundations’ funding guidelines to see if your project matches their priorities. Connect with a program officer and submit a proposal. Check out the Grant Guide for some ideas.

People—adults, kids, families—who know and love your park or trail are really important. Some individuals may elect to contribute beyond the membership fee or volunteer their time.

The State of Minnesota and some federal departments offer grant programs or bonding opportunities to fund projects at parks and trails. See the Grant Guide for descriptions of some grant programs and the Advocacy Resources page for more details.

Creating 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.

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.

Download the Grant Guide

This guide includes an overview of funding from the state, foundations, and other sources. Peruse the guide if your group is interested in pursuing funding.

Fundraising Strategies

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!

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 Relateable

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.

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

Donor Recognition

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 Resources page for more details.