Once you’re on the journey of setting up your School or Community Garden, it’s important to think about how you’ll cover the costs involved. Here are some ideas of how to make life easier for yourself by searching for funding, donations and even freebies!
Make the most of your Cultivation Street ambassador’s local knowledge. In many cases, they can help with project planning and may have suggestions of how to apply for funding. It’s also important to link up with your local ambassador in case there are any promotions available to you to get your garden off on the right foot, such as the Calliope® geranium give-aways that are available through Cultivation Street ambassadors and social media prize draws.
There’s lots of funding available, you just need to know where to ask. Approaching local businesses for sponsorship is a great idea, because lots have fantastic community involvement and money set aside to give back to local projects. Some businesses are happy to sponsor a specific part of your project and others, such as banks, sometimes offer a form of ‘match funding’ where they match any funding that you raise yourself. Start by considering bigger local employers, banks and estate agents as contributors as they’re most likely to have the funds readily available and then think about branching out to the small business owners too.
It's worth thinking about approaching your local supermarkets as well. For example, Tesco support school and community projects using the money raised from the 5p carrier bag charge and if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Local councils and town trusts can offer grants and local funding aimed at community and voluntary organisations. They also have small pots of funding to support small projects. Be mindful that in order to qualify for funding, you are likely to have to meet certain criteria. It’s important to make sure you are careful to apply for funding or grants that match your project – whether they’re looking to support school, community or outdoor projects in particular. In such a scenario, you may have to be able to demonstrate how your project meets their criteria and how their funding will benefit your school or community.
Top tip – make a note of the deadline before you start the process of applying!
The National Lottery can also provide funding. The National Lottery Community Fund, previously known as The Big Lottery Fund, funds projects and activities that make communities stronger, more vibrant and, most importantly, that are led by the people who live in them.
There are grants more specifically geared towards schools that are available for suitable projects. Grants 4 Schools is a subscription-based resource that helps schools to apply for grants. Other funding might come from places like The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award which has a really good selection of funding opportunities at both a national and local level. The Children in Need award is granted to organisations who support disadvantage children and young people, so if this is a cause your project is involved with, they have excellent information about the application process on their website. For community projects, the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) uses landfill tax to offer grants to support community projects near landfill sites. If you live within a certain radius, you can apply for a grant towards specific elements of your project.
Online giving and fundraising
It might also be worth setting up your own fundraising page through credible websites such as Just Giving which supports charity and personal causes or Spacehive which is the UK's dedicated crowdfunding platform for building community-focused initiatives.
Before you begin to approach these funding platforms, first identify any costs involved so that you are clear to the people you approach where their money will go.
You could also hold local competitions, fetes and other events to raise funds. Keep an eye on our fundraising pages which are full of fundraising ideas for more inspiration.
Freebies and free help
Don’t be afraid to ask for things that you need. There are great websites such as Freecycle where you can ask for things you are looking for to avoid them going to landfill.
Other websites link up people who can offer specific skills with those who need them but again, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s often easier to ask for help for specific jobs rather than help in general. People are more likely to offer to help with something they feel comfortable with rather than not knowing what they would be doing.
A lot of community gardens get support from those who can donate items to the cause, rather than money. And these can be equally as helpful. Donations of equipment and tools too might just come your way, so don’t be afraid to ask around! Ask local businesses whether they might donate materials or labour for the benefit of the community. It doesn’t have to be posh – often their rubbish (old tyres, broken wooden benches, palettes) can be used to great effect in a community garden.
Also, as a tip, remember to approach smaller local businesses if you are looking for prizes to run a raffle.
If you’d like more advice, check out our other top tips on starting or running a community garden and the benefits of Community Gardening. For inspiration, have a read of our stories. Take this opportunity to get gardening and you never know – next year’s winner could be you!
Cultivation Street is all about community and we love to share tips and advice. Have you been successful applying for funding? Or do you offer any funding? If you’ve got anything else to share, do get in touch!
If this story has inspired you to become part of the Cultivation Street campaign, register for free now to take your community gardening project to the next level.
You’ll receive an array of free resources, from seed packs, Calliope® plug plants and planting calendars to seasonal newsletters jam-packed with gardening advice, ideas and success stories to whet your gardening appetite. You’ll also be given a chance to win big in the annual Cultivation Street competition, which has a staggering £20,000 to giveaway to school and community gardening projects that are changing the lives of people across the UK.