20. Find funding

Some say, “money can’t buy everything,” while others espouse that “money makes the world go ’round.” Ultimately, many projects require money for basic materials. These funds exist. It is simply a matter of locating them and making an “ask.”

Areas of Interest: Connecting with Government, Networking, Technology, Thinking, Investigating
Ingredients: Telephone, computer and printer, envelopes, stamps, determination, gratitude
Directions: First, identify the project’s components. Determine materials easily donated and services volunteers could perform. Once you know the dollars required, identify one or more workable strategies:
Fundraising events – Like any good, old-fashioned community-based project, you can sponsor any number of local fundraising events. Car washes, garage sales and bake sales are all classic examples. Organize a neighborhood walk-a-thon on a course covering every street and have participants solicit sponsorships based on the number of blocks or miles walked. Ask local merchants and residents to donate items toward a raffle or an auction.
Local businesses – Write a letter describing your efforts and the specific project needing funds. Describe the benefits (such as publicity and community attention) the company will gain through its support. Be sure to follow up every letter with a phone call or a visit.
Local government – Contact the office of your city council member or county supervisor. Invite the council member or supervisor to one of your meetings or schedule a meeting with them. Share your excitement and succinctly describe the ways they can help you. Be prepared — they may have unknown means of supporting you. Ask them to write a letter of support to enclose with your request for donations from local businesses.
Residents – The people in your neighborhood may be your best funding source. Send out a friendly letter inviting participation in a variety of ways. Explain one very important need is financial involvement. Suggest different tiers of donations. You may need a nonprofit organization to officially receive the donations. Sending thank you letters to your donors and keeping them informed of your events and progress is a must.
Foundation funding – There are grants available for projects like yours. Contact your local urban forestry non-profit organization for more information on grant opportunities.
Most of the things worth doing in the world were declared impossible before they were tried. – Louis Brandeis