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Environmental Education in Botanic Gardens - Guidelines for Developing Individual Strategies

Number 9 - July 1994

J. Willison

Due to financial constraints, botanic garden educators are increasingly having to look at ways of funding their education programmes. Fund raising is a skill that has to be learned. There is enormous competition for charitable funds and donations. If educators are to do the job successfully they need:

  • time set aside particularly for this purpose
  • access to materials such as directories of grants and social funds
  • access to some kind of training in this area
  • access to specialist advice.

Organisations and companies that are not in a position to give money may be able to give sponsorship in the form of equipment, time and materials.

Writing Fundraising Proposals

Before writing a proposal, whether it be to a company or a grant making trust, the following points need to be addressed:

  • what exactly is funding being sought for: e.g. education project, newsletter, staff costs, office equipment?
  • has the budget and its complete breakdown been determined?
  • are the benefits to the donor clear, e.g. company logo on a publication, invitation to a reception, visits to gardens?

When targeting a company or a trust, it is helpful to know what their areas of interest are. Many charitable directories and trust/grant guides will specifically state that company or trust "X" only gives to education or the arts or the environment, etc.
When making an approach to a company, it is important to be creative and see if there is a natural link with company. For example, botanic gardens could link with garden centres, seed companies, nurseries, fine china(floral patterns)...

When proposals are sent to companies or trusts, they need to be very brief and to the point. If guidelines are laid down by the company these should be adhered to. If not, then proposals need to include:

  • a brief background section,
  • a description of the project and
  • the approximate cost.

If a company/trust is then interested in further information, a fully detailed proposal would be submitted including budget specifics.
Well prepared fund-raising efforts can not only create income for the garden but also promote and publicise the garden’s objectives, instilling goodwill – even if funding is not forthcoming. Success rates in fundraising are not always high, but continued efforts will invariably pay off.