A parks foundation is a non-profit organisation that supports a specific park or more likely parks across a wider geographical area such as a city, with time, expertise and privately-raised funds.

A parks foundation is not restricted to one form, but they are likely to have charitable status and a board incorporating involvement from the local community, parks managers and local businesses. They may also vary in size and functions, but ultimately the goal is to bring together fundraising, sponsorship, other income and volunteering to support the parks in remaining free, open and accessible to the wider public.

Operating models vary in different countries. In the US, the National Association of Parks Foundations states that: "An optimally functioning park foundation can counteract public budgeting trends by invoking the power of philanthropy and volunteerism to replace unfunded budgetary items, which reduce the need for higher revenue-producing user fees and the pay-to-play trends happening across public recreation."

In launching the Rethinking Parks programme we are most interested in foundations that span a city, county or otherwise fairly significant geographical area, building on the success of the Bournemouth Parks Foundation in the first programme. However, we’re also open to proposals based on international learning.