Parks in Scotland to benefit from multi-million pound endowment fund plan

Greenspace Scotland has secured a £500,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant as the first step towards establishing a multi-million pound endowment fund for parks in Scotland.

Barony Community Garden. Image: Edinburgh City Council
Barony Community Garden. Image: Edinburgh City Council

The money is offered as match funding for any donations the fund attracts, which Greenspace Scotland is confident will reach the half million mark within three years. The £1m will be invested to provide an endowment to support Scotland’s parks in perpetuity, with the aim of growing the fund into the millions of pounds.

It is not only the money donated which HLF will match fund, but also the Gift Aid value through the income tax relief system for charities. 

Chief executive of Greenspace Scotland Julie Procter said: "Scotland’s parks are well-used and much loved. We want to ensure they continue to be cherished and nurtured so that we hand them on in good heart for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

"The Scottish Parks Endowment Fund is an easy and simple way for everyone who uses and loves Scotland’s parks to make a donation, large or small, to support our treasured parks. And it’s a great way to grow the value of your donation."

Greenspace Scotland is working in partnership with park listings and crowdfunding platform MyParkScotland – a registered charity – park friends, community groups and park lovers, both inside and outside Scotland, to run the fund.

MyParkScotland has already started taking endowment donations. Members of the public, businesses and organisations have so far donated. Edinburgh Council, for example, has donated its fee for filming rights in its parks to the scheme. When it grants permission, it asks for a donation into the endowment fund.

Procter added: "What we’ve put together is a plan over the next three years. We’re hoping that it’ll really catch the interest and enthusiasm of people. When we did the research for MyParkScotland, we found there wasn’t a single place to donate into an endowment fund for parks.

"We’ve done enough testing to feel fairly confident that in three years we’ll be able to raise that million pounds."

The funds will be administered by a board that will be able to draw down money quarterly. It will be used in the short term for training for friends groups and park managers, and in the long term for park investment.

"It’s not about replacing council funding," Procter said.  "There would be reluctance for people to give donations if they thought that would result in less council funding but if you’re looking to keep it as an added extra that is appealing.  

"In the medium to longer term we think this is going to be a significant change. It’s also about how we manage parks and breaking out of the annual budget cycles, and it’s looking back to some of the Victorian parks and how they were endowed.

"We think it’s one of the new models that have to be explored. On its own it’s not a silver bullet but it’s certainly part of the funding model going forward."

She said it was key that the endowment could fund parks but allow them to be kept in public ownership. "A lot of the discussions around endowment funds have been about putting parks into trusts. In Scotland we haven’t seen any appetite for doing that."

Scots make over 160 million visits to local parks and green spaces every year.

Donations are made online here.

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