Finding money for facility upgrades is easier if you plan ahead for them in the operating budget.

One way is to use an "invisible employee," says Mick Nelson of USA Swimming, Colorado Springs, Colo. "Set aside a median salary for a head lifeguard every single pay period and pay it into an escrow account for capital improvements and repair.” 

Or consider creating a “Friends of the Pool” list for donations. “A lot of people and businesses are willing to donate things like life jackets if you ask,” says Alison Osinski of Aquatic Consulting Services, San Diego.

“Donors can be sponsors of pool lanes, leisure equipment or relaxation areas. Other organizations do this—you can be the ‘grandparent’ of a polar bear at the zoo by making a donation.”