The majority of the nation’s more than 10,000 park and recreation agencies rely on taxpayer support and generated revenue (e.g., registration fees, sponsorships and concessions) as their primary funding sources. Unfortunately, the typical agency does not receive sufficient funding to fully deliver on its mission, and the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession are adding to the financial pressures. As a result, many park and recreation agencies partner with nonprofit park foundations or “friends groups” to ensure every community member has access to high-quality park and recreation programming and facilities.

To better understand what leads to effective and sustainable partnerships between park and recreation agencies and their partners, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) commissioned a study. Led by Dr. Nicholas Pitas at the State University of New York-Brockport, this study focuses on evidence-based best practices that maximize the benefits of these valuable and strategic relationships. By sharing results from this study’s survey and a series of in-depth interviews with leaders of both public agencies and nonprofit foundations, Park and Recreation Agency-Foundation Relationships: Partnering for the Future provides a detailed snapshot of the benefits and challenges that exist between agency-foundation relationships, and why they are important.

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Key Findings

The top five benefits that park and recreation leaders seek from foundations are:

  • Extra fundraising capacity
  • Ability to serve beyond the scope of a traditional park and recreation agency
  • Advocacy for parks and recreation
  • Expertise and skills that complement agency staff
  • Flexibility as foundations are not government agencies

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