Interview with Mary Jo Ketchum
  August 30, 2000

How does a library begin to institute an annual appeal and what kinds of fundraising should that entail?

An annual appeal requires a mailing list, which presumes some prior contact with a mass of people. At the outset that may be very small, because of restrictions which prevent the solicitation of card-holders. It is very helpful to have a Friends group or an Advocacy group, people who have assented to being numbered as supporters of the library.

Years ago, when my library needed to raise $9,000 to match a grant, we had no such list and went directly to the taxpayers of the town and to all town residents. Both lists are readily available. A library-community partnership that I heard of teamed up with a local utility, the Water Dept. which inserted the appeal with the water bill. That covered everyone! And it worked. It is just so remarkable that when you ask, people give!

An annual appeal by definition is a renewable gift, not tied to any more advanced plans, although many organizations sweep a variety of opportunities under the annual umbrella. So, you will read about bequests and named scholarships and gift clubs in annual reports. Simply, however, an annual appeal is a letter, sometimes followed up by a phonathon, to a body of people, for a one-time gift, payable periodically in the year, or at once.

One conclusion from these thoughts on an annual appeal is that it is phase two of a development plan. What is phase one? Friend-raising. Gather people together, or go to them, and help them to concretize their regard for and value in the library. That's a friendly thought and one that could lead to a demonstration of friendliness and support down the line.


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