On a + note

How to start fundraising. #14: 2013

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on April 8, 2013

kitty#14With all this talk about fundraising, several folks have asked me how to get started.

Here are my best thoughts…

  1. First, ask why the library wants to fundraise. Is there a specific project on the horizon? Perhaps a capital project, a renovation, or a new service? How much money is needed? This assessment should include talking to the board, staff, and other agencies in your community who have successful fundraising campaigns. Don’t rush this process; is it fundamental to your success.
  2. Assess the library board’s commitment to fundraising in the long term. They need to see the Development Officer (D.O) position as a long term commitment, not a part-time temporary job. You need to develop an annual fundraising budget, so they know exactly what they are agreeing to.
  3. Assess the degree of community support for ongoing fundraising. Who are the big, successful fundraisers in your community? Have a talk with them about how they started and what they have learned. This is very valuable information.
  4. The D.O needs to be connected to the whole organization. They need to know how the library operates, and library staff needs to support the D.O’s activities. The quickest way to fail at fundraising is isolating the D.O. The whole organization needs to know what they are doing and support the program.  To do this, making the D.O. part of an existing department, like Communications or, in GPL’s case, the Department of Innovation, is a good idea.
  5. Assess your own personal commitment to fundraising.  It is tough work that requires time, innovation, and courage. This is not something you want to roll out if you are not passionate about the need.
  6. Assess the library’s capacity to embrace fundraising on a sustainable level. For GPL, this involved a two year dialogue with the city, with a clearly defined budget for staffing and support, a job description, and an action plan for the first three years. As scary as it may sound, we put our commitment to fundraising on the line, pledging to raise $18,000 in year one and to double in each of the following two years. With clear goals and an aggressive action plan, the city mothers and fathers agreed to a new full-time position: Development Officer.
  7. Talking to other libraries with D.Os is very useful when it comes to the practicalities of job descriptions, salary scale, and special projects. .

If you are thinking about fundraising for your library, put some serious thought into “the why.” The end result will be a sustainable and rewarding initiative.

Kitty Pope                                                                                            #16 April 2013



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