Ideas for Successful Friends of the Library Fundraising

Ideas for Successful Friends of the Library Fundraising

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.

These amazing groups of people are quite literally the greatest friends of the library in their community. Members of Friends of the Library groups usually consist of enthusiastic and energetic people who believe that libraries are a social and intellectual center of communities. These groups are comprised of people that use the library, and the services within it, individuals that raise both funds and awareness for the library and people that help provide governance and leadership for the library or library system.

As local governments have shifted the amount of support and funding that is given to libraries, Friends of the Library groups have become even more essential to the success and growth of our local library systems.

Because libraries are seen as a place to provide resources, support and information that is not only timely, but useful, 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.

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:

  • Organize a Walk-a-thon: Walk-a-thons 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 DoJiggy’s 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 State 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 feel so passionate about the library itself, 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 pledges, gifts secured and donor information is important for recordkeeping and donor stewardship. DoJiggy’s Donation Software can track every detail of naming opportunities for both the donor and the Friends of the Library group.
  • 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.

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.

See more Fundraising Event Ideas.


About Heather

Heather Filipowicz, CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive), has over 15 years of nonprofit fundraising and management experience. She successfully raised millions of dollars for various nonprofits in the Buffalo, NY community. Now, she resides in Tampa, FL where she is a writer, blogger, yogi and Mom.

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