Crowdfunding for Libraries (8 steps)


As the world gets smaller and more people have access to the internet, we are getting requests to fund local library projects all over the world. These projects are important “peace centers” where young and old can be trained, read a book or meet for a cup of coffee.

The concept of fundraising for libraries isn’t a new topic. Roberta Stevens, past ALA president 2010-2011 from the Library of Congress, helped develop a framework to help librarians do fundraising. In the past year, technology platforms for fundraising started to offer libraries new ways to raise funds. These programs can be done anywhere in the world. However, a US partner is a good way to make all the connections and validate the process. The Leeway Foundation created a web page as a starting point for anyone looking to do crowdfunding for libraries.

On the academic side, movement towards crowdfunding is increasing. For example, in U. of Virginia Teams Up With ‘Crowdfunding’ Site to Finance Research stated, “The University of Virginia is one of the first to start such a fund-raising effort through a partnership with a crowdfunding start-up company. UVa is teaming up with Useed, a company focused on promoting fund raising in higher education by soliciting donations for university research projects or student-proposed entrepreneurial projects.”

According to the Fundraising Toolkit by the American Library Association, there are 8 easy steps to follow:

1. Recruit Help

In small or rural libraries, most of the responsibility for leading this effort will fall on the shoulders of the library director or manager, but he or she need not embark on this alone.

2. Examine your library’s community

Work with your committee to look at your community’s political, economic, social and cultural environment. What are your community’s strengths? Its challenges? Its important issues? What is happening with education, business, jobs, the arts?

3. Tie your library to community issues

If you’ve done a good job evaluating your community, connecting your library with its issues and values should be fairly straightforward. Take the checklist you have created and determine how the library relates to each one.

4. Develop your case

People will give to you because you meet needs, not just because you have needs. What are you raising money for, and why is it important?

5. Identify potential donors

Who is in a position to support your library? Is it local businesses? A civic or fraternal organization? A book club or garden club? Parents? Which individuals are likely in a position to write a check?

6. Make your fundraising visible

Consider planning activities that call attention to your library’s role in the community and its vital services. Events such as book sales, contests, read-a-thons, speaker programs, and others are all great ways to add some spin to your fundraising efforts.

7. Be realistic about the kinds of fundraising your library can succeed at.

Be honest. Set goals that are ambitious, but achievable in the context of your community’s size, its resources, and the environment you have evaluated.

8. Have fun with fundraising!

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