If you need to improve the safety of an area playground, but are on a limited budget, grants can help offset the costs. Finding grants for playground equipment can seem like a daunting task, however there is funding available. You just need to know how to apply and where to find grants.
Before you start looking for grants, carefully plan what you want for the playground and assess specific needs. For instance, is the playground not safe? Is not up to regulations for those with special needs? Assessing these areas can make your request more effective and can also help determine the cost of your playground equipment. Itemise all projected costs and determine whether it is possible to cut back in any area, such as by having volunteers take down old equipment. Careful planning can help you in the research and application process.
Finding grants for playground equipment is an important part of the funding process. Make sure that the funder will provide grants for your location. There are a variety of databases that might help you locate grants for playground equipment, such as the Foundation Center and School Grants (links below). The Foundation Center is a paid database, but there may be a cooperating library in your area where you can research grant opportunities for free.
Networking in your local area may improve your chances of receiving a grant for playground equipment. Despite the financial strain, many businesses want to improve their image by funding local projects. Make a list of stores and businesses in your area that might be interested in supporting a project, including large stores, home improvement stores and stores that sell playground equipment. Some of these might provide a grant or a gift in kind to help support your cause.
Most funders require some type of application to consider your request for funding a playground. This can be done through a letter of inquiry, or a brief letter that introduces your need, the amount requested and who would be helped, it may, however, involve a full grant proposal. If a grant proposal is required, it is important to write it according to the funder's specifications and submit it before the deadline. Some funders for playground equipment provide rolling deadlines so you can submit your proposal at any time. The grant proposal should include information about your proposed playground project, the population the equipment will serve and an itemised budget. If supportive documents are required, you may want to submit letters of support from local businesses, government, school boards and leaders in your community. Also include a list of financial supporters and information on where you are applying.
If you receive a grant, be sure to send a thank-you note and follow up on procedures for grant reporting as required by the funder. Even if you do not receive a grant, a thank-you note helps you stand out from the crowd and may increase chances of future funding should you choose to submit another request.
Take into consideration that kids with special needs may need different playground equipment. Plan where the playground equipment will be installed to determine whether there will be any added cost. For instance, you may need have soft ground or put in a security fence around the playground to help improve child safety.
Some funders will require that you attain a matching grant. Showing that you have funding from another source proves the project is viable and that it can be completed. If a matching grant is required for your playground equipment, find out what fits under "matching." In some cases, volunteer hours can help make up for the difference.