After you’ve set a date for your river cleanup event and obtained the required permission and permits, your next step is to figure out the dollars and cents of your river cleanup.
Once you have a well thought out event plan, sit down and create a budget. Remember to include catering, technology and marketing costs. Next, you’ll be ready to identify potential sources of monetary support and in-kind goods and services.
American Rivers’ created this fundraising resource guide to help you raise the support you need to host a successful cleanup event.
Start with your personal network — ask your friends if they know any local businesses that would be willing to donate needed goods, services or money.
Grow your network! The river is a great place to start. Talk to local retailers, outdoor guides, breweries, and riverfront restaurants that may be interested in contributing to your cleanup.
Think big! Regional and national businesses often look to support their communities through cash gifts, in-kind donations or staff volunteering.
Visit the business in person if possible, rather than emailing or calling, and share information about your cleanup. This also provides an opportunity to hang up your cleanup flyer at the business. Follow up by phone or email afterwards.
Be respectful and grateful for any help they can provide. Avoid visiting during busy hours and be ready to leave your contact information if the manager is unable to meet.
Plan ahead! Get your request in as early as possible to avoid missing deadlines.
Thank your sponsors and highlight their support in event materials and during your event. Include them on your flyer and give them a shout-out before, during and after the cleanup.
National, regional and local companies and organizations often have programs for supporting their home communities.
The following is a list of potential river cleanup event supporters with links to their websites for more information.
Please note that American Rivers is not affiliated with and does not endorse any business listed in this guide. The resources are provided for informational purposes only; the list is not comprehensive, and information contained about corporate websites may change.
Bee’s Wrap: The Vermont company supports local initiatives to end plastic waste and offers sponsorships, product donations and monetary donations.
C&S Wholesale Grocers: Accepts cash grant and food/product requests from community groups that are located within 20 miles of where they do business and where most of their employees live.
Captain Planet Foundation EcoSolution Grants: Offers $500-$2,500 in support of youth-led projects that positively impact the environment. Their cycles end in mid-January and mid-July.
Casey’s General Stores: The Midwest restaurant chain supports local organizations through sponsorships, food and monetary donations. Apply online at least 20 business days in advance.
The Cheesecake Factory: The national restaurant chain offers a “Give Back Team Sponsorship” when staff volunteer at fundraising and community service projects. Request gift cards donations at local restaurants at least 30 days in advance.
Costco: Support their local community through cash and in-kind donations. Applications accepted any time.
Extreme Terrain: Offers $250 through their Clean Trail Grant Program to trail or environmental groups working on trail improvement projects.
Fleet Feet: The national running and footwear store offers sponsorships, donations, and advertising. Contact your local Fleet Feet store for information.
H-E-B Grocery: The Texas grocery chain offers monetary donations, volunteers and product donations. Apply at least eight weeks in advance of the cleanup.
Home Depot: Grants are made in the form of The Home Depot gift cards for tools, materials, or services. Requests accepted anytime, and gift cards must be used within six months of award.
Kroger: Provides monetary support, gift cards and product donations through the Foundation to nonprofits that strengthen communities nationwide. Apply at least four weeks in advance.
LL Bean: Supports initiatives through their Outdoor Access Fund to improve public access, outdoor experiences and environmental stewardship. Apply online at least four weeks in advance of the cleanup.
Mazda Foundation: Supports environmental conservation work where they have offices (CA, NJ, IL, TX, FL). Apply between May 1st and July 1st annually.
MOM’s Organic Market: Donates to local organizations in the mid-Atlantic that support environmental protection and restoration. Apply online at least 30 days in advance.
New Seasons Market: The Northwest grocery chain supports initiatives to protect the environment by providing donations and volunteers for cleanups. Apply online at least 30 days in advance.
Raley’s Supermarkets: Offers grants to local groups in California, Nevada and Arizona who support the environment and conservation. Apply online at least 90 days in advance of the cleanup.
Save-A-Lot: Donates to nonprofits who work on environmental conservation, particularly in underserved communities nationwide.
SpartanNash Stores: The Midwest grocery chain supports community groups with sponsorships, product donations and fundraisers. Apply at least 30 days in advance.
Trader Joe’s: The national grocery chain donates to nonprofits working near their stores. Apply in writing to your local manager at least three weeks in advance of the cleanup.
Walmart/Sam’s Club: Awards local community grants ($250-$5,000) during their grant cycle from mid-February to the end of December.
Waste Management: Donates money to environmental and environmental education initiatives nationwide.
Whole Foods: Partner with your local Whole Foods to request a donation for cash or in-kind products. Applications reviewed once per quarter.
HOST A FUNDRAISING EVENT
Choose a fundraising event date and earn a percent of sales from these companies when customers present your flyer at their establishment.
Cava Grille: Accepts requests for in-restaurant fundraisers, in-kind food donations, and gift card donations in partnership with stores located in CA, DC, MD, NJ, NY, and VA. Apply online six weeks prior to the event.
Chipotle: Supports youth and university groups by donating 33% of event proceeds. Apply online at least four weeks in advance of the event.
Panera Bread: Supports local nonprofits by donating 20% of event sales. Apply online at least four weeks in advance of the event.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop: Supports local nonprofits by donating 25% of event sales. Contact your local Potbelly manager to organize an event.
UNO’s Pizzeria: Supports local nonprofits by donating 15% of event sales. Apply online.
DONATED SERVICES AND SUPPLIES
Ace Hardware: Contact your local Ace Hardware franchise to inquire about potential cleanup gear requests.
American Rivers: Donates trash bags to event organizers that register their cleanups at least four weeks in advance of the cleanup date.
Bridgestone Tires 4ward: Offers free tire collection to cleanups. Apply online.
Budget Dumpster: Offers dumpster service donations and discounts to river cleanups.
TerraCycle: The national recycling company offers extensive free drop-off locations and shipping options for hard-to-recycle items.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream: For Vermont clean-ups, provides a bulk tub of ice cream for your event. Outside of Vermont, receive coupons for free pints.
Clif Bar: Provides Clif Bar donations to community events nationwide. Apply online at least 80 days in advance of the cleanup.
Deep River Snacks: Donates bags of chips and event sponsorships to community groups. Apply online at least three months in advance cleanup.
Insomnia Cookies: Donates cookies and gift cards to organizations near their stores. Apply online at least four weeks in advance of the cleanup.
KIND Snacks: Donates snacks to groups that promote kindness in the community. Apply online at least 60 days in advance of the cleanup.
MOD Pizza: Locations across the country. Offers food and coupon donations. Apply online at least two weeks before the event.
Nature’s Path: Donates granola bars and snacks for events. Apply online up to one year prior to the event.
UTZ Snacks: The Pennsylvania-based company donates chip snack bags to local nonprofits. Apply online at least three weeks in advance of the cleanup if you can pick up donations from an UTZ facility.
Your local community is the best place to look for donations. Reach out to the following groups to explore opportunities for financial support, in-kind donations, and volunteers for the event.
- Community Foundations: Contact your local community foundation to see if they have grant opportunities for your cleanup.
- Local Government Agencies: Contact your local public works department, parks and recreation department, or waste removal service for cleanup support (e.g. cleanup supplies, dumpsters, trash hauling, etc.).
- Sports Stadiums and Concert Venues: Ask your local stadiums about fundraising opportunities during their events (e.g. selling snacks, cleanup, etc.).
- Chamber of Commerce: Your local chamber can help guide you to top employers in the area, companies committed to environmental issues, and new companies who are looking to get involved in the community.
- Service organizations such as Rotary and Kiwanis may have grant opportunities and be looking for volunteer opportunities for their members.
Local Banks: Reach out to your local branch manager to explore sponsorship opportunities and recruit employees as volunteers.