Funding Strategies For Government-Affiliated Gardens

Lowe, Cheryl
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University of Delaware
Approximately one-third of the public gardens in this country are administered by government agencies, or dependent upon government funds for annual operating support. This research documents the basic financial framework for this group of public gardens by studying sources of funds, non-monetary or in kind support services, and partnerships between public and private organizations. Thirty-seven gardens representing different budget sizes and different geographic regions of the country are surveyed, and results analyzed. Funding sources are analyzed for frequency of use and percentage of operating budget. They are placed into three major income categories for analysis: government income, earned income, and contributed income. Funds for capital projects are most often from general taxes, bonds, donations, and fundraising. In kind services such as insurance, building maintenance, and legal services are used by 89% of the gardens. Cooperative arrangements between government and private organizations are common (89% of surveyed gardens) and extremely varied. Governing authority, management agreements, division of program responsibilities, and fundraising issues are discussed. Although government agencies are the primary governing authority in two-thirds of the gardens, program and funding responsibilities are most often shared in some way. Comparisons are made between gardens with small, medium, and large budgets. There are correlations between size of operating budget and type of governing authority, and between size of operating budget and the existence of a written agreement. Comparisons are also made between minor, moderate, and major government funding levels. Income categories, governing authority, in-kind services, and the existence of written agreements show some correlation to the level of government funding. Based upon the evaluations of the survey participants and the existing literature, suggestions are made for improving cooperative arrangements between government and private organizations. Key elements are planning, communication, mutually agreed upon written documents, trust between partners, support for the garden’s mission from within as well as outside the garden, and political acuity.
Financial management , Fundraising , Government , Collaboration