you believe in has to be bigger than what you are afraid of."
Ken Klein, fundraising expert
if there is a negative reaction to our vote in the community? What if
people get angry about taxes?
This is a common concern among library boards, but not one that should
hold you captive if the majority of the board feels that a public vote
is necessary. There are several methods of minimizing or managing negativity
regarding a tax increase. Here are some strategies.
- Deliberate potential
negatives beforehand and create positive responses. Generate a response
script that is utilized by the library director, trustees, and volunteers.
This will ensure consistency of the message. Points to consider as you
prepare responses to possible criticism:
- Clearly outline
the benefits the community will get as a result of their support.
For example, increased hours, more DVD's, a greater selection of
- Remind the
public that this is a good use of tax dollars, and unlike many of
their other tax contributions, this one directly benefits the entire
- Point out that
libraries are transparent, and use money more wisely than most institutions.
Explain to these groups that every time the library wants an increase,
they have to come back to the public. The volunteer fire company
doesn't have to; they can just go to the town and get more money
approved. Explain that they have much more control when it comes
to library funding.
- Use words such
as investment, asset, value, cost-effective, contribution, opportunity
etc. to positively frame the library's proposition.
- Talk in dollars
and cents. Break figures down to the annual real dollar cost to
the average homeowner, so that they realize what a small contribution
they will be making over the course of a year.
- Remind opponents
that "their vote is their voice" and that they are welcome
to participate in the upcoming vote.
- Ask connected
people in the community whom you know and respect to inform you
if they hear anything negative, so you can be prepared and proactive.
- Consider speaking
directly to the source of negativity in a non-confrontational tone.
This strategy has worked effectively for many libraries in neutralizing
- Arrange for
one or two respected people in the community to be on standby to
speak up for the library if public negativity arises.
If a negativity
occurs, consider some quick response
toolkit was created on behalf of the 2005-2007 Getting to Yes (GTY) project.
GTY is funded by Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded
to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library
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