Fundraising is something most libraries rely on to pay for special programs like summer reading, and often for basic services. I recently attended the free WebJunction webinar Beyond Book Sales: Practical Ideas for Raising Funds for Your Library, hosted in collaboration with ARSL. Sue Hall presented 12 facts about library fundraising. I’ll highlight a few of them here. For the full list and additional tips, you can view the slides and other resources in the archive.
Effective fundraising is about relationships first, money second. It’s important to build relationships that lay the ground work for later giving. It is an investment of time, but this is where most North Dakota libraries have an advantage – it is easier to build relationships in small towns where you already know a higher percentage of the people in town.
Everything is easier with Friends. This goes along with a later point – A strong fundraising committee or board makes the connections. Many of North Dakota libraries are staffed by only one person, who may not even be full-time, or perhaps a few part-time staff. With so many daily demands on your time, it can be easy to let larger, longer-term projects fall by the wayside. Not everyone has a Friends group to rely on, but everyone has a library board. Recruit them to assist so you don’t have to do it all yourself, even if it’s just finding volunteers for a temporary committee.
You can’t raise money without a strong case for support. When asking for money, think about how you can make a compelling case to potential donors. How will the donation improve or impact the community? How will it expand the library’s capacity to serve the community? Be prepared with both data and stories.
There’s more than one way to raise money. If so far you’ve focused on one major fundraising technique, consider branching out or switching tactics.
- Annual campaigns
- Tributes & memorials
- Major gifts
- Special events
- Planned giving
- Corporate sponsorships
- Grant writing
Fundraise beyond the “usual suspects.” If you routinely rely on the same donors, consider who in town you might be overlooking.
Saying “thank you” really matters. Make sure to thank everyone promptly! If you have your board involved, perhaps they can assist with making personal thank you phone calls.
The archive also has a compilation of successful fundraising ideas shared in the chat box during the webinar. One idea shared was a “non-event.” Be sure to check out those links, as a non-event offers a really good return on investment in term of your time. The presenter even mentioned Minot’s Great Tomato Festival! The State Library also owns the book mentioned in the webinar, Beyond book sales : the complete guide to raising real money for your library, if you would like to request it via interlibrary loan.
If you are working on fundraising, ALA’s United for Libraries has a number of fact sheets on a variety of giving topics that may be useful, particularly if you are considering starting a foundation or a Friends group.
What do you do to raise funds for your library? Share your successes in the comments!