Session Details

Sustainable Funding Models for Park Nonprofits

Learn from two successful park conservancies about creative and innovative fundraising strategies for creating sustainable long-term funding sources.

Forest Park Forever, a leading parks conservancy in St. Louis, has a compelling story to share about how it built a $100+ million endowment for ongoing Forest Park maintenance. Their presentation will focus on three core areas: the structural agreements between Forest Park Forever and the City of St. Louis, about bond transactions and cooperative maintenance, that allow this endowment to exist, grow and be put into the park; the strategies used to inspire the community to support the endowment for the park, including a recently completed major fundraising campaign; and new steps Forest Park Forever is taking to continue growing its endowment and how the dollars are being put to use.

In 2015, the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy eliminated their membership program and replaced it with messaging that encourages people to take ownership of their parks instead. Traditional fundraising best practices have encouraged that "membership" is a necessary platform for inspired giving. While this may be fairly stalwart in other areas of giving, parks are already free to our donors. Member levels with gifts associated with them were done away with and they began acknowledging donors at every level as supporters. The organization's newsletter was revamped to become a donor newsletter communicating what "you" the donor have accomplished. The newsletter has no hard asks, but raises more than $70,000 per year instead of having to be carried as an overhead cost. With this strategy unrestricted giving to the organization increased and donor retention hit a high of 64.7% in 2017.


  • Learn about creative fundraising strategies for sustainable long-term funding.
  • Find out how a Forest Park Forever built a $100+ million endowment for forest park maintenance.
  • Learn how the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy created a platform for inspired giving by encouraging people to take ownership of their parks.
  • Find out how to generate an uptick in unrestricted giving.