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How to Stretch Your Playground Equipment Budget


Buying playground equipment requires a wealth of resources, including funds and manpower.  With some commitment from your local community, you can save thousands with these tips.

Here's how your playground equipment budget will normally be allocated by percentage with a typical turn-key project:

* Equipment: 60%
* Installation: 28%
* Playground Borders: 7%
* Mulch/In-fill: 10%
* Taxes/Shipping 5%

Community Build
One of the best ways to stretch your playground budget is by having a community build to install your playground equipment.

Considering installations run between 25-40% of your total budget, it can be a disappointment to know that $6,000 of a $10,000 budget actually goes toward the equipment, while the rest is applied to installation/shipping/mulch/borders/taxes, etc.

Those who install their own playground gain a sense of ownership and responsibility toward the finished project, and the pride felt by the volunteers in their accomplishment translates into pride toward the church or the community. You'd be surprised the number of people willing and able to put their tools and efforts to work.

What is needed for your playground installation? Unfortunately, the major power tools should be left at home. The only major tools/equipment (assuming the site is level) are an auger/bobcat and a great attitude. 

Depending on the scale of your installation, the community build can be completed in a day or two (weather and volunteers permitting). Usually, the day prior to build is spent laying and punching the holes, prepping the components, and laying out the equipment in advance of your volunteers.

The key to organization is having activities for everyone to do, without requiring a lot of cooks in the kitchen.  The groups can be split into teams to tackle the various phases:

* Offloading and unpacking and sorting equipment
* Site preparation
* Post and platform assembly
* Panel and component assembly
* Borders and mulch installation team
* One or two runners for hardware/tooling drinks and food
* Project managers to coordinate the event.

The most important priority is to remember that this should be fun!  Ask local companies to donate goods or services to the Build Day, from construction materials to food and beverages. Offer free publicity or advertising on your playspace's signage as an extra enticement.

Here are a few more considerations with regard to Community Build:

* Check before you dig! Call ahead to have your local services identified on your build site—includes sprinkler lines.
* Verify that your design plans and installation instructions are in-line with site.
* Offload and secure equipment until build day.
* Review all of the installation instructions thoroughly before build day.
* Make sure the site has been prepared properly (i.e., less than 2% grade).
* Secure area off for 72 hrs to allow concrete to cure.
* Secure area from access if no surfacing has been installed.
* Provide adequate dumpster and haul off packaging.

Playground Fundraising Ideas
Budgeting for a playground is usually coming from capital funds, which means they are limited, as is the timeframe to meet these goals. Consider reaching out to the community for the following items:

* Playground containment borders for the mulch can be donated by local companies.
* Ask the mulch be donated if the certified playground surfacing cannot be included in the budget.
* Consider a leasing/financing option to pay for the project in installments.
* Take advantage of seasonal sales with your vendors.
* Consider phasing equipment if fundraising goals can be met in a 2-3 year timeframe.
* Memorialize donors with customized bricks/fence pickets/site furnishings/signage.

Other ideas include:

* Web Site Affiliate Programs
* Rebates
* Raffles
*Aquatic Races
* Golf Tournament
* Wrapping Paper
* Discount Cards
* Car Raffle
* Auctions
* Online Shopping
* CDs/Music
* Catalog Sales
* Book Fair
* Toner Cartridges
* Magazines

This information is courtesy of KORKAT, www.korkat.com.









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