Category Archives: Fundraising

Your Library Has What?! A Guide to Libraries of Things

Libraries have circulated books since the 19th Century, and, as AV materials became available, so did the ability to circulate music and movies (in whatever format was currently available). In the past 5 years, however, there has been an uptick in libraries circulating materials considered “non-traditional.” Patrons of libraries with a “Library of Things” may find themselves checking out Halloween costumes, snowshoes, artwork, instruments, or any number of things their heart could desire. Libraries around the globe are doing what they can to help provide their communities with items to make their every-day lives easier.

Many librarians are scared to take on this new collection since it seems so unprecedented, but fear not. We have collected tips and tricks from around the library-sphere (and internet) to help make the plunge a little bit easier. Read on to have your fears put to rest.

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Online Book Sales

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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.


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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.

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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!

Library Tag Sale Fundraising

saleIt’s summer and that means garage sale season! Everyone loves a bargain! Is this an opportunity for your library to do some fundraising? If you don’t have a local thrift shop or a community organized tag sale, you may want to consider trying it out! You probably already get lots of book donations and have experience with book sales, so why not branch out a bit and see if you can raise more money?

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