Archive for fundraising

Idaho Elementary School Receives Playcraft Project of the Year Award

Ernest Hemingway Elementary receives the 2016 Playground Project of the Year Award from playground manufacturer, Playcraft Systems

Ernest Hemingway Elementary, Ketchum Idaho: The students at Ernest Hemingway Elementary have been enjoying their new playground for almost a year now. The new playground equipment replaced old equipment that had been in the ground for over 25 years.

The entire playground was designed by Playcraft Systems of Grants Pass, Oregon and installed under the direction of Blaine County Maintenance Director, Lester Wilson, who is a Certified Playground Safety Inspector. Wilson was instrumental in choosing a design that was both challenging and fun for the students and met safety requirements.  

The installation was completed in May of 2016 with the grand opening just before school let out for the summer. However, extensive planning and fundraising started the year before.

Principal Don Haisely and PTO President Laura Gvozdas persisted in making the new playground exceptional. In addition to expanding the original footprint to include more playground toys, swings and spinners, they combined the fundraising efforts of the school and the City of Ketchum, whose Parks building is adjacent to the school property. Together, these groups set a precedence; Hemingway Elementary was long overdue AND nothing less than the best would do.

Playcraft Playground Award at Ernest Hemingway Elementary

The playground fundraising efforts kicked off in May of 2015 with the Hemingway Walkathon Fundraiser where the Hemingway students raised $22,000 for their new playgroundThe fundraising committee then continued those efforts throughout 2015 by meeting with local foundations and organizations as well as circulating a fundraising mailing to individuals in our community in order to raise the funds needed for this important playground.”  Laura Gvodas, PTO President

Of all the Playcraft playgrounds installed last year, the Playcraft team chose the Hemingway playground to receive the prestigious “Project of the Year Award.” The award is given for the most improved playground, outstanding design and exceptional team work.

Nicole Stoddard, of LuckyDog Recreation represented Playcraft Systems and presented the award to Ms. Laura Gvozdas and Mr. Lester Wilson during a school assembly, May 2017. If you haven’t played on the new equipment yet, you owe it to yourself and your family to check it out. Bring a picnic, because the playground is so much fun and offers a lot to do, you will want to make a day of it. Ernest Hemingway Elementary, 111 8th Street,
Ketchum, ID 83340.

“Thank you to everyone who contributed and pushed to make this outstanding playground a reality for the kids of Ernest Hemingway Elementary.  A project of this magnitude takes great leadership, loads of attention, dedication and hundreds of contributions of time, money and effort.”  Nicole Stoddard, LuckyDog Recreation

Playcraft Systems Project of the Year Award to LuckyDog Recreation

Ernest Hemingway Elementary School Playground Ribbon Cutting

Ernest Hemingway Elementary School Playground Grand Opening

Playcraft Systems Playground Equipment at Ernest Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum Idaho

Ketchum Idaho Kids at Play on Playcraft Systems Playground Equipment

Park and Playground Fundraising for Utah and Idaho

Any group that takes on a fundraising project has a big job ahead of them. The good thing about Utah and Idaho park and playground fundraising is our sense of community. We live in an area where people have a very high care factor for their fellows.

LuckyDog 13 Guide for Utah and Idaho Park and Playground Fundraising

1. Follow the fundraising tips Lisa gives in the above New Harmony Park video.

Crowd Funding Resources: Try Spacehive, Fund Your Park, Chuffed, or Indigogo.

Seriously put some thought and effort into this, the pay off can be huge! It takes someone who is really willing to get in and learn every thing there is about the application process and how to appeal to the crowd. Remember to include professional pictures.

One more thing, since there are so many crowd funding resources, take the time to research which one will work best for you. Choose one that has little competition in your niche or fund different parts of your project at different sites. Always include the crowd funding link in everything you do.

Get your community involved…more on how to do exactly that in this article.

2. Purpose – Have a Clearly State Purpose for Your Fundraising Project.

To provide playground equipment for “Name of Park” which sits in a growing family neighborhood with 300 children and very little open space. The closest park or playground is over is 30 miles away. The city has set aside an area for “Name of Park” but has not been able to fund the park equipment.

To create a safe place to play by updating the old park with playground equipment that meets all safety standards and ADA requirements. The current equipment is over 35 years old and does not pass safety codes and does not provide any play areas for the disabled.

To provide play equipment with easy access for people with special needs and the disabled. The current park does not provide stimulating activities that are conducive to self play and sensory stimulation for the severely disabled. (The New Harmony Instruments definitely fits this criteria.)

3. Park and Playground Fundraising Tools You Will Need

Use these tools to be sure you have all of your ducks in a row before your go before the public. In other words shoot through the starting gate ready to win the race.

a. A team of willing workers.

Find the most willing group of people for your team. These will be people who really have the purpose to get the project done.

Everyone has a different talent they can contribute. Some will stick through the whole program, some will drop off. The more you utilize their talents the longer more they will give. Push the purpose and give them lots of recognition for a job well done. Be sure to handout plenty of “thank yous”.

b. Create a Facebook Group

I could write a whole dissertation on this but it has already been covered here.

c. Create a Professional Website

Your website will serve several purposes:

  • Use it as the hub for everything you do.
  • It is where you can send people to make online donations. Until Facebook has their donation app ready you will need a website with all you basic information and an easy way to make a donation.
  • Big Sponsors will see that you are serious. Also you can give sponsors kudos and link back to their website.
  • You can easily post to Facebook from your website.
  • This is where you can provide links for web banners that can be used on individual websites and business websites.

d. Create an Instagram Account 

Don’t under estimate the power of Instagram, especially when you use a group hashtags and add a location to all of you pictures. 

Plus Instagram is owned by Facebook so you can post directly to your Facebook account. People love to see what is happening. Pictures make your project more real.

e. Put Together a Strong Media Package

You will find more on this below.

4. The Team

This team organization puts a leader over every major area. You can scale this according to the size of your project.

Break up team jobs into different sectors and write a description of each job. Each person will be more able if the know exactly what they will be doing.

  • The Team Leader, should be someone that knows how to oversee every aspect of your project and inspire people to do their jobs. This person should not have to get into the trenches, but needs to be a strong leader. This could be the school principal, a local church leader or a county commissioner.
  • Crowd Funding In-charge will look for the best resources and handle the application.
Major Sponsors In-charge will find and ask for donations.
  • Local Media In-charge for radio, news papers and TV.
  • Social Media In-charge for website, Instagram and your Facebook Group.
  • Print Media In-charge for posters, flyers, donation cards and envelopes and media packages.
Fundraising Events In-charge, to over see planning and co-ordination of events.

As you can see the leaders will be interdependent on each other to get all projects completed.

5. The Goal

Start by having an exact financial goal in mind. We can help you put this together, whether you are planning an entire park or ordering companion pieces like benches or some fun new Harmony Park Outdoor Instruments.

Break this goal up in to 3 parts.

1. Decide on a base amount you need to get the ball rolling. Spark donation interest by garnering financial aid from major sponsors. One fourth of what your need is a nice foundation to work from.

2. At the half way mark you can assess how it is going. Look at what worked, rinse and repeat. Then look at what still could be done to get you to the final goal. Now that you have some experience under your belt new ideas will pop up.

3. The home stretch, we have found, usually takes a big push over the last hurdle. The final goal is so close and yet seems so far away. Give tons of thanks to those who have contributed. Tap in to your media sources again. Also go back to your major sponsors again. You will be surprised at how many will donate again when you show what you have accomplished.

6. Getting Sponsors – Think out side of the box.

In small communities the large grocery chains or big restaurants are an obvious choice for big sponsorship. Go for some of the unusual prospects.

Local Political Candidates – These guys could use your good cause to be a campaign issue that everyone can rally around. Pick a candidate that is willing to mention your project every chance they can.

Real Estate Companies or Individual Realtors – Imagine them promoting you in every ad or on their social media. Impress them with your media package.

Hair Salons – These ladies will love to show off their sponsorship and ask their clients to donate. (This is where your media pack comes in handy…include donation cards and envelopes.)

Construction Companies – Small construction companies are rarely asked to be a sponsor. A sponsorship is a great way they can get their name out to potential customers.

Print Shop – Have them be a sponsor in exchange for printed materials. Give them lots of kudos in all of your advertising, this is one business you want on as part of your group.

Car Wash – Think about it. The guy that owns the car wash probably has never been asked to he a sponsor. He can place banners on his building and sponsor car wash fundraisers.

Landscaping companies, mowing companies, local dairies, the tractor supply, gravel pits, horse trainers, builders, painters, greenhouses…I am sure once you start making your list you can come up with a whole lot more.

Large Communities – Think outside the box too!

You will be amazed at how well this works. Once you have the “unusual” sponsors you will be surprised at how many of the more usual sponsors will jump on board.

7. Go For The Big Guns

Most major corporations have funds set aside for donations. You are most likely to win these if you have a non-profit status because they use donations as a tax write off.

In Idaho: Major CompaniesTop Major Companies

In Utah: Major CompaniesTop Major Companies

Start with an announcement. Mail them a card that simply states what you are doing and why. Give them a link to your website and Facebook Group.

Next, mail a list of Sponsorship Levels and simply ask if they would consider being a sponsor.

Now meet with the person who can make the decision one on one. Even if they have donated in the previous step, do this! Deliver your full media package so they can participate. I know it may be tough, but this is a good time to ask them to consider increasing their donation.

It never hurts to ask some you know who is in good communication with any major company to help you get in and see the right person.

8. Your Strong Media Package

Again a good media package goes a long way to getting support whether it is with an individual, a small group or a large corporation.

  • Have a clear statement of your purpose.
  • Include who is involved and why.
  • Also include photographs so they will have more reality on what you are doing.
  • Clearly state your goal and the date you have set to meet that goal.
  • Let them know exactly what their donation will fund, will it pay for media and promoting or go directly
    toward play equipment.
  • List all sponsorship levels and how they will be recognized.
  • Don’t be afraid to include a list of those who have already come on board as sponsors, especially local businesses, individuals and small groups.
  • Include donation cards and envelopes.
  • Give ideas on how they can get their staff to make individual contributions: a donation board, competitions, pitting one department against another, guessing contests.
  • Be sure your logo, website, Instagram Info and Facebook Group info are on everything.
  • Show how they can include you in their ads and social media. Provide banners on your website for their ads and social media.

Park and Playground Fundraising for Utah and Idaho | Sponsor banners.

8. Say Thank You – Again and Again

  • Give lots and lots of acknowledgement at events, on your website, Facebook and in Instagram.
  • Provide each and very donator with a window cling for their car or business. Choose a cling size according to the size of donations. Let major sponsor show off big.
  • Create a thank you video from the group and those who will benefit from your project.
  • Provide buttons, they can wear to events and about town.
  • Mail special invitations to major sponsors for all events. No they may not show up but this keeps them in the loop.
  • Keep them updated with letters, with photos and videos. You will find that most major sponsors donate again when you are in the home stretch stage of your goal.

Order Thank You Gifts Locally

Order your thank you gifts locally when ever possible. And no matter where you order your thank you gifts ask for a discount because you are fundraising.

10. Use Your Community

Local Businesses – Ask local business to list your fundraiser on their website and in all of their social media. Have them mention your fundraiser in their ads. Make it easy for them by providing them with a packet of all the information they need, include all of your goals and your a list of your major sponsors. Provide them with a link to banners they can use online.

Ask them to join your Facebook Group and Instagram. Then keep them updated on your upcoming events and your progress.

Scout Leaders – Contact you local scout leaders and tell them how they can help. Fundraising or participation in building part of your park would be perfect for and Eagle Scout project.

Civic Groups – In the video Lisa mentions contacting your local civic groups like the Kiwanis Club or Rotary. The Eagles Clubs are also big on helping.

Clubs – In our area the local riding club is so willing to help. They have put on shows, carried banners in the parade and gave horse rides during fair days. Put your thinking cap on and find your local clubs, these groups are already organized and willing to contribute.

Parade – Use the local parade and celebration to promote your cause. Build a float or get the local riding club to carry your banner. Remember to advertise your Instagram, Facebook Group and website.

Radio – You might be surprised to find that your local station would be glad to interview someone in your group about your project.

TV – Local TV stations are always looking for interesting good news stories…be their good news. Every station has a contact person for this exact purpose, get them to be on board with your cause. You can find them online at their website.

Newspaper – Write press releases for every event and send them to the local paper, always include good pictures. Every newspaper has a contact person you can stay in touch with. Again you can find them online. I can’t tell you how well this has worked for events.

11. Handling a “No”

If someone says no to donating money ask them to donate items or a service: Hair cuts, manicures, free car washes, printed materials, free oil changes, gift baskets, plants, flowers, to name just a few. These can be used as thank you gifts or for an auction.

Sometimes it is best just to take the no graciously.

12. Community Donation Day

Get everyone involved by having a day where every business in town donates proceeds from a particular services or item. For example all the funds from certain pies or cookies, all of the funds from tire repairs. This is a good event to hold once you are on the home stretch and have had lots of community involvement.

13. Photos and Video

No matter what you do, take lots of photos and video for Facebook, Instagram, media packs and for keeping your sponsors up to date.

Happy park and playground fundraising! We look forward to working with you.

Nicole Stoddard – LuckyDog, Utah and Idaho Park and Playground Equipment

P.S. Scratch cards are easy and successful fundraisers that support local businesses. This easy fundraiser is perfect for getting little kids involved in helping build their new playground.


Small Town Idaho Pulls Together for School Playground Equipment

For the final inspection of the Soda Springs, Idaho commercial playground equipment, LuckyDog’s official playground tester was Lucy Stoddard. She made sure the spinners worked as her daddy, CJ Stoddard, LuckyDog Construction Manager, did his inspection before turning the play equipment over to the School District, who put in the safety surfacing.

Idaho Commercial Playground Equipment - Official Test by Lucy

Lucy Stoddard, the official playground tester for LuckyDog Recreation.

Small Town With A Big Heart

With the tenuous efforts of Principal Debbie Daniels and the generous donations of the small rural community of Soda Springs, Idaho, Tigert Middle School was awarded with fun and challenging new playground equipment.

The new equipment sports the school colors red, black and silver. This structure is part of PlayCraft Systems™ Revolution Series (RV5 System) that is designed to keep kids moving and was selected specifically for the overhead challenges and spinners, called Gyro Spinners™ to challenge the middle grade students at Tigert.

Idaho Playground Construction in Soda Springs Idaho - Playcraft GyroSpinner

The LuckyDog construction crew worked through blustery fall days to make the new playground a reality for the school year.

Idaho Commercial Playground Construction by LuckyDog Recreation

LuckDog Recreation is Unique – Idaho Commercial Playground Equipment

You will find that our LuckDog full-service system works to your advantage. We don’t just sell you commercial playground equipment.

  • You get our help in presenting your new playground to staff and commissioners.
  • We assist you with fundraising ideas and sources.
  • Your wants and needs are put into every playground design.
  • You save time and money because we also install the playground equipment.
  • Safety inspections are done right on the job by our certified safety inspectors.

Like this playground? Download plans here. Playcraft/LuckDog Revolution Plans For Tigert Middle School

You will have to agree that this play system was a perfect choice! Take your kids on the challenge and see what a community can do when they come together.

Tigert Middle School
250 E 2nd South
Soda Springs, ID

Nicole Stoddard – LuckyDog Recreation, Idaho Commercial Playground Equipment

Playground Equipment Utah Call Button

Calling all Parents – Back to School Fundraising Strategies

Back to school fundraising strategies

Back to School Fundraising Tips

Back to school learning isn’t just for children. Parents, put your thinking caps on with these three school fundraising $$$’s for making the kids’ playground dreams come true.

  • $ = Local Activities. These include the cookie dough/gift card sales and the Box Top$ for Education collection drives. If your school already does the box tops clipping for general funds, perhaps a portion can be dedicated to the playground project. Or a Box Top$ bonus drive or sweepstakes contest could be earmarked for playgrounds.

Also included is the new trend to letting your current buying habits fund your project. Fred Meyer, Smith’s, and Target all give back a portion of your spending to any registered non-profit. Make it a campaign: Pay and Play!

Notice this section begins with the Expert Fundraiser website that is full of fundraising tips and support. Learn from the experts and avoid pitfalls.

  • $$ = Grants. Notice the Letters to Lowe’s contest and its deadline in early October. Can students write letters about how play breaks help them absorb and focus better on their studies? Perhaps the parent or project leader can write about the studies showing the necessity of play for integrating classroom learning. And the principal can write of how play aids the social integration and emotional stability necessary for learning.

Writing a compelling and complete grant application takes time. Starting now is a wise choice. So start now by setting up a calendar with deadlines from now into next year.

  • $$$ = Online Options. Involve the world in your playground. Reaching out through the online community connects your school’s needs with supporters from near and far. This newer option is well worth learning the new technology. As the kids tackle mathematics and science, parents can be studying Crowdfunding and how to make it work for a new playground.

Making the Most of Playground Space – Playground Planning

Fund Raising Tips

How to utilize your ground space to its full potential!

Just how big a project will your playground be?  It is usually a balancing act between the actual ground space, the available funds, and how many kids will be vying for play space.

While it may seem obvious that the area needs to have enough activity centers to keep the kids interested and involved, it might not be as obvious that the plan needs to also include both active and quiet play areas.

A playground that truly serves kids includes places for their quiet needs.  In planning, this means creatively finding space for calmer activities.  Can there be space for sand play?  A music corner or wind chime path?  A dreaming nook?

Often the quiet centers don’t require major purchases, rather an awareness of the need so they can be planned in.  Remember, including both types of play will bring a balance to your playground – and to the kids’ play.  Play on!

Taken from “Playground Equipment: Asking the Right Questions.” at Welcome to Christian School Products,

Are you in Utah or Idaho and need help with your playground planning? LuckyDog can help. We know fundraising, park planning and playground design and planning.

Better than a Playground Grant . . . Keeping It Real

Buying PowerFund Raising Tips

Get the Playground You Want at the Price You Deserve!

At LuckyDog Recreation we do not inflate the price of our equipment just so we can put it on “sale” or lead our customers to believe we are offering them a “playground grant”.  Our pricing structure is the “real” deal not a sales gimmick. Check out our nationally pre-bid buying groups called Cooperative Purchasing Organizations, CPO’s, that maximizes buying power for members just like you. It’s a little like a membership to Costco, but  it doesn’t cost you a dime to become a member or to benefit from the leveraged discounted prices.

At present the CPO memberships are available to non-profit’s such as government or public entities such as schools and public parks. Unlike “sales” or “playground grants” you are not restricted to a preselected set of playground structures or designs. Simply sign up to see how much buying power you can “earn” for the playground of your kids’ dreams.

Check out these LuckyDog Recreation CPO’s for savings that give you “real” buying power:

For PlayCraft Systems – become a member with TCPN – The Cooperative Purchasing Network at

For Dynamo Industries – sign up with NPP – the National Purchasing Partners at


When requesting funding for the playground equipment, whether through a grant proposal or a capital campaign request, focus on the needs of the students and/or community.  What benefits come to the students?  

In other words, replacing or adding playground equipment may:

  • create a safe and healthy environment for the students to play
  • enhance  physical fitness – Physically fit students are more likely to do well in their studies than those who are lethargic and out-of-shape.
  • increase children’s ability to learn and process knowledge through play
  • cost effective alternative to constructing a city park
  • benefits the community beyond  your students
  • students and families that gather at your playground, a safe place to play, can build bridges between social segments of the community
  • include the child with different abilities, such as physical or mental disabilities
  • balance children’s lives between study, outdoor play and electronic games

Live in Utah or Idaho and need help with your playground fundraising? Call us, we can help.

Pin It on Pinterest