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decorated chairs

Don’t take library budget cuts sitting down.

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we’ll take a look at some library fundraising ideas that have proven successful.

In Part 2, we’ll review some resources for helping you get started with your own fundraising initiative.

Fundraising has become more critical than ever, with library usage up and budgets down. So what can you do to raise money, beyond applying for grants? What have other libraries done to close the funding gap?

The five-county Winnefox (WI) Library System has a multitude of fundraising ideas. A recent one involved a silent auction featuring artistically painted chairs. The original plain wooden chairs were donated by community members and then made available in the library to patrons who wanted to take them home and paint them, with the goal of auctioning them off a few months later.

Other fundraising ideas the library systems has implemented include:

  • Partnering with local restaurants who agreed to donate a portion of the designated day’s receipts to the library
  • Silent auctions featuring donated garden items, gift baskets, and even bedazzled rocks!
  • Engraved bricks that pave a path at the library, available for a donation of $100-600
  • Partnering with local charities to benefit both, such as The Quilt that Built a Library—an initiative wherein local quilters donated quilt blocks along with a $5 tax-deductible donation per block to benefit both the library (through the monetary donation) and Project Linus (through the quilt blocks)
  • The GoodShop toolbar which, when added to a patron’s Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox browser on their home computer, nets the library money each time a search box is used or the patron shops at any of 2,500 online stores
  • Annual wine tasting events that have netted between $3,000 and $10,000 per year

To help ensure the success of fundraising events, the library system works hard year-round to educate the public about the library’s value. For instance, an ROI calculator on their website allows patrons to input their own recent usage to figure out what those services would have cost if the library didn't exist, or if the services and resources weren’t offered free.

Other libraries have raised money with these initiatives:

  • Contacting previous donors in a renewal campaign
  • Creating a memorial-giving brochure
  • Displaying local artists’ work and collecting a portion of any sales
  • Used book sales
  • New book fairs
  • Poetry/spoken word open mic nights, with donations requested
  • Garden fairs
  • Fashion shows
  • Flea markets
  • Literary teas
  • Chili cook-offs
  • Giving tree donations
  • Book plates, plaques, or library room names honoring benefactors

Part 2 of this post will examine sites and resources to help you generate fundraising ideas that will work at your library.

In the meantime, we’d be interested to hear about the fundraising successes you’ve already achieved.

27 Nov 2013 | Posted by Shannon Janeczek

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