Mobilize and Manage

Whether you want to paint a barn quilt for your own barn or organize a big community project, you have some planning and mobilizing to do. We want to help you get started.

When you finish your project, we hope you will help a neighbouring community. Pay your Paint Forward by sending your left over paint to the next community that is just getting started.   Share your best tips and practices to the barn quilt community over at the facebook page.

An agenda to get started

Barn quilts are all about fun! Make sure you get started on the right foot. An awkward first meeting can set the tone for the entire project. Make sure there are lots of laughs and good food. Gather your key supporters together and plan an inspiring agenda:

  • Strategies to involve the entire community
  • phases and steps
  • Initial fund raising to get started and proposal writing
  • How to find and mobilize volunteers (quilters, painters, story writers, social media, data collection, publicity, event organizing)
  • public relations and community engagement
  • Identify a leadership team with supporting subcommittees.

Bring the entire group together regularly to support and energize. There can be a lot of ‘moving parts’ to these projects so you will need to employ your very best management skills to keep a large diverse team happy and moving forward.

Find a ‘lead applicant’…

…to help with fundraising and financing. A lead applicant has the capacity to:

  1. prepare funding proposals and requests to sponsors
  2. assume responsibility for managing finances (receive funds, distribute payments)
  3. prepare financial reports to funders
  4. write thank you letters to sponsors.

Local Sponsors

Agribusiness, banks, insurance companies, paint companies and hardware stores are obvious local sponsors. Negotiate an exchange of cash or materials for brand promotion. Many trails invite the barn hosts and local businesses along the trail route to ‘Pay to Play’.

Local businesses who sponsor a barn quilt declare they care about their community. In 2017, Tim Prior and his company Brussels Agri Services, challenged Huron County residents to paint 150 barn quilts to honour Canada’s 150 years and to welcome visitors to the 2017 International Plowing Match.

Here is another example from Native Women’s Trail of Tears, Chippewa of the Thames First Nation:

  1. Barn Quilt Hosts – barn owners, property owners donated $250/block for an install on their property
  2. Businesses owners on the trail route paid $800 to have a barn quilt installed on their business
  3. Municipalities, Band Councils (e.g. Arts/Culture,Economic Development Committees, or Public Works Departments)donated $150/block


A project can start anywhere. Quilters themselves can provide the momentum. A beautiful story quilt stitched by the local guild, telling the community’s story, can get a project rolling.

Temiskaming Barn Quilt Trail was inspired by the desire to draw visitors to the 2009 International Plowing Match out to the rural byways. Also in 2009, Wardsville was engaged in a village revitalization effort and barn quilts celebrated their bicentennial.  St. George 4-H Club – the youth – got a project rolling in Brant County.

Mobilizing Volunteers from several communities.

If the painting project looks too big for a group of volunteers, then raise enough money to pay them. Boy Scouts, service groups, community groups – they don’t need another volunteer project but they are looking for an easy fund raiser.

The Longwoods project paid $200 per block and six groups stepped forward to paint 5 blocks each. The paint and gear moved down the highway from one painting station to the next. It was an exercise in logistics, but it was fun and satisfying. That project was able to involve dozens and dozens of volunteers from several communities along a 65 kilometre stretch of heritage highway. (The groups are all waiting, hoping for another project.)

The Quilting Shop.

The local quilt shop entrepreneur might be a project instigator. Or she might be a huge champion. Joan Hilhorst at Sew Creative was intrigued by barn quilts and when she heard about a local project, she showed up to the first meeting. She arranged for Northcott Fabrics to donate all the fabric to the project quilts. She coordinated the creation of three inspirational fabric quilts: Wardsville, Longwoods, and the Trail of Tears Quilts. Then, she helped sustain the project by caring for the quilts and acting as their booking agent.

On-line Project Administration.

On-line tools can be of great assistance to a committee that has delegated various tasks and responsibilities. Google Drive offers shared documents, presentations, and spread sheets for a powerful collaborative effort.  New and better competing products are being introduced all the time.

But, there is a learning curve. There is also a pay-off if committee members can reduce face-to-face meeting time and increase their work time.  Get the younger crow involved to help with the on-line communication and management components.