What I know about fundraising in libraryland…so far. #13: 2013
Guelph Public Library has an amazing full-time Development Officer (D.O) who has been on the job for just one year. Her job description includes organizing two annual fundraising events (a golf tournament and a gala), writing grants, and developing sustainability programs, e.g. a direct ask campaign and bequest programs.
What we have learned so far includes:
- The library needs clear fundraising goals to be successful. For GPL, a community of 123,000 citizens in southwestern Ontario, our goals are to raise $18,000 in year one, $36,000 in year two, and $72,000 in year three. In year one, we surpassed our goal and raised $27,689.
- There needs to be a clear reason to fundraise. “To pay the utility bills” won’t work. It has to be a specific project with universal appeal like renovating a branch, purchasing more PACs, or as it is in Guelph, raising $10,000,000 to furnish and equip a new Main Library. Fundraising requires a clear plan, goals, timeline, and metrics
- Fundraising in libraryland requires community support. The library needs to have and nurture community support…every single day.
- Fundraising is not a part-time on-the-job training program. You need staff who are fundraising experts, and honestly, they are hard to find. They also need to know your community. Fundraising is an art and a science.
- The library board has an essential role in fundraising. At GPL, the Fundraising Planning Committee is fundamental to the planning process and is front and centre at all events.
- Fundraising takes a team. One D.O can’t pull off a successful fundraising event or design and write a successful grant alone. GPL’s Innovation Department and a team of volunteers back up the D.O in the weeks leading up to an event or program. For grants, HR, IT, and Finance are part of the team.
- Fundraising takes time. If you think you can raise $50,000 in six months to fill a budget short fall, you may – no, you will – be disappointed. Fundraising takes time and patience. It is not a quick fix for a financial crisis.
- You have to spend money to make money. The D.O needs an annual budget for events, marketing, and printing. You will need some “seed” money as most grants require matching funds or at least some financial contribution.
- Fundraising is complex work! There is no guaranteed success. At GPL, we always ask ourselves if it will or won’t work, if the weather going to cooperate, if we can support such a large project, and of course, if we’ll actually make money?
- Fundraising is all about making friends and being a good partner. We spend a lot of time making sure that the folks that support us are treated very well and see real benefit in their support of their home town library.
- Fundraisers have to be great “thankers.” At GPL, we thank all of our sponsors, supporters, volunteers, and friends on a regular basis.
- In Canada, the library needs a charitable status number to issue tax receipts for donations. This sounds daunting. Rather, it is really just tedious and takes about six to eight months to complete.
- Fundraising is not for the faint of heart because sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. The library board and staff need to have a corporate culture where the ups and the downs are embraced and built upon. If you have no tolerance for risk, then fundraising may not be the way to go.
So far, I know that successful fundraising in libraryland requires clear goals, community support, skilled staff, time, patience, seed money, great partners, and guts!
Kitty Pope #13 April 2013