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City Park Facts 2018: the impact of park partners – nonprofits and volunteers

<This is an excerpt from City Park Facts 2018: the year in parks, focusing on parks non-profits and volunteers and the incredible role they play in our 100 largest U. S. cities. You can download your copy of City Park Facts from www.tpl.org/10minutewalk >

Park partners: nonprofits and volunteers

One way to ease funding pressures on agencies and add more money into the mix is through private and philanthropic dollars. While past editions of City Park Facts reported on a select group of parks conservancies, this year’s report includes a more robust depiction of the role these groups play. We identified more than 160 nonprofits in the 100 largest cities, and collected data to determine just how big a factor these groups are in urban park systems.

For the purpose of this report, nonprofit park organizations are those qualifying under
section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code. These organizations can be citywide advocacy or partnership organizations, or be focused on a specific park or group of parks. These
groups are often called “conservancies” or “friends of” groups. They typically
have a working relationship with one or more public park agencies and contribute
funding, volunteers, and advocacy to their park systems. Outside the larger cities, park
nonprofits are often small, with a staff of one to two people and a host of volunteers
working to support their efforts.

Over the past year, these groups spent roughly $500 million on public parks in the
largest 100 cities, including on programming, capital improvements, maintenance, and
operations. As a result, contributions by these nonprofit partners made up 6.2 percent of
the total spending on parks and recreation in the past year. Furthermore, an additional
$433 million in value was contributed in volunteer time to both public and nonprofit
parks agencies in the past year. With public and nonprofit dollars combined, a total of just over $8 billion was spent on parks in the most recent fiscal year.

Increasingly, more parks agencies—both public and nonprofit—are working with volunteers to provide recreation programs, support efforts in planting, watering and weeding, and even for assistance in constructing capital projects. Over the past year, nearly 1.1 million volunteers contributed 16.9 million hours in work to the park systems of the 100 largest U.S. cities. Put another way, it is like adding another 8,330 full-time positions to these parks and recreation agencies.

Buffalo_NY_01

Buffalo Olmsted Parks, Buffalo, NY

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