After acquiring an outdoor play area, a charity in Chippenham set out to transform it into an exciting, inspiring and safe space for children with special needs.

Based in Chippenham, Springboard has been supporting preschool children with special needs and their families since 1976. They accommodate 57 children over any given week and are proud of their high staff to child ratio (1:1 or 1:2). Additionally, they provide information, support and training to families and other members of the community that interact with their children and have been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. 

In 2020 they acquired an outdoor play space with lots of potential, though it wasn’t suitable for children with additional needs. The team dreamed of transforming it into an inspiring, exciting, and stimulating place where their children could have fun in the fresh air. Though, as a small charity that already needs to raise £140,000 per year to remain operational, they didn’t have the funds on hand to complete such a large scale project. 

After obtaining grant funding and offline donations, they still needed £15,000 to bring their vision to life which they hoped to raise through crowdfunding. This funding would allow them to re-landscape and resurface the grass covered area in the playground to make it accessible, install new inclusive play equipment, and build a flexible classroom for outdoor learning. 

Anne Farrell, Springboard’s Charity Finance Officer, explained, “We had never crowdfunded before though it was a fundraising method we had wanted to try for some time. Through the project, we hoped to engage with past supporters along with friends of our current supporters. It gave everyone involved a huge sense of satisfaction and achievement and it gave us the opportunity to showcase Springboard as an organisation.” 

Their crowd of 183 supporters came together to raise £15,666 and an estimated £2,026.75 in Gift Aid. This included a £5,000 boost from the Sovereign Thriving Communities fund which is supporting projects benefiting Sovereign communities. 

Anne said, “The project attracted far more supporters than we thought possible and they came from far and wide. It added more appeal to our appeal! In such challenging times, it has been heartwarming to have something positive to celebrate and the +Extra funding enabled us to completely finish the project. You see, we were looking at having to adjust the project and not have one piece of play equipment, but with the funding from Sovereign Thriving Communities, we were able to order everything which was incredible.”

After their Crowdfunder closed successfully, they re-designed the outdoor area during the holidays to ensure a minimal impact on the children. To celebrate its opening, they hosted a formal ribbon cutting event with their patron! 

Anne told us, “Our outdoor area has been completely transformed, giving us and the children an amazing space with a wow factor! The new all-weather flooring will enable the play area to be used all year round. There is also a new separate quiet area and safe space for the non-mobile children, which includes mirrors, musical equipment, beanbags, lights, and books. What we didn’t expect was how the children would play differently as there is an area of interest for everyone. The children were excited to enter the new play area and the excitement continued for weeks.”

She went on to say, “Due to the number of people watching our video, the Crowdfunder raised our profile. There was a formal opening event and our Patron, the Marchioness of Lansdowne, performed the ribbon cutting ceremony. The major funders (who selected the option on the Crowdfunder page) attended too. It was a lovely event which brought the project to a close.”

After such a successful first experience of crowdfunding, and receiving the amazing boost from Sovereign Thriving Communities, we wanted to know Springboard’s top tips for anyone else thinking about raising money from the crowd. 

Anne said, 

  • “Select the right project and have a realistic and achievable target.
  • Spend time planning your project before the launch. 
  • Have ideas for different pledge options (rewards), communicate with, and line up, potential donors and the press, and plan the promotional campaign and resource.
  • Factor in time to promote the campaign across all social media during your Crowdfunder and have photos and updates when the campaign is live.  
  • Have a good project title.
  • Before you go live, have someone independent read your draft campaign to obtain feedback. Make any adjustments necessary.
  • Use a video to tell the story and remember you do not need fancy equipment. We used a work smartphone.
  • At the end say thank you.”

Feeling inspired? Find out if you could receive up to £10,000 from the Sovereign Thriving Communities fund