Green space groups focus on fund drive

Pilot projects in five UK cities will aim to pool donations from individuals and businesses to fund environmental works.

Parks income initiative prompted by local authority spending cuts - image: HW
Parks income initiative prompted by local authority spending cuts - image: HW

Green space chiefs are hoping to create a multimillion-pound, independent fund capable of attracting donations from individuals and local businesses.

The parks charity GreenSpace is spearheading the initiative, the Green Places Fund, and hope to roll-out pilot projects in Birmingham and Nottingham with potential buy-in from three other core cities.

The projects will involve community groups, local authorities, businesses and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working together to attract funding into one pot and identify projects or groups to fund.

Heavy local authority budget cuts prompted the charity to look at alternative ways of generating income. It is hoped that each pilot will attract £1m.

"Less than five per cent of charitable giving is directed towards environmental work. Apart from the National Trust, environmental groups have a low profile while urban-space organisations are comprehensively unknown," said GreenSpace chief executive Paul Bramhill. "The Holy Grail is to create a brand that all the NGOs can unite behind.

Pilot projects could work out strategies and try to lever in lottery match funding, Bramhill explained.

"We are piloting this in major cities and if it works we will look at drawing in other areas. However, there is lots to work out and this is not a total panacea for every organisation," he added.

"Some may feel that it waters down their message; others want money to serve only their members, while a few may feel a low-key profile helps more," said Bramhill.

"But while groups such as the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts, with echoes of the rural idyll, attract tens of millions of pounds, we are not good at selling the idea that we have green spaces on our doorstep," he added.

Practitioner's view - Sue Ireland, open spaces director, City of London

"I support the principle but think it will be easier to achieve in the cities they have singled out than in London. The scale of the organisations in the capital and the differing priorities could make it hard to balance out. It's also important to keep administration and bureaucracy small otherwise people will feel the money isn't going where they want it to go - the parks."

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