Opening your garden for charity

Geoff Stonebanks shares his secrets and tips for opening your garden for charity.

garden vistors
Geoff Stonebanks opens his garden every year to raise money for charity. Image: Geoff Stonebanks
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Regular readers of my blog will know that I was extremely lucky to be able to retire early and took up gardening as a hobby. It soon became apparent that my garden gave much enjoyment to friends and family who saw it. So, I thought, if others enjoy looking at it, maybe people would pay to see it, especially if the money raised went to a good cause.

relaxing in garden
Giving visitors somewhere to sit in your garden and relax is important. Image: Geoff Stonebanks.

So my Driftwood Garden was born and my desire to raise £100,000 evolved. We’ve currently raised £76,000 but I’m not suggesting you should do the same! However, there are a few simple ways you might consider, on a smaller scale, to help raise funds through your favourite hobby and for causes close to your heart this year. There are lots of local charities desperate for means to raise money; there are hospices and larger better-known charities too/ Many have gardens to visit events and programmes or would jump at the chance, if you said you would like to open your garden for them and raise money. Here are a few of my top tips to get your hobby to work for you.

Five ways to raise money from your garden

Garden visitors
Most people don’t mind paying a small entry fee if it is going to charity. Image: Geoff Stonebanks

1 Charge an entry fee. Once you’ve committed to show off your garden, decide on whether you want to ask visitors to donate money as they come in, or my preferred option, set an entrance fee and have family or friends sat at the gate to welcome them in and take their money. All that money can go direct to the charity you’ve chosen. I usually rely on my mother and a friend, not to mention our little Jack Russell, Albert.

cake
Everyone loves a slice of cake! Image: Geoff Stonebanks

2 Feed your visitors. The garden visiting experience can only be enhanced if you serve tea and cakes. I go mad, serve it all on vintage china and bake all my own cakes but if you ask friends I’m sure they would help contribute to your supply for the day and tea tastes just as good out of a mug too. It’s always good to know how much you have spent on ingredients etc. so that you are not out of pocket and then all then proceeds can go to the charity. Set out some seats for them throughout the garden, even if you have to beg steal or borrow a few for the day. You are going to need someone to help you out serving the teas too, as your visitors will want to talk to you about your garden. Maybe sell homemade jams and marmalades that you or others have made too.

3 Sell plants. An easy way to improve your takings for the day is to sell plants, either cuttings you have done yourself, or again, ask friends and family if they want to support you and provide you with plants they have propagated. It’s a very a quick and easy way to raise funds and everyone likes to go away with a memento of a nice garden, what better than a plant?

4 Use the garden as a gallery. If you are really keen, then there are a couple of other steps you can take too. Do you know anyone who makes and sells garden art? If so why not invite them along to display their work in your garden and ask them to donate a percentage of their sales to your charity of the day.

5 Have a raffle. Collect together a package of nice gifts, or ask for donated prizes from local businesses and hold a raffle on the day and again, donate the proceeds to your charity. Get a representative of the charity, your local MP or a local celebrity to come along and do the draw for you.

Trust me, all of these methods have worked very well for me and they have helped me amass over £76000 for charity since 2009. See more of my fundraising work on the charity page of my web site. Good luck!

Geoff Stonebanks

About Geoff Stonebanks

Geoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden - Driftwood - he has raised over £95,000 for various charities in 8 years, £56,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners' World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also the National Garden Scheme's Social Media & Publicity Chair as well as an Assistant County Organiser & Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex.
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