Rethinking Parks Project

Charitable Giving to Parks and Green Spaces: Public and Business Opinion in Leeds, UK

The Leeds Parks Fund

Introduction

In 2018, the team behind Leeds Parks Fund with researchers from the University of Leeds received funding to undertake a 2-year project to investigate the potential of charitable giving to parks and green spaces.  The aim of the project is to make a positive difference to Leeds parks and their communities by inspiring individuals and businesses to make charitable donations to them through Leeds Parks Fund.

The project is part of a national scheme called Rethinking Parks that aims to develop promising and innovative new operating models for parks across the country.  It is funded by National Lottery Community Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund and Nesta.

Leeds Parks Fund

The Leeds Parks Fund supports community-led improvements and enhancements to parks and green spaces over and above the City Council’s current work in parks.

The Leeds Parks Fund is a charitable initiative dedicated to enhancing over 600 public parks and green spaces in Leeds for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. Donations by local people and businesses will be used to make these places even better, for example, by planting more flowers and trees, improving play areas, restoring historic features and providing more wildlife habitats.

Community groups will be able to apply to the Leeds Parks Fund for a grant to improve their local park or green space and an independent panel will decide how the funds are allocated.

Donations will be used to support a range of projects that make a measurable improvement to the quality of parks and green spaces across the city, against the Green Flag criteria which is the benchmark standard for recreational outdoor spaces across the UK and around the world.

The Research

The first phase of the project was research led by University of Leeds into what local people and businesses think about the idea of charitable giving to public parks.

This research explored the role local people and businesses can play in improving and sustaining public parks for future generations, at a time when local councils are increasingly at risk of budget cuts from central government.

Through online surveys and group discussions, the research explored the views of Leeds residents and business towards charitable giving to parks and green spaces, and the Leeds Parks Fund charitable initiative in particular. It investigated views on role and place of charitable giving and local fundraising within other options for supplementing the core funding of parks. The findings are feeding into future plans for sustaining and improving the city’s public parks.

The findings are being shared nationally through the Rethinking Parks scheme, feeding into future plans for sustaining and improving the nation’s public parks.