Category Archives: Fundraising

Online Book Sales

Looking to upgrade from your normal library book sale? Check out some of these online e-sellers to sell your gently used donations or weeded materials:


Book seller General Info Fees and Commission
  • Insertion fee—Free for up to 50 auction-style listings per month; $0.35 per item or $0.99+ for “buy it now” listings
  • Final (Closing) Fee: 12% (maximum fee $750)


  • Specializes in rare & out-of-print books, partnership with independent booksellers
  • Sellers must maintain an inventory of at least 200 titles at all times
  • Sellers must process orders within 3 business days
  • 12% commission + payment processing fee ($40 max/$0.25 min), no monthly listing fee


  • 8% commission + payment processing fee, flat monthly fee based on the number of books listed (fee is $10/month for 0-10,000 listings). If no orders are placed in a month, seller will receive a rebate of monthly fees that can be used to purchase books on Biblio.
Better World Books


  • Libraries collect and package weeded or donated books to send to Better World Books
  • They sell “sellable” books on 23 different online markets
  • Anything they can’t sell is recycled
  • No contracts or service agreements unless requested
  • No fees or commission from Better World Books
  • Libraries get paid a percentage commission based on sale price of their materials—commission is paid to libraries quarterly (rolls over to next quarter if less than $50.00)
  • Shipping fees are covered by Better World Books upfront.
  • Sellers’ items appear in website product listings along with Amazon’s listing
  • Only items that match an existing listing in Amazon’s product catalog can be sold on Amazon Marketplace.
  • Sellers are notified by email when an item sells & the order is posted to your seller account
  • No subscription fee
  • Referral Fee (Commission)—15% for books, music, video & DVD
  • Variable closing fee: $1.35 per item for books/video; $0.80 per item for music
  • Fixed Fee: $0.99 per item
  • Closing Fee: $1.80




  • Items are listed on Alibris and its partner sites—Barnes & Noble, Amazon, ebay, Half, Books-a-Million, etc.
  • Seller enters an ISBN or UPC, the item’s condition, and selling price; the Alibris catalog system fills in the rest of the listing info
  • Application Fee: $19.99
  • Subscription: $19.99 annual fee plus $1.00/item
  • Commission: 15% commission on each item sold ($0.50 minimum, $60.00 maximum)
    • Commission is 20% or 15% + $0.25 (whichever is greater) if your item sells on one of their affiliate sites
  • Closing Fee: Assessed on the cost of shipping (not assessed if the item is shipped to the Alibris processing center) $1.60 standard shipping


  • Subscription fee: Based on the amount of books listed
    • 0-500 books, subscription fee is $25.00/month (whether you sell anything or not)
  • Commission: 8% on the total item amount for each item sold
  • Payment service fee: If the seller has set up to accept credit card payments through AbeBooks, there is a payment service fee of 5.5% of the total item amount
AbeBooks Book BuyBack Program
  • Can sell just a few things at a time to AbeBooks, rather than setting yourself up as a seller
  • Enter ISBN, title, etc. to match your item to a listing in their catalog; their site will tell you how much they’ll pay you for the item
  • Accept buyback price, add to cart, and choose how you want to be paid
    • Options are by check or to a PayPal account
  • The site generates a shipping label for you to print out—they pay the shipping

Acquiring 501(c)(3) Status

Friends of the Library and Library Foundations are excellent groups to help raise money for your library. In order for these organizations to function optimally and to assist with the procurement of grants, it is encouraged for them to obtain a 501(c)(3) status. This means that they are viewed as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization that qualifies as a public charity under IRS Code, Section 501(c)(3). Please seek the aid of an attorney or CPA to assist in the process of obtaining 501(c)(3) status as laws and common practices are subject to change.

The process to achieve 501(c)(3) status can take over 6 months to complete. The IRS has created a guide outlining the Life Cycle of a Public Charity that can help lead you through this process. In order to achieve 501(c)(3) status, the group must do the following:

  1. Create an organizing document that contains the following provisions. More information and sample documents can be found here.
    • Limit the organization’s purpose to one of the exempt purposes listed in Section 501(c)(3) of the Code.
    • State that the organization cannot engage in activities that don’t advance the exempt purpose.
    • State that the assets of the organization (money, property, etc.), will be dedicated permanently to the exempt purpose listed.
  2. Establish a Board of Directors and create bylaws for the group.
  3. Once the organization is legally established (see page 9 of IRS Publication 4220), obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS online, by mail, or by phone (1-800-829-4933). Applying for an EIN triggers filing requirements, so do not complete this step until you are prepared to move forward with your other forms.
  4. File Articles of Incorporation for the group with the State of North Dakota as per NDCC 10-33. The paperwork can be found here. There is a $40 filing fee that must accompany the completed form. The ND Secretary of State Office and other state agencies created a guide to beginning and maintaining a nonprofit corporation in ND that can be found here.
  5. Submit the IRS Form 1023-EZ or Form 1023 depending on your eligibility. Eligibility can be determined using the worksheet in the 1023-EZ directions. Directions for the forms can be found here (1023-EZ) or here (1023).

**You may be exempt from this requirement if your organization has gross receipts in each taxable year that are normally not more than $5,000. Please see for more details.**

  1. Before the group can solicit contributions, it may need to be registered as a charitable organization through the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office as per NDCC 50-22. That process can be found here.
  2. The organization will need to follow the tax-code for a 501(c)(3) during the time that their application is in processing. See the IRS page “Tax Law Compliance before Exempt Status is Recognized” for more information. All bank accounts, books, and records for the group need to be separate from the library’s records.


Once the group has acquired 501(c)(3) status, they will need to follow all state and federal filing guidelines to maintain that status. This includes the annual filing of Form 990 and other, unrelated income tax filings, state filings, charitable solicitations reporting, donation substantiation reporting, etc. Additionally, records should be kept for things such as executive compensation, transactions with board members, sources of revenue, accomplishments, expense allocations, details of investments, and organization structure. These things help assure that the group will maintain annual compliance. Most records of the 501(c)(3) group will be subject to public disclosure requirements.


Helpful Links:

Grant Writing Resources

Writing grant applications/ proposals can be intimidating. Where does one even start? Thankfully, there are many grant writing resources readily available online. Explore the list below to become a more informed and experienced grant writer.

Great places to start:

America Library Association (ALA):

Tips and Tricks:


According to their website:

GrantSpace is Foundation Center’s learning community for the social sector, providing easy-to-use, self-service tools and resources to help nonprofits worldwide become more viable grant applicants and build strong, sustainable organizations.

Grant writing resources from around the web:

Grants for Libraries

dollar signPenguin Random House Library Awards for Innovation

Application deadline: October 1st

The Penguin Random House Library Awards for Innovation recognize public libraries creating innovative community-based programs which encourage citizens to participate and support local reading initiatives that connect libraries with their community. One $10,000 grant and four runner-up $1,000 grants will be awarded. Award recipients will also receive $1,000 in Penguin Random House books. Learn more and apply at:

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants

Application deadline: September 26th

Each year, the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grants program contributes more than $5 million to fund improvements at public schools in the United States. Projects should fall into one of the following categories: technology upgrades, tools for STEM programs, facility renovations, and safety improvements. Grant requests can range from $2,000 to $100,000, though most will be given in the $2,000 to $5,000 range. Additional details and online application available at:

NTCA Rural Broadband Association’s Foundation for Rural Service Grant Program

Application deadline: October 1st

Communities served by NTCA members can apply for grants that support local efforts to build and sustain a high quality of life in rural America. Grants range from $250 to $5,000. They prioritize projects that foster collaboration among different community agencies and local government, have a long-lasting effect in the community, promote community participation and engagement, and make rural communities a better place to live and work. Find out more and apply here:

Sony Corporation of America Grants

Application deadline: Ongoing

Sony focuses the majority of its charitable giving on arts, culture, technology, and the environment, with a particular emphasis on education in each of those areas. Sony seeks to apply its financial, technological, and human resources to the encouragement of the creative, artistic, technical, and scientific skills required at tomorrow’s workforce. Read their guidelines and discover how to apply at:


Application deadline: Ongoing

Shell supports K-12 programs that boost math and science skills. They are especially interested in supporting educational outreach in math, science, and technology to women and minority students and academic institutions with ethnically diverse enrollments. Priority consideration is given to organizations serving in or near US communities where Shell has a major presence. Eligibility requirements and application forms are accessible on their site:

This article originally appeared in the August, 2016 issue of the State Library’s Flickertale (PDF).

Grants for Libraries

dollar sign

Best Buy Foundation Community Grants

Application deadline: July 1

The Best Buy Foundation is on a mission to provide teens with places and opportunities to develop technology skills that will inspire future education and career choices. They are provide Community Grants to local and regional (within 50 miles of a Best Buy location) nonprofit organizations that provide teens with places and opportunities to develop 21st century technology skills, including: computer programming, digital imaging, music production, robotics, and gaming and mobile app development. The average grant amount is $5,000 and grants will not exceed $10,000. You can review their criteria, take the eligibility quiz, and apply at:

First Book

Application deadline: Ongoing

First Book is a nonprofit providing free and discounted books and educational resources to schools and programs serving children from low-income families. Registration is required to ensure only qualifying organizations participate. Sign up at:

Mazda Foundation

Application deadline: July 1

The Mazda Foundation awards grants to programs promoting education and literacy, environmental conservation, cross-cultural understanding, social welfare, and scientific research. Organizations are required to have a 501(c)(3) designation. Find out more and apply here:

North Dakota Humanities Council Quick Grants

Application deadline: Ongoing

NDHC Quick Grants ($1,500 or less) support direct program costs of humanities projects that bring historical, cultural, or ethical perspectives to bear on issues of interest in our communities. They support events that engage participants in thinking critically, promote better understanding of ourselves and others, are conducted in a spirit of open and informed inquiry, provide multiple viewpoints, and which involve partnerships between community organizations, cultural institutions, and scholars in the humanities. Read their guidelines and apply at:

Kinder Morgan Foundation

Application deadline: 10th of each month

The Kinder Morgan Foundation’s mission is to provide today’s youth with opportunities to learn and grow. Their goal is to help today’s science, math, and music students become the engineers, educators, and musicians who will support diverse communities for many years to come. They fund programs that promote the academic and artistic interests of young people in the cities and towns where Kindred Morgan operates. Grants range between $1,000 and $5,000. Eligibility requirements and application forms are accessible on their site:

This article originally appeared in the May, 2016 issue of the State Library’s Flickertale (PDF).

Grant Resources

image_preview[1]At the NDLA annual conference in Jamestown, the pre-conference workshop was “Grant Writing for Librarians,” hosted by Tammy Sayles of the Pikes Peak Library. For those who weren’t able to attend, I wanted to highlight some resources from Grant Space that Tammy shared. These are free resources you can use to develop your grant writing skills and improve your grant-seeking knowledge.

What’s your most useful tip for finding grants? Share your success stories in the comments!

Grants for Libraries

dollar signBNSF Railway Foundation

Application deadline: Ongoing

The BNSF Railway Foundation has helped improve the quality of life for thousands of communities across the 28 states through which BNSF operates and where BNSF employees live, work, and volunteer. As the corporation’s assets have grown, so has their Foundation’s commitment to giving and supporting communities. Focuses included civic, cultural, educational, and youth organizations. For more information, visit the grants section of their programs page; you can apply for a grant from them here.

 Digital Humanities Startup Grants (NEH)

Application deadline: September 16, 2015

The National Endowment for the Humanities’ Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant program awards grants to support the planning stages of digital projects that promise to benefit the humanities. The program supports both new projects in early stages of development and efforts to reinvigorate existing or dormant projects in innovative ways. Further information is available here.

 Margaret Edwards Collection Development Grant (YALSA)

Application deadline: November 1, 2015

This grant awards $5,000 for a library to use towards improving or expanding the services and programs it provides to help teens master text-based literacies. Funds may be used to provide new or support on-going successful programs. All personal YALSA members who represent a public library or school library are eligible to apply. Up to five grants will be awarded in 2015. Read the criteria and submit your application here.


Application deadline: Ongoing

Shell supports K-12 programs that boost bath and science skills. They are especially interested in supporting educational outreach in math, science, and technology to women and minority students and academic institutions with ethnically diverse enrollments. Priority consideration is given to organizations serving in or near US communities where Shell has a major presence. To learn more or to apply for a grant, visit their Request for a Grant from Shell page.

Wells Fargo

Application deadline: Ongoing

Wells Fargo supports organizations that work to strengthen communities. They look for projects that keep communities strong, diverse, and vibrant. They strive to assist communities by supporting non-profit organizations that provide human services, community development, educational, artistic, cultural, civic, and environmental programs. To discover if you qualify or to apply for a grant, check out their guidelines for corporate giving within North Dakota.

This article originally appeared in the August, 2015 issue of the State Library’s Flickertale (PDF).

Tips for Library Fundraising

dollar_sign[1]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.

Continue reading

Fundraising Events for Libraries

dollar signAt the Summer Summits that were held in August, fundraising was a topic that was discussed at multiple locations. Many impressive fundraising ideas were shared by the libraries in attendance.

Many of the fundraising ideas were special, or “signature,” events. This means that they are annual events, unique to the library, that the community looks forward to attending each year.

Some events hosted by North Dakota libraries include:

  • Garden party
  • Tour of Homes
  • Vendor fairs
  • Ice cream socials
  • Silent auctions
  • Purse raffles

As a follow up to a successful Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) program, last year WebJunction hosted a webinar entitled “Signature Events for Small Libraries,” which provided many ideas for unique events and tips for planning and hosting them. The slides are still available for viewing, along with related planning resources. You can listen to the recorded webinar by logging in with a WebJunction account.

If you are interested in further information on hosting a special fundraising event, check out Beyond Book Sales: the Complete Guide to Raising Real Money for Your Library from the North Dakota State Library. It includes tips for planning and hosting successful special events.

It also highlights reasons why you might want to host a special event, such as:

  • Raising the visibility of your library in the community
  • Enhancing the image of the library among citizens
  • Creating a new pool of potential donors

Does your library host a special fundraising event? Share your stories in the comments!

Library Bike Rides

This summer, blue-stamp-logo-with-tail-105I rode my bike to work. I only live two miles from the State Library, so it is not a challenging commute. It was definitely a great way to spend a little more time outside while the weather was warm.

Recently, I learned about Cycling for Libraries, “an international cycling conference for librarians and library lovers,” which “aims to advocate libraries and increase awareness of the valuable services and resources that libraries offer to the community.” This year, the main tour took place in France, but there were also local tours in Texas and Tennessee, in partnership with the library associations in each state.

With Bike the Border and CANDISC, North Dakota is no stranger to long bike rides, but these lengthy rides are not for everyone. However, you may be able to implement a shorter bike ride in your community while still raising awareness about the library, and raise some money for the library as well, if you organize a fundraising bike ride!

The International Bicycle Fund has an outline of what you’ll need to do to organize a fundraising bike ride. The Alliance for Biking and Walking has a much more in-depth guide to help prepare you and assist you with every step of the process. Bike riding season is drawing to a close in North Dakota, leaving you plenty of time to prepare for next year!

How do you think this work in your community? Do other organizations in town have biking fundraisers? Share your thoughts in the comments!