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Library Fundraising Ideas

Just like many nonprofit and community organizations, library fundraising has become an important source of funding for almost any public library. If your library is in need of new materials or computers, chances are you may need to consider raising the required funds from the community. School libraries can also use fundraising ideas to help fund their needs and keep them relevant. If you are looking for fundraising ideas for libraries, the information below should be a great place to start.

Readathon or Reading Challenge

A fun library fundraising event that also ties into the mission of a library would be to host a Readathon or Reading Challenge. This type of fundraiser works just like a walk-a-thon or other peer-to-peer fundraising event, in terms of your participants raising money. Members of the community sign-up to participate in the fundraiser and raise money. They then ask relatives, friends, and neighbors to make a pledge or donation to help a certain cause -i.e. purchase new children's books or upgrade computers. Donation or Pledge amounts can be calculated either by the number of books read in a specified period (i.e. 30 days), or contributors can also choose to donate a fixed amount.

The best way to obtain a lot of donations easily and quickly is through DoJiggy Pledge fundraising software. Participants create personal fundraising pages where they upload photos, explain their mission and have people make secure donations online. Participants can send out an email donation request letter that includes a link to their personal fundraising page. For more information about hosting an "a-thon" fundraising event including sample pledge forms, participant registration, forms and "how-to" planning guidelines, visit our peer-to-peer resource center.

Another variation of a Readathon is an event called "Born to Read". This program reaches out to parents and babies to teach them to love books at an early age. Sessions are held in the library to show parents and caregivers how much fun reading can be and encourage them to read to their children. The program can be funded through donations or small admission fees for the sessions. Libraries can reach out to publishers to ask for donations of new children's books that a publisher is trying to promote. This book can be given to each attendee as a small gift, which basically covers their admission fee.


Libraries are no longer places just for finding great books, magazines, music, DVDs, and information online, they've become places to create as well. With this in mind, why not host a Write-a-thon? Participants can research, become inspired, meet other writers, and work on their projects all at the same time! Blazing Laptops, a successful write-a-thon event in San Diego, brings in teachers, poets, and even yoga instructors to help lead activities throughout the day. Write-a-thons are a great way to highlight the library and build community!

Community Event & Book Sale

Since a library is already a local hub for many people to gather and spend time, hosting a community book sale is an excellent library fundraising idea. Consider an event that strengthens the mission of the library, but why not go beyond just selling books? What else do libraries offer? Information and technology. So why not consider adding a twist to the typical book sale by getting the library systems team and tech savvy librarians to donate their time by answering questions and servicing home computers? People are often in need of technical support for their home computer, but don't have an IT person down the hall, like they do in the office.

The actual book sale part of the event should be relatively easy. A few months prior to the event, collect book donations. Recruit volunteers to help organize the book displays the day of the event, and sell books for a low price. You may also want to consider making the event even more appealing by adding refreshments and entertainment. Reach out to a local artist or band to see if they would be interested in performing during the event or bring in an author of a newly released best-selling novel (or one with local ties) to attend the event for a book signing. Reach out to local restaurants to see if they would be interested in attending the event and offering free sampling or food and beverage sales.

There are plenty of other community events to consider, so feel free to explore our creative fundraising events for more ideas.

Silent Auction With Entertainment and Refreshments

Another great idea for a library fundraiser is a silent auction. Since many community members frequently visit a library, an auction table could be on display for a week preceding the silent auction event giving people a chance to browse the auction items and tell their friends. Bid sheets are placed next to each item along with item descriptions and starting bid amounts. Auction flyers can also be available with a link to an online website where more information can be obtained about auctions items, and bids can be placed online. Once the bidding has ended, auction items can be auctioned off either during a community event hosted at the library, or items can be auctioned off online using charity auction software.

A silent auction has potential to bring in a large amount of funds. There are little costs associated with hosting a silent auction. Typically all items are donated from community members and businesses. Often "large ticket" items are donated which could potentially bring in high bids. These often included items autographed by local celebrities such as professional athletes, musicians, etc. If the charity auction is planned in conjunction with another event such as a wine tasting or dinner, additional revenue can be made through selling tickets.

Read more information about how to organize a silent auction here.

For more information on fundraising for libraries, please see our article on Friends of The Library.

Fundraising Resources.