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Partnership header Roundtable discussion in a conference room setting
Signs & Notices

All collection devices must be properly signed and should clearly advise the public as to who will receive the donation and how it will be used to support park needs. The sign serves as a general letter of tender. Without it, monies collected must be considered as miscellaneous receipts and not as donations. Miscellaneous receipts must be posted to the General Treasury rather than deposited in a donation account.

Signs that state that the funds will be used for general operation and maintenance of the park allow the most flexibility but may not strongly appeal to donors. You can identify a more specific use, such as the purchase of needed equipment and supplies, funding of an interpretive or resource management project, or a special event. Being specific about an activity which might have particular public appeal will provide the best results. Keep in mind you can feature different projects and park needs over time. One idea is to identify a project alongside the donation box, using photos of needed equipment or sketches and mock-ups of restoration projects. These exhibits show what needs to be done and the progress staff has made with the restoration work.

At Alcatraz Island, in Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the metal collection canister is set into a cell door on the dock where the visitors arrive and depart, with an interpretive panel alongside. The photos show the types of maintenance tasks and restoration projects that are underway. The box averages $1,000 per month in donations. The sign states:

YOUR DONATION IS APPRECIATED. IT WILL BE USED TO FUND MAINTENANCE PROJECTS AND ENHANCE ACTIVITIES ON ALCATRAZ.

At San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the sign in the Maritime Museum states:

DONATIONS TO THE MARITIME MUSEUM ASSOCIATION SUPPORT THE EXHIBIT, RESEARCH, AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS OF THE NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM.

At Fort Matanzas National Monument, the ferry landing the signs reads:

ALL FUNDS CONTRIBUTED WILL BE USED TO DEFRAY THE COST OF PROVIDING THIS FERRY SERVICE.

At San Antonio Missions National Historical Park the sign reads:

DONATIONS WILL BE USED FOR DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATION OF THE SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK.

Remember that a separate donation account is required for all donation boxes that are identified for specific projects, programs, and general operations and maintenance. For example, if you have three donation boxes with two signed for general operations and maintenance and one for exotic plant removal, you will need two separate accounts.

Fifty states donation box at Rocky Mountain National Park Fifty states donation box at Rocky Mountain National Park

Fountains and Donation Boxes

Parks that find coins in fountains often deposit them in donation boxes and account for them as donation box receipts. The use of fountains, pools, and wishing wells has not proven cost effective through the years. The difficulties presented by maintenance, upkeep, coin collection, and redeeming damaged coins has led most parks to discourage visitors from throwing coins in their fountains by posting signs or removing their fountains completely.

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