Libraries are an important part of communities for creating a haven of education, inspiration and opening our eyes to a world through books and publications. A critical component to the success of libraries everywhere are groups called Friends of the Library.
What are Friends of the Library Groups?
Friends of the Library are groups and individuals that help to preserve, support and strengthen libraries throughout the U.S. Friends of the Library members consist of enthusiastic library supporters who believe in the importance of libraries as the social and intellectual centers of communities and campuses. Members consist of individuals who use libraries, people who organize library fundraisers to foster development, and influential community members that help govern libraries across the nation.
These amazing groups of people are quite literally the greatest friends of the library in their community. As local governments have shifted the amount of support and funding that is given to libraries, Friends of the Library groups have become essential to the success and growth of local library systems. Libraries are seen as a place to provide resources that are not only timely, but useful and technologically up to date. Therefore, it has become even more important for these groups to raise additional funding in order to keep up with demand, while filling in the gaps left by shifts in government funding.
Building Community Awareness and Support
The purpose of Friends of the Library groups is not only to raise money for the library, but also to create awareness and appreciation for the library within the local community. So when planning friends of the library fundraisers, make sure you promote your fundraisers outside of the library. Spread the word to local media, utilize social networking channels, post announcements on your organization’s website, create flyers to post on community bulletin boards, send email announcements to your loyal database and ask them to help spread the word. Look for businesses to sponsor your fundraiser with financial donations as well as assistance promoting your library fundraiser. All of these efforts will help increase the success of your fundraising campaign and help you spread the word for your library or special cause. After all, a library is not just a place to check out books, it’s a place to gain knowledge, a place for information exploration, and a social gathering place where people can enjoy spending time together.
For more guidelines and information about planning your fundraising initiative, read our fundraising tips.
Friends of the Library Fundraising Ideas
There are many great library fundraising ideas for Friends of the Library groups to consider for their fundraising campaign. From applying for grants to hosting book sales to organizing a community fundraising event to planning a unique fundraising initiative such as a reading challenge… there are many different fundraisers to consider. Don’t be afraid to be creative and think outside the box. In order to keep libraries up with technology, community demand and the latest and greatest resources, here are some ideas to help any Friends of the Library group raise vital funds, and awareness, for every community library.
Host Friends Nights at Local Restaurants
How about offering a “Friends Night” Fundraising campaign? Your Friends of the Library group could partner with a different local business each month to offer a Friends Night. For example, a local restaurant would host Friends Night on a Tuesday night from 5 – 9 pm. Restaurant patrons would be informed that a percentage of their food bill will be donated to the local Friends of the Library group to support a specific fundraising cause.
Organize a Walk-a-thon
Walk-a-thon fundraisers are a great way to use the power of community members to come together and raise money from their network of family and friends. Participants commit to collecting pledges and donations for your library and often work in teams to inspire others.The event could begin and end in the library parking lot to increase exposure to the media and the participants about the library and the resources available there. Additionally, by reaching out to sponsors for the event, you could have them sponsor mile markers, provide in-kind support of water or food or create a matching gift Challenge to increase participation for money raised. Tracking and monitoring donations and participants can be overwhelming for some groups, which is why our Peer-to-Peer Software for walk-a-thons is a great tool to ensure that walk-a-thons are a success. Using walk-a-thon software helps to create a seamless experience for both the participants and the Friends of the Library organization. Tracking donations made far and wide, ensuring pledges are paid and allowing credit card payments to be processed online come together to help ensure any event is a success.
Host a Book Sale
An example of one of the most popular book sales for raising funds for a mission is the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Each year in communities around the United States, this organization gathers donated books and then holds a weekend long book sale to raise money, and exposure, for its work. Because the books are donated, the sale of the books are completely profitable. If a Friends of the Library group chooses to hold a book sale, it could be held at the library itself or at another venue that could be approached for an in-kind donation of space to hold the sale. Be sure to sell coffee and pastries as an add-on to the event. A book sale also provides an excellent volunteer opportunity for the members of the Friends of the Library, keeping them engaged and energized around their mission.
Offer Naming Opportunities
There are numerous naming opportunities throughout a library. Many times, people who are passionate about an entity, building or place enjoy coming back to see their name displayed within the building to show their support and connection to the organization. Every library has rooms, shelves, sections, benches and even the building itself that could be named based on a certain donation level. Members of the Friends of the Library group often feel so passionate about the library, they may want their favorite section or shelf named after them as a way of leaving a legacy.
Keeping track of naming opportunities supported or still available is critical for the success of a campaign such as this. Having fundraising software that allows for the tracking of donations, gifts secured and donor information is important for record keeping and donor stewardship. Our Donation Software can help.
Research Grant Opportunities
There are a multitude of grant opportunities for technology, program assistance, capital campaigns and various other needs associated with raising money for a library. Researching the types of grants available, along with writing the grants, can take a bit of time but the results can make a tremendous impact on the success of a fundraising campaign. A great place to start researching grant opportunities available, and the parameters that need to be met, is The Foundation Center’s online database of foundations and their grant opportunities. You can search the database by geographic location, grant focus area or even amounts given to help you narrow your focus for applications and increase the likelihood of securing grant funding.
Host a Book Themed Cake Party
Special events are always a great way to engage supporters and donors, increase awareness around a mission and provide an opportunity for a fun and enjoyable experience. A different kind of idea for a fundraising event could be a cake decorating contest that is centered around a book theme. Entrants would create cakes around their favorite book and display them at the event. People would purchase tickets to the event and vote for their favorite book cake. It’s a different twist on the typical fundraising event while keeping with the library theme. And who doesn’t like a great piece of cake?
Create a Friends of the Library Book
What better way to raise money for a library than to create a book to sell! Libraries hold memories and stories for people that frequently visit them. An idea would be to create a book that is comprised of stories written by the members of the Friends of the Library group telling their memories and stories of their life experiences within a library. By having individuals write their stories and memories, they are creating a lasting impact and legacy of the imprint that libraries put on people’s lives. Include vintage photos of the library and patrons for even greater impact.Once the individuals have written their stories and submitted it, all of the stories would be put into a book, which would then be printed and sold for profit. In-kind donations of printing services could be arranged with a local printer, allowing the cost to produce the book to be greatly decreased and therefore increasing the amount of money raised. By sharing stories of their life, it connects your passionate supporters to your mission even more and creates a legacy of support for generations to come.
Don’t Forget to Say Thanks
However you decide to raise funds and awareness for your local library, remember that thanking donors is a key step to creating lasting relationships and a legacy of success for your library. Every person who is a part of a Friends of the Library group makes an impact on the critical work and support that libraries leave in our communities. By taking the time to genuinely thank each supporter you are reminding each person that their passion matters and makes a difference.