The Friends set out to raise $25,000 to fund a Butterfly and Biosphere Garden at the future Letchworth Nature Center, scheduled to open in 2016. Although this was a challenge for the organization given its small size, the Friends felt a great deal of community interest and increased membership could be generated by the campaign. The fundraising plan, developed by a committee led by volunteer Alan Gregg, included several strategies that, in the end, enabled the group to exceed its goal.
The Friends main event fundraiser was a dinner under a tent at the Glen Iris Inn in August. All 120 tickets to the event were sold. The evening included live and silent auctions, along with a raffle featuring prizes from nearly 100 donors. Parks & Trails New York donated a weekend ride on its Cycling the Erie Canal 2015 bike tour to the silent auction.
Committee members promoted the event and butterfly garden project at speaking engagements (i.e., Rotary, bookstore, historical society, park events) and developed a DVD on the park and the Friends group. Special butterfly t-shirts were also designed and sold. Volunteers targeted their home communities to sell tickets to the event, covering a 600-square-mile area.
The Friends also created an online crowdfunding campaign page through Fundrazr, and collected donations through traditional means. All money raised during the summer through the Friends’ usual fundraising efforts were earmarked for the garden.
Fundraising for the state-of-the-art nature center is also going strong. Organizers have raised $1 million as of this summer. An additional $600,000 in private donations is needed before the end of 2014.
The Friends were the recipient of a Parks & Trails New York Growing the Grassroots Grant. The $2,550 grant made a major difference in the visibility and energy of the Friends.