Fundraising for Trail Projects

Presenters: Bill Haas, FHWA; Marjo Curgus and Randy Neufeld, SRAM; Rich Cook, IMBA

Key tip: Track Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) updates on the Recreation Trails Program, a great source of funding for trail projects.

Overview: The first step is to fall in love with fundraising because it is a magical opportunity for others to embrace your vision. Others can literally buy-in when you share the value of your vision, tell them how much it costs and ask them to help.

More info:

Top 10 fundraising tips:

1. Get a buddy. Find someone from another IMBA chapter who has a similar project with a similar size fundraising target. Keep in touch with each other, advise each other and share deadlines so you have outside accountability.

2. Make a plan. How much do you need to raise? By when? who will it come from? Events? Major Donors? Services/contracts? Membership? Grants from government and foundations?

3. Diversify you funding sources. Especially for ongoing fundraising like staffing and general advocacy. Events, membership, major donor and services and contracts are the best package for start-up and all -volunteer groups. Foundation and government grants are longer term and require more org capacity, that usually means staff. Services and Contracts are things like wayfinding, user education, trail maintenance, public involvement, and planning.

4. Everyone is a potential donor. If they like your project it's not whether they contribute, it's how much they can contribute from small cash, to big cash, to volunteer time, to PR resources, to contacts.

5. Major donors like to see lots of grassroots support, so everybody is important

6. Create urgency. Tell people what's going to happen or not happen if they don't give NOW.

7. Capital campaigns are special. It's a one-shot chance to create something forever. They take time, so much so that most people get professional help. Generally fundraising costs are 5% to 15% of a capital campaign.

8. Developing major donors is a networking game. Develop a huge list using contacts from members, bike shops, and supporters. Prioritize the list and start talking to people. Ask for two things: 1. Money 2. More contacts. Who else might be interested? Will they help you contact them?

9. All grants are local. The national bike industry has limited resources compared to the many many great local projects. You will most likely be successful with local companies, local donors or where there is a local connection to the project.

10. Build a dream team—don't do it alone. Find corporate, community and other influential people and ask if you can use their name and contacts. You also need worker bees who can help you with events and campaign details.

Audience session survey results:

  • 37 total surveys
  • 22 with $ amounts, 15 without $ amounts
  • Total project costs $9.6 million
  • 3 projects > 1 million (1@ $5M, 2@ $1M)
  • 10 projects between $100K and $800K
  • 9 projects < $100K

Project breakdown on facilities that the sessions attendees are currently working on funding:

  • 9 trail construction
  • 6 general advocacy for trails
  • 2 kiosks and signage
  • 9 bike parks and ride centers
  • 1 land acquisition
  • 1 master plan
  • 2 staffing
  • 1 pumptrack