Playground Fundraising Ideas

What is the best fundraiser for your school playground?

Playground fundraising is one of the most challenging obligations any school PTA/PTO or church can take on. Finding the balance between time, energy, and overall fit given your school’s region and resources and maximizing them is a science. An average sized commercial playground for a school of 1,200 students will cost close to $50,000. That’s $41.67 per child! Fortunately, the Fundraising Success E-book Suite takes all of the pain out of the research process for determining the best fundraising ideas.  Kimberly Reynolds has reviewed over 170 fundraiser ideas that work for schools, churches, daycares and non-profits and quantified each of these to determine the best overall performers. To view the complete list of over 250 pages and 170 products, in addition to the 300 pages of supplier profiles by category and a whopping authoritative guide to fundraising, visit Fundraising Success and scroll to the link on the left address bar to “My Book” to gain instant access to the e-book suite. This is THE definitive guide to school fundraising.


“Skip the evaluation section & take me to the list of the top performing fundraisers for school playgrounds!

How To Evaluate A Fundraiser?

This Section contains an impartial yet subjective ratings system for all the main fundraising categories. A point value to the major components of each type of fundraiser has been included in three major categories resulting in a final overall score. The ratings have broken down into three main categories: Financial Aspects, Pro’s & Con’s, and Commitment Requirement, to produce an Overall Rating. She’s also indicated the “Feel Good” factor, too.

Fundraiser Ratings Sample and How They Were Evaluated
Here’s what the Financial Aspects section looks like:

Financial Aspects (1 – 10 scale):
Profitability Ranking     8
Average Unit Price     7
Dollar Volume Per Participant   6
Percentage to Organization   5
Total Dollars to Organization 4
Subtotal (maximum of 50)           30

Here’s what the Pros & Cons section looks like:

Pros & Cons (1 – 5 scale):
Community Impression    5
Organizational Impact    2
Quality of Deliverables    4
Risks       3
Hidden Costs (freight, etc.) 5
Subtotal (maximum of 25)           19

Here’s what the Commitment Required section looks like:

Commitment Required (1 – 5 scale):
Preparation Time     4
Selling Effort       3
Collecting Funds     2
Processing Orders     3
Delivering Goods 2
Subtotal (maximum of 25)           14

Here’s 1 of 170 completed Sample ratings included in the e-book:

*SAMPLE Aquatic Races

Description: An event style fundraiser featuring a river race of numbered, plastic competitors such as ducks or turtles.  Sellers ask supporters to sponsor one or more ducks in the river race for $5 each.

Best Suited For: All

Prospective Customers: Fun Lovers

Comments: Increase participation through coupon sheet.  “Winning” ducks earn donated prizes for their sellers and their sponsors.  Can be huge profit for such a simple event ($30+ average profit per participant).

Feel Good Rating ™: Four ½ stars

Financial Aspects (1 – 10 scale):
Profitability Ranking     9
Average Unit Price     7
Dollar Volume Per Participant   8
Percentage to Organization   9
Total Dollars to Organization 8
Subtotal (maximum of 50)           41

Pros & Cons (1 – 5 scale):
Community Impression    5
Organizational Impact    4
Quality of Deliverables    4
Risks       4
Hidden Costs (freight, etc.) 4
Subtotal (maximum of 25)           21

Commitment Required (1 – 5 scale):
Preparation Time     4
Selling Effort       4
Collecting Funds     4
Processing Orders     5
Delivering Goods 5
Subtotal (maximum of 25)           22

Overall Ranking             84

(On a scale of 1 to100)

List of Top Performing Fundraisers For Your School, Church, or Non-profit Playground Project

Descriptions of fundraisers

  1. Web Site Affiliate Programs
  2. Rebates- from Referral Shopping
  3. Raffles
  4. Athlet-a-athon
  5. Aquatic Races
  6. Golf Tournament
  7. Wrapping Paper
  8. Gift Wrap
  9. Discount Card- Single Merchant
  10. Discount Cards
  11. Cards- Discount/Brief
  12. Car Raffle
  13. Auctions
  14. Stone-engraved/Pickets
  15. Software- educational
  16. Online Shopping
  17. CD’s/Music
  18. Catalog Sales
  19. Book Fair
  20. Toner Cartridges
  21. Special Events
  22. Music
  23. Magazines

Descriptions of Fundraisers:Back to list of Fundraisers
Web Site Affiliate Programs: Earn funds for your organization through your web site via affiliate shopping links, supplier rebates, etc. Provide a centralized repository of information, publicize events, conduct on-line auctions, distribute an e-mail newsletter, and automate a host of other fundraising activities
Rebates- from Referral Shopping: Position your non-profit organization to get rebates from your supporters on-line shopping. Use your website for click-through sales. Set up deals with sites that will pay you a percentage of what is bought. Example: Amazon pays a minimum of 5% on all click-through activity from your site.
Raffles: Event style draw or door-to-door ticket sale. You can do this as a standalone fundraiser or as a supplement. Various levels of interest based on the value of the prize(s). Can be a three-week community offering or a single night draw.
Athlet-a-athon: Event featuring athletic achievement with sponsorship backing. One example is the walk-a-thon where participants walk laps around the track with each sponsor contributing a certain amount per lap.
Aquatic Races: An event style fundraiser featuring a river race of numbered, plastic competitors such as ducks or turtles. Sellers ask supporters to sponsor one or more ducks in the river race for $5 each.
Golf Tournament: Event-type fundraiser based around a golf outing. Each player seeks sponsorship from various supporters who pledge contributions based on that person’s individual performance or that of their foursome. The fundraising is geared toward getting the maximum amount of sponsorship per player. The golf outing itself is a reward.
Wrapping Paper: The traditional holiday fundraiser featuring the catalog sale of gift wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbons, bows, address labels, and other related packaging items. Most catalogs have a wide selection of paper to choose from along with sample pieces so that prospective customers can see and feel the quality of your offering.
Gift Wrap: The traditional holiday fundraiser featuring the catalog sale of gift wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbons, bows, address labels, and other related packaging items. Most catalogs have a wide selection of paper to choose from along with sample pieces so that prospective customers can see and feel the quality of your offering.
Discount Card- Single Merchant: Immediate sale of cards with discount from a specific merchant. Usually are good for six months to one-year. Examples are discount cards from Dominos Pizza, Pizza Hut, etc.
Discount Cards/Brief Duration: Immediate sale of cards with discount offers included along with organization supporter logo on front side. Cards usually have 12 discount offers on the back or two-for-one deals on food items. These are ones that last for a half-year or less.
Cards- Discount: Immediate sale of cards with discount offers included along with organization supporter logo on front side. Cards usually have 12 discount offers on the back or two-for-one deals on food items. Usually are good for a one-year period.
Car Raffle: Event style fundraiser geared toward selling tickets for a chance to win a car. Prize and price should encourage multi-unit participation by each buyer.
Auctions: An auction done as a fundraising event can be the focal point of a fun evening. Get donated goods, gift baskets, gift certificates, and other popular items. Don’t forget service-based organizations when looking for donations. Also, seek out a professional auctioneer for maximum results. Their patter is part of the fun.
Stone-engraved/Pickets: Perfect for donor recognition. Laser engraved stones can be placed as attractive landscaping additions such as planters, walkway edging, athletic field entrance, school driveway border, etc.
Software- educational: Catalog sale of computer software on a CD with educational content. Could be reading, grade level activities, language, math, SAT preparation, etc.
Online Shopping: Organization gets paid for click-through sales from your web site or by entering an organization ID at a shopping site. An example of a click-through would be having an Amazon affiliate icon at your website. Anyone reaching Amazon through your site that then bought an item would earn your group a 5% commission. This is a way to tap into discretionary entertainment spending.
CD’s/Music: Primarily a catalog sales item, but there are also limited selection music fundraisers that are immediate sales or are done in conjunction with an event. This style offers what are commonly called compilation CD’s – ones that feature a theme or greatest hits/genre packages.
Catalog Sales: The biggest moneymaking fundraiser of all, if you have good merchandise at reasonable prices. One of the keys to getting good response is to have the right catalog for the time of year. An example would be a catalog with house and garden items offered only in the early spring.
Book Fair: Event-style fundraiser, primarily with children’s books. Works even better if you add in books appealing to adults either through direct availability (best) or catalog order. Can be turnkey hosted.
Toner Cartridges: Centralized collection of used toner cartridges from laser printers and inkjet printers. Several companies offer free shipping and generous amounts of cash for these items. Most laser toners are near $10 each.
Special Events: Hosting fundraising event at a central location with sufficient publicity to attract large crowds. Usually centered around a central theme such as an outdoor activity, a family night, an auction, a celebrity guest speaker, Vegas night, and many others.
Music: A Catalog sale of compilation CD’s featuring artists’ package, Christmas music, music for small children, and other types. Good seller at just about any time of year, but strongest near the holidays due to gift giving. Can be an immediate sale as well with a special collection.
Magazines: Catalog sale of subscriptions to national magazines. Wide appeal and substantial revenues. Several hundred magazines available through subscription wholesalers. Watch and make sure that prices aren’t too much higher than what your supporters could get directly from the magazine themselves.

Website Shopping top

Fasttrack Fundraising
Easy Fundraising Ideas-Online Marketplace aka Raddatz Marketing
Schoolpop, Inc.
Mr. Z’s Fund Raising Corp. aka Raddatz Marketing
Funding Factory
51 Fun Graphics
eFund Drive
Cherrydale Farms
Century Resources, Inc.
American Publishers, Inc.
America’s Premier Fundraisers
Fasttrack Funding
Affiliate Marketing
Goobert- training for affiliate marketing
Commission Junction
All Affiliate Programs

Rebates – from Referral Shopping top


Easy Fundraising Ideas
Schoolpop, Inc.
Mr. Z’s Fund Raising Corp. aka Raddatz Marketing
Funding Factory
51 Fun Graphics
Century Resources, Inc.
Boston’s Best Coffee Roasters
America’s Fund Raisers, Inc.
American Trends Corporation, dba Amtrec, Inc.
American Publishers, Inc.
Alternative Fundraising, Inc.

Raffles top

Thomas Fund Raising
G&P Distributors
Crossman’s James River Supply, Inc.
Charity Mania


Athlet-A-Thon top



Wrapping Paper top

Flynn Fundraising
Current USA, Inc.
Cherrydale Farms
Anderson’s Party Time Fundraising
America’s Fund Raisers, Inc.
Worthington Industries
Uncle Jerry’s Tees
Top Ten Fund Raisers, Inc.
Tom Wat, Inc.
Superior Fundraising, Inc.
Spirit of America Fundraising
Schairbaum Enterprises
Sally Foster, aka Cendant Corporation
Ready Fund Raising Company
Mr. Z’s Fund Raising Corp.
Midland Fund Raising
Kathryn Beich, Inc.
Just Fundraising
Helen Grace Chocolates
Great American Opportunities Inc
FundraisingDirect, aka Imprints Plus, Inc.
Fundraising Depot
Flynn Fundraising
Current USA, Inc.

Golf top

Champion Golf Events, Inc.

Discount Cards top

Fasttrack Fundraising
Easy Fundraising Ideas
Youth Quest Fund Raising
Win Win Discount Cards, aka Annah Marketing Group
Varsity Gold, Inc.
RonDino Promotions, Inc.
Rewards Unlimited
Result $
Partners for Kids
Millenium Group, Ltd.
Just Fundraising
J & M Distributing
Horizon Sales, Inc.
Greentop Fundraising
Great American Opportunities Inc
Excel Publishing, dba Diamond Discount Card
Evangel Assembly of God, dba The Discount
Educational Marketing, Inc.
Dominos Pizza
Cash Savings Card, aka CornerStone Publishing
Calloway Fundraising
America’s Fundraising Network

Discount Card- Single Merchant top

Easy Fundraising Ideas
Fasttrack Fundraising
Youth Quest Fund Raising
Win Win Discount Cards, aka Annah Marketing Group
Varsity Gold, Inc.
Smith Fundraising
Rewards Unlimited
Resource Solutions
Raise Some
Horizon Sales, Inc.
Evangel Assembly of God, dba The Discount
Educational Marketing, Inc.
Dominos Pizza
Ascent Fundraising

Discount Card – Brief Duration top

Easy Fundraising Ideas
Fasttrack Fundraising
Great American Opportunities Inc
Educational Activities
Additional Funding, Inc.

Car Raffle top

Car Raffle
Dave’s Imports

Auctions top

America’s Fund Raisers, Inc.

Engravings-Stone/Pickets top

Profit Resources
Memories On A Bottle
Impressions In Stone
Amazing Pavers


Easy Fundraising Ideas
Spirit Fundraising, Inc
Cedar Creek Fundraising
Anderson’s Party Time Fundraising
Online Shopping- Sponsored Site
The Uptown Shop
Schoolpop, Inc.
Mr. Z’s Fund Raising Corp. aka Raddatz Marketing
Funding Factory
51 Fun Graphics
eFund Drive
Current USA, Inc.
Cherrydale Farms
Century Resources, Inc.
Boston’s Best Coffee Roasters
America’s Fund Raisers, Inc.
American Trends Corporation, dba Amtrec, Inc.
American Publishers, Inc.
America’s Premier Fundraisers


The Uptown Shop
Superior Fundraising, Inc.
Soundtastic, Inc
Music Rewards Fundraising, aka GAO Inc.
GBI Marketing
Believe Productions
Bake & Co.
American Publishers, Inc.

Catalog Salestop

Fasttrack Fundraising
Funding Factory
Easy Fundraising Ideas aka Raddatz Marketing
Uncle Jerry’s Tees
Tri-Star Promotions
Tracy Hamilton Inc.
Third Wave Fundraising
Sally Foster, aka Cendant Corporation
Resource Solutions
Profit Specialties
Profit Plus Inc.
Great American Opportunities Inc
Great American Fundraising
GBI Marketing
FundraisingDirect, aka Imprints Plus, Inc. aka Raddatz Marketing
Fundraising Depot
Fund To Learn
Funding Factory
Flynn Fundraising
Figurines & Things
eRaiseIt, Inc.
eFund Drive
Doornbosch Brothers
DMI Fundraising
Current USA, Inc.
Creative Fundraising
Concerned Crafts Fundraising
Common Threads
Cherrydale Farms
Century Resources, Inc.
Cedar Creek Fundraising
Bob Moody, Fundraising Consultant
Bake & Co.
Anderson’s Party Time Fundraising
America’s Premier Fundraisers

Book Fairtop

Troll Book Clubs
The Book Fair aka Raddatz Marketing


Toner Cartridgestop

Funding Factory
Five Star Fundraising
Cedar Creek Fundraising
Cartridges For Kids

Special Eventstop

Easy Fundraising Ideas
Wesleyan Thespians
Lulu Redshoes
Christopher Alan Productions, aka CAP Follies
Clean Comedians
Charity Mania
Champion Golf Events, Inc.
Bed Race USA
America’s Fund Raisers, Inc.


The Uptown Shop
Superior Fundraising, Inc.
Soundtastic, Inc
Music Rewards Fundraising, aka GAO Inc.
Fundraising Depot
Believe Productions
American Publishers, Inc.

Easy Fundraising Ideas
Fasttrack Fundraising
WowFundraising Company
Top Ten Fund Raisers, Inc.
Superior Fundraising, Inc.
Mr. Z’s Fund Raising Corp.
FundraisingDirect, aka Imprints Plus, Inc.
Fundraising Depot
Five Star Fundraising
eFund Drive
Creative Fundraising
American Publishers, Inc.

Back to top

Fundraiser Ratings



Supplier: American Publishers, Inc.

Phone: (800) 220-1247, Ext. 3




Supplier: Creative Fundraising

Phone: (800) 513-1920




Supplier: Earthsavers Fundraising

Phone: (336) 275-9282




Phone: (215) 654-1405

Fax: (123) 123-1234




Supplier: eFundraising

Phone: (800) 561-8388

Fax: (877) 275-8664



Supplier: Five Star Fundraising

Phone: (877) 699-7807

Fax: (315) 699-7807



Supplier: Fundraising Depot

Phone: (800) 327-0322

Fax: (813) 962-0901




Supplier: FundraisingDirect, aka Imprints Plus, Inc.

Phone: (800) 238-7916 or (302) 366-8992

Fax: (302) 366-8995


Email: Unknown


Supplier: Mr. Z’s Fund Raising Corp.

Phone: (414) 827-9771

Fax: (414) 827-9773


Email: Unknown


Supplier: Read and Lead Fundraising Program

Phone: (415) 267-7675

Fax: (212) 629-9305



Supplier: St Louis Peco Flake Candy Co.

Phone: (877) 263-9661

Fax: (314) 726 5090


Email: Unknown


Supplier: Superior Fundraising, Inc.

Phone: (800) 526-1740

Fax: (516) 889-5054



Supplier: Top Ten Fund Raisers, Inc.

Phone: (800) 444-6815

Fax: (972) 276-0400



Supplier: WowFundraising Company

Phone: (888) 203-7168

Fax: (219) 497-7998



5 Tips to Build the Ideal Playground and Recreational Amenities for Your Apartment Community

Girl riding on Grandmother's BackWell-designed playgrounds and recreational areas in apartment and condominium communities add beauty to the grounds and create a more attractive environment for potential residents. Making use of the natural environment and incorporating features geared towards the largest demographic groups can help your top-notch community stand out amongst the competition.

Here are 5 tips to build the ideal playground and recreation amenities for your apartment.

1. Assess the play and recreational needs of the community.

Determine who will be using the recreational areas. Is the community family-focused, located near a college campus, or built for the needs of retirees? How many units does the community have?

For example, family-oriented communities should feature playgrounds and places for children to be active. Athletic facilities, such as basketball courts and outdoor fitness centers, will draw much wanted interest. Communities for retirees would best benefit from walking trails, outdoor fitness stations, and social gathering spaces, like a pavilion with seating and tables. If the community allows pets, designated dog-walking areas and off-leash areas are big a benefit to draw prospective residents.

2. List the community’s needs.

List the most important needs for your community. Whether the community is large or small, having a list of needs is key to ensure the most important features are included in the construction plan. A sample list of playground equipment and amenities is listed below to help guide the list-making process.

Family-Focused Community Sample List
1. Age-appropriate playground equipment and safety surfacing
2. Walking and biking paths
3. Spray ground for zero-depth water play
4. Dog-walking and off-leash areas
5. Athletic areas
6. Picnic pavilions and shaded outdoor seating areas

Retiree Community Sample List
1. Outdoor fitness zones
2. Walking and jogging trails
3. Social gathering areas with pavilions and seating
4. Shaded seating around the pool
5. Dog-walking and off-leash areas

Most importantly, create a marketing plan for the new playground and recreational area. Work with local media outlets and update the community’s website to make sure the public knows about the exciting opportunities to play, exercise and socialize in the community.

3. Create your construction plan.

A well-defined plan for playground and recreational areas is key to aquiring the funding needed and ensuring the completion of the project. Working with your local park and playground consultant is the best way to make sure the plan meets safety and accessibility guidelines as well as meets the needs of the community. A knowledgeable, experienced consultant can help create an overall design the flows with natural features of the area, such as trees and hills, and match the aesthetic influence of the community by incorporating coordinating colors and interesting focal lines into the design.

4. Building the community’s playground and recreational areas.

Most playground companies work with certified installers and contractors who are experienced with building playgrounds, outdoor fitness stations, pavilions, dog parks and spray grounds. If the community is already working with a contractor, the playground company can provide detailed construction drawings and even a construction supervisor to aid in the building process.

5. Watch the community play!

Launch your marketing plan to tell the public about the newly-built playground and recreational areas. Invite prospective residents to visit and see the new features that makes your community a place to truly call home. Providing a wealth of comforts and activities for your community creates an inviting and attractive environment for prospective residents. By utilizing these simple tips, you can build a welcoming atmosphere for your community.

Building Church Playgrounds for Congregation & Community

Church PlaygroundsBuilding a church playground has many benefits. It offers a sense of stability for its members by investing in a fun, safe place for children to play. Church playgrounds offer a visible location for children to gather before and after services and keeps them away from parking areas or roadways. An attractive play space draws families looking for a new church home and offers an opportunity to reach out to others through church-led events that reach out to the community.

Use of the play space should be the first consideration when planning for a church playground. Will the playground be used before and after services or as a part of church day care or school programs? This is key in determining how many children and what age groups will be using the playground. Refer to our Playground Planning Guide for additional details.

Church Playground EquipmentLocation, location, location! The playground should be positioned on the church grounds so it makes the most impact. A visible playground invites families to visit the church and encourages the community to participate in outreach activities. Making use of natural elements on the property (such as trees or boulders) can make the play space even more appealing. The church playground equipment itself can be themed or brightly colored to create a whimsical play space or incorporate interesting lines and colors that match the architecture of the church building. If the church is located in a downtown area or historical district, check the local building codes to make sure there are no restrictions regarding height of equipment, bright colors, shade structures, etc.

The best way to begin planning for playground equipment is start from the ground up. Check for adequate drainage, so that the new playground does not become a bog after heavy rain. Gather information on the different types of safety surfacing and choose which one is best for the play space. Remember, some types of surfacing, such a poured in place rubber, require sub-bases that increase cost. Loose fill surfacing can be installed over a layer of geo textile cloth to prevent weed growth at a lower rate than solid playground surfacing, but a containment system will be needed to keep the surfacing within the borders of the play space.

Select equipment and activities to create a balanced play environment. Transitional areas between buildings and play zones allow children to decide how and where they want to play. Zones for creative and imaginative play, social and dramatic play, physical play, and interaction with natural elements are key to a well-rounded environment. A balanced play environment encourages children to engage in active play and healthy social interaction on the playground. Examples of playground components include:

  • Merry Go Round (merry-go-round)- Most available in stand-up dozen w/up to 3-4 children
  • Seesaw (See-saw)– Either spring-mounted, or fulcrum based with soft impact cushion underneath
  • Monkey Bars (overhead ladder)– If kids under 5 years of age, must be <60″ tall w/access ladders, otherwise <84″ tall w/ladder over 5-years of age
  • Playstructure– Composite playsystem with multiple modular climbing, sliding, interactive components
  • Swingsets (multi-bay, multi-access swings)- Infant seats, Belt seats, or Tire Swings

Will the playground be a community build project (built by church volunteers) or built by certified playground installers? A community build is a great way to reduce the overall cost of a playground project. Organize a weekend for volunteers to pitch to build the new equipment. Few playgrounds are built in one day, so allow a few days to complete construction. Also, volunteers need to supply tools, heavy equipment (such as an auger), concrete, ladders, wheelbarrows and other items depending on the equipment being built. Other volunteers can provide beverages, snacks and childcare during the community build. Follow up with the volunteers regularly prior to the build to date to ensure everyone arrives with the necessary supplies on the big day. Having a playground installed by a certified installer takes away the worry of ensuring the equipment installed to meet safety standards and manufacturer’s specifications. A certified installer can stream-line the installation process, taking stress off of the project leader and completing the project (in some cases) in less time than a community build. Refer to the Community Build Guide

Now that the new playground is completed, invite church members and the community to come outside and play!

Playground Planning: The Definitive Guide to Planning a Commercial Playground for Your Church, School, Daycare, Neighborhood, or Public Park

playground equipment postingWhether it’s a church playground, school playground, daycare, or a neighborhood public park, each outdoor playground requires significant planning to maximize your funds.  Playground planning should recognize that each playground experience is unique to each child, and each commercial playground is unique in its site features, layout, design components, and visual appeal.  Also See 14 Layout Considerations for Your Playground.  The cycle consists of the following:

Community: Playground Planning: top

Needs Assessment:

Take inventory of the following areas to properly address the needs of the community that will be using the playground. See also:

  • Number of children accessing
  • Age groups and their distribution: usually split into three categories, 2-5, 2-12, and 5-12 years of age.
  • Special needs-must include accessible route to playground area and equipment must meet ADAAG (accessibility guidelines for public playgrounds). Also See The Sensory Rich Playground is For Children of All Abilities.

Site Plan

Exact dimensions and shape of playground area- Use 8 Playground Planning Tips below for reference.

Utilities- water, sewer, drainage, cable, phone, electric, sprinklers, etc.

Other site features- visibility, security, fencing, space, landscaping.  Also, 8 Playground Planning Tips

Playground Design

Inventory of existing equipment- will it be a. removed, b. retrofitted (updated to current ASTM F1487 or CPSC Standards for Public Playgrounds-10 Safety Items to address on playground), c. added to if compliant?

14 Layout Considerations for Your Playground

Playground Equipment and Park Equipment Catalogs you Can Download immediately



Playground Equipment Budget:

Considering the costs of funding a playground are similar to any capital project, you’ll want to take into account the following items that will affect your budget. KorKat representatives can offer, for free, the following design options as part of your package.

  1. After needs assessment, we design a playground plan that meets your criteria to to be used as your fundraising goal
  2. Provide us a fixed budget and we’ll design your playground to fit

Budget- How much will this playground cost- Playground Planning? top

The playground itself can be broken down into the following elements for budgeting:

  1. Playground Equipment & surfacing
  2. Installation
  3. Site Preparation

Critical Article: How to Save Thousands When Building Your Playground

Critical Article: 7 Zones to Your Playground- Creating Balance In Your Playground Design

1. Playground EquipmentHow to Compare Your Playground Designs and Proposals

  • Age-appropriate playstructures or playsystems.  Standards are for children ages 2-5, 2-12, and 5-12. Must include signage to indicate age range of design.
  • Independent Playground Components- Spring Riders, Spinners/Motion-oriented equipment, Swings, Freestanding Slides/Climbers, Fitness Equipment
    Types Ages
    Swings 2-12
    Springriders/Rockers 2-5
    Climbing Webs 5-12, 2-5
    Spinners/ Motion-oriented Equipment 5-12
    Active Play 5-12
    Fitness Equipment 5-12
    Trike Tracks and Tot Houses 2-5
    Freestanding Slides 2-12
    Bubble Wall Climberpic 1, pic 2 2-12
    Triple Toss, Tetherball, Soccer goals, Basketball Goals 2-12
  • Accessible Playground Surfacing: Each public playground requires both an accessible route to the playground area and a certified playground equipment surfacing.
    Type: Cost: (average size 2000 sf)
    Poured-in-place Rubber EPDM Surfacing $10-14/sf- $20k-$28k
    Bonded Rubber Surfacing $7-10/sf- $14k-$20k
    Rubber Nuggets $7-11/sf- $14k-$22k
    Rubber Tiles $10-12/sf- $20k-$24k
    Synthetic Grass/Artificial Turf $8-12/sf-$16k-$24k
    EWF (Engineered Wood Fiber) $1.5-3/sf- $3k-$6k
  • Site Furnishings- picnic tables, benches, trashcans
  • Shade Structures , Commercial Umbrellas and Picnic Pavilions/Gazebos- Freestanding shade structures and wood or steel picnic areas

2. Playground Installation: Ranging from 25-45% of the equipment price, this is usually the second largest line-item in your budget, assuming the site is ready. See bottom of page for playground equipment installation options


3. Playground Site preparation: The following items can substantially affect the cost of the playground project:

  • Grading
  • Excavation
  • Irrigation
  • Underground Utility
  • Drainage

Funding your Playground: Playground Planning top

Budgeting for a playground is usually coming from capital funds which means they are limited, as is the timeframe to meet these goals.  Make sure to visit both the playground fundraising resources page and playground equipment grant pages for additional funding sources.  Consider reaching out to the community for the following items:

Playground Equipment Installation Options: Playground Planning top

Back to Playground Installation

Installing a public playground on your own is a legitimate option and next to sales items and donated resources can provide the largest savings for your budget:

3 options to consider:

  1. KorKat, Inc. installation– NPSI Certified, Factory-certified installation by KorKat, Inc. to provide a complete installation of all playground eqipment and park equipment
  2. Supervised Installation with a NPSI certified, factory-certified representative of KorKat, Inc. paid for on a per-diem basis.
  3. Community-built, DIY, Self-installation with factory-certified representative– Includes audit of equipment post—installation

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your hard work pays off well into the future.  Two items will need to be addressed:

Don’t forget, if you are in Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Hawaii, Alabama, Tennessee, or Florida and looking for assistance with playground planning , we can offer 10 reasons to choose KorKat, Inc. Visit us at

5 Ways to Save Thousands When Buying Your Playground Equipment

Stretching your playground equipment budget:

Commercial Playground Equipment Blue over Rubber Playground Surfacing_620x350Buying playground equipment requires a wealth of resources including funds and manpower.  With some commitment from your local community, you can save thousands with these tips. Here’s how your playground equipment budget will normally be allocated by percentage with a typical turn-key project:

Description Percentage
Equipment 60%
Installation 28%
Playground Borders 7%
Mulch/In-fill 10%
Taxes/Shipping 5%
Total 100%
  1. Playground Grants– See our playground equipment grants page listed above.
  2. Playground Equipment Sales– Make sure that you’re able to take advantage of any of several substantial sales taking place throughout the year.  Discounts range from 20%-30% & may include free items!!
  3. Build it yourself (Community Build)-The next largest portion of your budget is installation.  We can provide the option to supervise your project if you have a committed group of volunteers willing to donate their weekend, tools, & their sweat (only consider for projects >$14000)
  4. Self-install– Playland offers detailed instructions intended for the layman with no experience installing playground equipment.  Our industry partners choose Playland for their explicit instructions and ease of installation.
  5. Lease Option– Installment payment options are available for those with cashflow variances.  This is a suitable alternative to Phased-in projects.
  6. DIY mulch/in-fill & borders– We’ll let you know how much mulch is necessary to meet today’s safety standards so you can shop your local providers.  Borders are largely just a containment for your in-fill and there are several options that can be purchased locally including: wood, conduit, rubber, playground timbers.

If you are located in Georgia/Alabama/Tennessee/North CarolinaFlorida or Kentucky and would like additional planning for playground budget, please contact us at

How To Compare Playground Designs

Comparing your playground designs

Be sure your playground incorporates as many play experiences as possible.  Remember, it isn’t always the number of play events that are on a play structure that make it a good value, but the value of the play itself.

Comparing your playground equipmentAs an example, let’s compare Playground A vs.  Playground B

Playground A contains a 2 each  3′ tall slides;  3s each 3′ foot climbers;   Arched Bridge; 4 foot slide and 2 activity panels for a total of 9 activities. Playground B has a 72″  slide, 7″ Arch Climber, 48″ Triple Rail Slide, 48″ Tree Climber, 42″ Sliding Pole, 42″ Straight Slide, 90 degree monkey bars, and a motion-orieinted Syclone Spinner accessible from the ground.  Although B also has 9 activities, it costs $1000 less, and offers the better value for kids between the ages of 5-12 years of age.  Why? Children have slides and climbers at three different deck heights on Playground B.  It also has motion incorporated; and imaginative play that accompanies the unique play experiences of the arch climbers and Syclone Spinerl.  Although Playground A has more capacity and room for activities,  the lower level climbers and slides don’t challenge kids and continue to want to return.  Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page on the top right tab, for products and resources to help you with your playground fundraiser.  If you are located in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, or Kentucky and would like assistance in designing your playground in addition to stretching your existing playground budget, please contact us at

Playground A
Playground B
Slides 2 @ 3′; 1 @ 4′ tube’ deck heights 3 total, 72″, 48″, 42″
Climbers Bedrock, rung ladder, arch 90 degree, tree climber, arch, sliding pole
Panels Store Front, Driving Panel Panel Ladder
Bridge Arch Bridge
Notes 3 slides 48″ or lower Active Series Syclone Spinner
Age Group 5-12 yrs
5-12 yrs
Total Components 9 9
Price $13,808 $12,776

Playground Planning: Include These “7 Zones” To Create a Balanced Playground Environment

Before choosing the actual layout for your playground, it’s helpful to have an overall plan or design for the placement of furnishings.  You will want to organize the space in a way that will promote physical and social play while minimizing conflicts.  The following is called the zoned approach and was outlined in Esbenson in his book “The Early Childhood Playground: An Outdoor Classroom”. Similar to the way a classroom is arranged  into specific areas or centers, small groupings of functionally separate outdoor play areas called zones can enrich children’s interaction with the equipment, nature, adults, and one another.  Instead of having one large, central structure that attempts to provide a variety of experiences and activities for children, each zone includes several smaller, related activities and pieces of equipment. This allows more active play areas to be separated from areas that involve less noisy creative of manipulative activities and can help minimize the tendency for louder, bigger boys to dominate a play structure.
Esbenson outlines seven distinct zones:

1. Transition zone: The area between your building and the playground or between different play zones.  This area allows children time  and space to decide where they want to go as they enter the playground.  This can include open space, or seating areas. Items to consider: picnic tables and benches, Shade Structures, Picnic Shelters, Bleachers.

2. Manipulative/Creative Zone: Although a place for large-motor activities, fine-motor activities can also be promoted outside.  The zone can include a table, ease with paints, or panels with manipulatives.Items to consider: Playground Equipment, Fitness Equipment, Surfacing Materials

3. Projective/Fantasy Zone: This area is filled with materials to fuel children’s imaginations: crates of plastic animals, loose parts, stacks of blocks, and buckets of toy bulldozers.  Locate water and sand nearby. Items to consider: Early Childhood Playground Equipment,

4. Focal/Social Zone: Although an action-oriented space, this area fosters a sense of community, a place where children can sit and talk with their peers, share a discovery or simply observe.  Picnic tables, benches, shaded area, or large stones. Items to consider: Playground Equipment, Shade Structures, Picnic Shelters, Boulders, Freestanding Climbers

5. Social/dramatic Zone: Dramatic play offers a safe arena to try out new roles.  A playhouse with sensory panels, play car, play fort, trike track with stations and signs, can stimulate all kinds of language and social play.  Add some props from in-doors too, e.g. costumes, etc. Items to consider: Early Childhood Playground Equipment,

6. Physical Zone: This area includes activities that can’t be included indoors.  Children can develop climbing skills, strengthen their muscles, and improve balance and coordination.  The equipment in this zone should allow for many different uses and stimulate the imagination as well as encourage physical activity.   Plan open areas, as some of the best physical activity – running, walking, jumping, rolling–requires no equipment. equipment such as a toss-up goal, stenciled areas, and trike tracks are important elements.  The equipment must be age-appropriate and scaled to the developmental abilities of the children using it.  The structures are so high that children need assistance, or so low that they misbehave and abuse it, accidents  both minor and sever are sure to occur. Playground Equipment, Fitness Equipment, Surfacing Materials, Trike Tracks.

7. Natural element zones: Sand, grass, nontoxic plants, flowers, and trees are an important part of children’s outdoor exploration, and certainly your entire outdoor space should contain a variety of natural elements. Items to consider: Nontoxic Plants Table.

The following was adapted from Tracy Theemes’ “Let’s Go Outside! Designing the Early Childhood Playground”

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page on the top right tab, for products and resources to help you with your playground fundraiser.  If you are located in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and would like assistance in planning and designing an early childhood playground, please contact us at

Playground Equipment and Autism- The Sensory Rich Playground for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Young children learn by using all of their senses, so your playground should offer as many experiences as possible. For kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, this need for balance can be extreme. The more sensory experiences, the more is learned and gained during development.  The playground should include the following sensory areas:


girl_playingColor and Varying Elevations: Adults tend to look at the functional aspect of playgrounds that includes the natural coloration and a traditional theme.  Ofttimes, the natural looking playground is aesthetic for the adult rather than the child.  It’s rare that the typical child-oriented environment consists of typical natural coloration, i.e. beige, green, brown.  More likely, a playground with a variety of shapes, colors, and forms will offer the most stimulation and improve spatial perception.

The vestibular system consists of small, liquid-filled tubes in the inner ear and is important in maintaining a child’s sense of balance.  The movement of liquid through these canals produces stimulation of the nervous system. Sensory experiences change every time the head moves in a different direction or at a different speed; this explains children’s great enjoyment of whirling, spinning, swing, or being tossed in the air.   During the first years, children’s vestibular systems are very receptive to even small amount s of stimulation, and slight variations in speed and direction have a substantial effect on balance.  The vestibular system works with the senses of touch and vision as well as sensations from the joints and muscles to help children orient themselves in space.  When children go down a slide, for example, they both feel and see themselves moving downward through space.  by about the age of 8, the sensory-motor development of children is well established.

Tire Swing Tire Swing- the most popular component for any sensory gym.  The tire swing allows multiple planes of movement, rocking/swaying, spinning, rotary spinning
 Dynamo Biggo Flyer- Dynamo Web Climber– Alternative to traditional climbers. Allows multiple children.
 axis spinner Axis Spinner  Xccent Play.  By using core muscles, kids can propel themselves or can be pushed w/supervision-
 xwave X-wave Rider-

This involves the entire surface do f the body as children experience changes in texture and temperature through their sense of touch.  in the outdoor setting, nature alone provide s children with a  great variety of interesting texture to explore.  building snow sculptures, digging in dirt, rolling in grass, and tending a garden provide excellent opportunities for children to gain an appreciation of the natural world thorough their sense of touch.  Weather conditions also provide natural tactile sensations as children feel the rush of the wind, the warmth of ht sun, or the nip of the cold on their skin.  you can extend and enrich children’s tactile explorations by providing water, sand and other sensory materials.

 ella sand and water table  Sand/Water Play- Ideal with moon sand or sculpting sand, these sand tables include lids to keep unwanted guests out.

The kinesthetic sense detects body position, weight, and movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints.  This sense influences children’s eye-hand and eye-foot coordination. Children develop spatial awareness by using their bodies to experiment withe the relationship of self to the environment.  you can give children opportunities to do this by providing equipment and materials for them to climb on, crawl under, jump over, and hang from. children also like to hid in small spaces, crouch in corners, and squeeze backwards through holes as they experiment with moving their bodies in many different ways.

monarch clear climbing wall Lateral Movement- Climbing Wall– Bubble Wall climber by Playland International.
 climb and discover cave  Lateral Movement- Discovery Climbing Tunnel- gives kids ability to climb over, under. Includes cozy space to get away for some “low-stim”
 tube slide  Linear Movement- sliding experiences are aplenty on playgrounds w/closed tunnels (tube slides) available up to a 14′ height, and open slides usually up to 8′ height.
 axis spinner  Radial Movement- spinning w/supervision.  The Axis Spinner by Xccent Play gives kids with lower core strength the opportunity to spin outside the classroom. 
 geodesic climber  Hanging- joint compression- The Space Pod (geodesic climber) by Playland International gives multiple kids unlimited climbing or hanging experiences.
push pull components Push/Pull- Snugplay Systems,  gives multiple school age kids the ability to use core muscles and joint compression by lifting and building components
 Net climber- mini  Elevation– Climbing webs are available for many heights and age-groups.  Although they require hire level motor pl


Auditory: top
The outdoor setting provides an array of sounds if only we take the time to listen, help children focus on and identify the different sounds around, such as children shouting, birds chirping, leaves crunching, dogs barking, and street sounds around them.  Children’s auditory experience is enhanced as they hear and listen for new sounds in the outdoors.  Children should be encouraged to use their outside voices to sing, shout, and make whatever noises they wish.

Freestanding Music Elements
 Music Stations
Music Chimes and Tubes


Adapted from Tracy Theemes’ “Let’s Go Outside! Designing the Early Childhood Playground”

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page on the top right tab, for products and resources to help you with your playground fundraiser. If you are located in the Southeast and would like ideas for creating playground designs for children with autism spectrum disorder, or other special needs, please contact us at

14 Layout Solutions for your Playground Design

Bonded Rubber Playground Surfacing1. Organize zones to facilitate play and minimize conflicts, e.g. locate quiet play areas away from active spaces

2. Provide areas that encourage group interaction as well as places from solitary and partner play

3. Avoid putting high-activity zones close to transitional zones

4. Locate compatible play zones close together, e.g. creative play and social play can be placed adjacent

5. Design all play zones for child-initiated activity

6. Locate play areas for toddler and areas involving quiet, creative activities near the entry to building

7. Use low, natural partitions and different surfacing materials to define zones, i.e. EWF hardwood fibers around swings, and pour-in-place rubber surfacing around the playsystem

8. Use space wisely, leaving some areas open. Cluttered playground detracts from children’s explorations and cause injuries

9. Plan zones to take advantage of any prominent or unusual elements, e.g. physical area around a sloped designed for running

10. Be sure that equipment landscaping do not interfere with visual supervision. Adults must have a clear line-of-sight

11. Retain as many existing trees, shrubs, and other landscaping as possible.

12. Locate equipment away from dumpsters, heavy traffic and loud noises. Plant trees or build fences and visual barriers to block nuisances.

13. Make sure site is accessible for maintenance and emergency equipment

14. Use your imagination. Paint stones, create a mural, make hand prints in cement. Cue children through the color, shape and type of materials that this is their place to play.

The following was adapted from Tracy Theemes’ “Let’s Go Outside! Designing the Early Childhood Playground”

If you’re looking for a fundraising partner or program, don’t forget to review the Fundraising Resources pages on the top right tab.  If you are located in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, or North Carolina and would like assistance with designing your playground,  please contact us at

8 Important Planning Considerations for your Playground Design

Good playground design involves balancing your children’s needs, volume, age distribution, developmental aspects, and site conditions. Assess your present space by drawing a rough diagram. Include the seasonal aspects of your layout including sunlight, wind direction, snow/ice/rain. Observe the following:

  • type and amount of natural materials
  • small vs. large space
  • topographical features, e.g. steep slopes, trees, rocks
  • shared spaces with other age groups
  • shaded area–either hard shelter or shade structure

You’ll need assess the following site conditions:

1. Measure your site and scale to your drawing. Triangulate your area be placing flags that will act as your measuring points, e.g. pt A, pt B, pt C. You’ll then be able to take effective measurements as triangles. Once you have all sides to a triangle, e.g. A to B to C, you’ll be able to calculate your area. The site can be split into rectangles, triangles and circles as you place your flags.

2. Identify all existing elements on the site: paths, trees, shrubs, fencing, buildings, large rocks, drainage, and swales.

3. Identify the plants and trees present and check that are all nontoxic

4. Note any areas affected by the sun, shade, wind, rain, and snow

5. Locate any underground services, such as sewer, water and gas. Any overhead power or phone lines? Any overhanging roof or tree branches?

6. Indicate any natural slopes or valleys

7. Identify any drainage problems

8. Determine if there’s a connection to water for play activities

Operational aspects:

In addition to overall environment, address the folloiwing:

* How will it be financed?

* What are the zoning requirements? What permits are needed?

* Determine the best source for evaluating, and ordering equipment and materials. KorKat can assist with the initial design and specifications for obtaining quotations.

* Consider your installation method–self-install, community build, turn-key installation

* Who will do landscaping and initial site preparation?

The following was adapted from Tracy Theemes’ “Let’s Go Outside! Designing the Early Childhood Playground”

Don’t forget to reference the Fundraising Resources page on the top right tab, for products and resource to help you with your playground fundraiser.  If you are planning a playground in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, or North Carolina and would like additional advice as to making the most of an existing budget, please contact us at