Even if you were able to raise enough money to get your garden project off of the ground, you should still think about how you will sustain the garden in the long run. If you are not running an entrepreneurial project where profits from sales can help you fund the next year of gardening, you may need continual assistance in the form of materials and monetary funds to keep your project healthy and growing.
The four basic keys to ongoing fundraising as developed by the School Garden Wizard are:
Start your garden with the assistance of others
If people, organizations, or businesses are involved in your project from the start, they will have an interest in continuing to see it thrive. There is a certain pride involved in being able to say "I helped start that." People who invest early on will often be more dedicated to the ongoing success of the project than those who get involved once it is underway.
Share news about the project on a regular basis
People who helped you get funds to build a gazebo would be happy to receive a photo of the completed project in the mail, or to be invited to attend a party celebrating the completion of the project. Keep your supporters in the loop through newsletters, a website, or a list-serve. Make sure they know how their contributions are helping build a successful gardening program.
Give your contributors credit for their help
If this involves posting a sign in the garden or creating a page on your website, make sure you acknowledge who has helped get you where you are. Seeing that you give your contributors credit may also help you attract new investors.
Be open to new ideas and change
Do not let yourself get stuck in the "way we have always done it." Make sure you let your supporters know that your project is flexible and evolving, and that you are willing to take suggestions and advice.
You may also want to consider:
Creating a track record
Even though it can be a challenge to think in numbers, numbers do speak to some people - particularly grant foundations! If you start early on tracking your progress, you can make a case when applying for a grant or approaching a new donor. Depending on the type of garden project you are involved in you can track numbers like: pounds of produce grown/sold/donated; number of youth/adults/seniors/children involved; value of neighbor properties; heath impacts on gardeners; (for training programs) job skills learned, job-placement rates, etc.
For more specific tips on how to raise funds or apply for grants, see our Fundraising page.