Featured Expert   
Susan Love
August 2000

If a library doesn't have the money to hire a consultant, what should they focus their limited time and resources on?

"Well, it depends on what a library is fundraising for. There are different ways to raise money. The Friends of the Library probably do things like book sales. Book sales are great, and if you want to be very with it, you could put your book sale on the Internet and have your book sale listed on the used book pages. As a matter of fact, you could do it as a consortium of libraries. It's a full time job, but there are lots of volunteers who probably enjoy helping with this. So, you could be running a little bookstore, and then along with several other libraries you could sell your books online.

The other thing you should be doing, that is really important, is keeping good records of annual gifts. When annual giving is targeted towards something concrete, like buying a computer, or fixing the furnace, you will make more money than you would for a general annual giving request. People like to give to something specific. They also like to hear a story in your letter. Think of all those letters you get in the mail that say 'Little Mary is sick with such-in-such, please donate so little Mary and all the children like her will get better.' It works. We may call it junk mail, but it actually works. Everybody likes personal stories. So, you should talk about the difference that something or somebody has made to someone in the library,- 'Do you remember Mrs. Jones who was the librarian in 1955? She came by the other day, she's 85, and was thrilled that we did this, this and this.' People read those, and they remember Mrs. Jones, and you'll get a much better response.

The other thing you should always be thinking about is - who in the community might write you into their will. This is called planned giving, and [many] schools do this. There is a very good organization called CASE in Washington. They have wonderful fund raising magazines, and although they are focused on education, they have some of the best information that I have seen. Planned giving not an easy topic to broach with people, so you really want to look at other organizations' planned giving programs to see how it's done. Make sure trust and estate lawyers in your area know that the library accepts contributions through wills. If you have a community foundation in the area you live in - make sure that your library is on the docket for that group's grant program. A very new trend that is emerging is the process by which corporate employees are going to give their money to nonprofit organizations. Instead of solely donating through the United Way at work, corporations will probably have "giving weeks" or "giving months" where employees will be able to choose amongst many different charities on the Web. So, employees will just put in the amount of money they'd like to donate every month, and corporations can match the donations immediately. If this is happening in a local corporation, for example-IBM in Poughkeepise, make sure your library is on this type of list."

(Register on Guidestar to ensure people can find information on your library for a program such as this)


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