About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

How to set up a Parks Foundation

Public parks play an important role in people’s lives. They are valued for many reasons: as a place to exercise and play sports; as somewhere to take a break from urban life, for unwinding and connecting with nature; and as a social space or a venue for events.

But due to demand placed on local authorities’ budgets to support statutory services such as social care, non-statutory services like parks are facing budget cuts and are in risk of decline. The increasing demand placed on land for housing and development is also a risk factor.

If parks are to remain a vital asset for future generations, free for all to enjoy, we need to develop new ways of running them that tap into the right mix of skills, support and funding that can make them sustainable.

Since 2014, the Rethinking Parks programme has been funding and supporting organisations to develop innovative ways of managing and financing the UK’s public parks. Parks Foundations are independent charities that support parks with time, expertise and funds, and in particular, show potential for tackling this challenge.

This guide explains:

  • What Parks Foundations can do and their advantages compared to other models.
  • The ingredients for a successful Parks Foundation and potential challenges.
  • How to set up a Parks Foundation including key design decisions.
  • You will also find examples and case studies based on the experience of five Parks Foundations based in the UK operating either in public parks or a national park.