I have many memories of happy hours spent in the University of York’s massive library, where I first discovered my love of poetry. That library was the reason I decided to major in poetry.
Then back stateside, I loved my student reading carroll in the college library, gazing out the window, sometimes just browsing the shelves for the joy of it.
Libraries create happy accidents, as you browse between the stacks, finding books you never would have imagined existed.
Libraries are a place for the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society to find a place to escape, in a book, in a movie, in music, even in the internet.
Libraries have helped create generations of lifelong readers.
Libraries have helped thousands of nonprofits find funding sources.
I could go on, but you get the point. I love libraries. And you do too.
If you’re a public librarian, you know times are hard for librarians across America. Jobs are being cut. Salaries are frozen. More work is piled on fewer and fewer people.
But the need for your services keeps increasing. Children still need storytime. Jobless people need places to go to look at improving their skills. The line for computers is a mile long. Books keep getting more expensive.
How can you get more financial resources for your library FAST?
Here are 8 fundraising ideas for your library.
Idea 1: Rent out your conference room to
- Businesses who need a conference room
- Nonprofits who need a place for their board meeting
- Solopreneurs who would like to shoot a video of themselves for their website
- Start-up festivals for Makers and Etsy sellers based on specific crafts, like knitting, felting, weaving, clothing, furniture, lamps, etc.
Idea 2: Grants for public libraries:
- Here’s a constantly updated list on Blogspot,
- A list of grants to apply for from a number of corporations
- Tech grants for libraries:
- American Association of School Librarians Information Technology Pathfinders Award
- Cyberchase Initiative for Libraries American Library Association
- Preservation & Digitization Support for Libraries & Museums Institute of Museum & Library Services
- Grants for Texas Libraries
- Grants for Michigan Libraries
- Grants for international libraries
Idea 3: End of Year Appeal letter to your library supporters
Why mail at the end of the year? Because the majority of money that is given to nonprofits is given at the end of the year. This is because people want the tax writeoff, and also it’s around the holiday of Christmas, so people are feeling more generous.
Here are some ideas at the bottom of this blog post about other fundraising ideas
Idea 4: Partner with tea and coffee shops, allow them to have a coffee or tea cart in front of the library, get sponsorship money
Idea 5: Do a bookfair with old books, in conjunction with a neighborhood festival
At my grandparents little town, it’s called The Library Fair, and there are games for kids, a white elephant, a petting zoo, and a house full of books for 50 cents, $1, $2, and more.
Idea 6: Advocate for more money to be allocated in the state budget for libraries, like the Multnomah County Library System did.
Idea 7: Help people see the value in your library
How can you figure out what people value about your library?Ask these questions
Then create a database of people who belong to the library, and match their answers with their patron record. Then you can create 2-3 personalized appeal letters based on what people value about your library.
Idea 8: Hire a fundraising consultant to help you
Do you have any more stories about library funding? Anything you’d suggest that people try?
If you’re really interested in helping your library succeed long term, get more space, get more members, and stop just depending on late fees or government money that can be taken away, then check out the Nonprofit Leadership Summit, September 27-29th, where some of the top nonprofit leaders in the country will be speaking. YOU can attend from your desk!
At the summit, you’ll learn more about fundraising for your library, everything from Major Gifts, Capital Campaigns, Monthly Giving, How to Get that CRUCIAL second gift, how to create better partnerships (and get more sponsors) AND MORE! (PLUS we’ll have 19 CFRE credits available!)