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Funding for Educators

Funding, or the lack thereof, is the bugbear of many botanic garden education departments. Often it is a case of making sure we use the resources we have to the best of our abilities, applying our own creativity to the situation. Importantly we can also use evaluation (see section on evaluation) to ensure that the funds we have are being used effectively and to prove ourselves to potential funders, and senior management.

To really demonstrate the importance of education and interpretation within a site, the Science Museum in London uses an interesting method to get senior management more involved with the on-the-floor work by education.The Museum brings in families for a free day at the site; they are joined and shadowed by members of the management team.

The managers are allowed to interact with the family, but not direct them in any way….they soon find the value in having excellent interpretation and visitor orientation (Gamon, B. (2004) presentation to U.K. Botanic Gardens Educators Network).This kind of exercise can be a valuable tool in the fight for further funding!

Alternatively, you may need to find funding yourself, to support current projects or set up new ones.Have a look at the two articles below for ideas and suggestions on how to find funding for your programmes.

The Search for Funding

Botanic gardens need to plan carefully if their fund-raising efforts are to be successful. The search for funding is not an easy task; it requires determination, persistence, imagination and good humour. Botanic gardens need to decide what they want to achieve in the short, medium and long term and develop a clear strategy for fund-raising (Wyse Jackson 1998). There are several key steps that those responsible for fund-raising should follow - see article for details.

Fundraising

Due to financial constraints, botanic garden educators are increasingly having to look at ways of funding their education programmes. Fund raising is a skill that has to be learned. There is enormous competition for charitable funds and donations. If educators are to do the job successfully they need:

  • time set aside particularly for this purpose
  • access to materials such as directories of grants and social funds
  • access to some kind of training in this area
  • access to specialist advice.

For more information about fund raising in a botanic garden, see the Darwin Technical Manual for Botanic Gardens, chapter 11 'Funding', p128.