Top 10 Fundraising Strategies for Friends of the Library Groups and Foundations
If you look past the seemingly endless shelves of books, you’ll find that libraries are significant centers of learning, professional development, and community. At your local library, you can find jobs, explore different perspectives, research new ideas, be inspired by stories, and so much more.
There’s something for everyone at the library, and all of the library's services are available for free thanks to support from Friends of the Library groups and foundations. Here are fundraising ideas to help any Friends of the Library group raise vital funds while creating community awareness and appreciation for the local library.
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Go Beyond the Book Sale
Most Friends of the Library groups are known for their annual community book sale. This is one of the largest and most successful fundraisers for Friends of the Library groups, but what if there were ways you could raise even more during this event? Maximize the support earned from the community book sale by giving these ideas a try:
- Host a silent auction: Have attendees bid on big-ticket items, such as a large collection of books or packages donated from local organizations.
- Raffle off gift baskets: Package a classic book with story-related goodies that people can pay to enter and win.
- Reward loyal customers: Offer a preview sale the day before your community book sale kicks off to volunteers, major donors, and other loyal customers of the Friends of the Library store.
Run a Year-End Campaign
Year-end giving can be a huge boost for your annual fund. Why? Something about the holidays has everyone feeling extra generous! Many nonprofits report that nearly half of their annual funds come from their year-end ask.
Develop a year-end campaign to reach out to supporters from October through December. Make sure you include #GivingTuesday participation as part of your year-end strategy.
Year-end strategy is all about telling a story that resonates with your supporters and inspires them to give. Show the impact your library has had over the past year and demonstrate the value it adds to the entire community. Make your donors the hero of this story, and ask them to support your library through a direct mail appeal, email pipeline, social media campaign, or combination of all of these!
Friend-raiser With Peers
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a fundraising strategy that empowers individuals, teams, or groups to raise money on your behalf. Peer-to-peer fundraisers are a great way to drive donations because they help you build social proof, expand your reach, and engage with supporters in a fun and rewarding way. Plus, people love to participate in peer-to-peer fundraisers. Nearly one-third of all donations are now made through a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
Increase the sense of friendly competition among participants by offering a reward for the highest fundraiser or adding on a challenge, such as a read-a-thon.
Offer Naming Opportunities
Donor recognition and appreciation is a critical component of any fundraising effort. One way to take this even further is to offer naming opportunities as a way to celebrate, honor, and build lasting relationships with major donors.
Bricks, benches, statues, shelving, display units, room renovations, supplies, equipment—the possibilities are endless! Start by identifying places and objects that could use a name. Then, rank these places based on visibility and appeal. For example, having a donor’s name displayed in the front lobby may be prioritized over the staff meeting room. Align the gift levels you set for each place or object with the overall campaign goal to ensure fundraising needs are met.
Don’t Fundraise Alone
Double your reach by partnering with local organizations in your community that have a similar mission or connection to the library. Many companies also offer a corporate sponsorship program that your group may be eligible to participate in. Furthermore, lots of companies and organizations are willing to match gifts donated up to a certain amount.
Partnering with other organizations is a great way to encourage donors to be a part of something much larger happening in the community. Not only does this boost your own fundraising efforts, but it also improves brand recognition, attracts new customers, and increases employee satisfaction for the companies who partner with you.
Online giving has seen consistent, year-over-year growth. Now, more than half of donors report that they prefer to give online using a debit or credit card. Mobile giving has seen an even larger increase in popularity in recent years. Today, 25% of donors complete their donations on mobile devices.
Direct mail remains one of the top ways to raise funds, but be sure you can accept online donations with a mobile-friendly website. There are lots of software tools that make this easy to do. Some giving platforms can even help you set up text-to-give and QR donations to make mobile fundraising even faster. Research what tools best fit the needs and budget of your group.
Spread the Word
Make sure you’re utilizing all of the community resources available to you. If you’re not already, make sure to post information about your group or foundation on community bulletin boards and local event calendars. Write press releases and reach out to local media for upcoming events. Show media outlets that your fundraising events are newsworthy by demonstrating the value your group adds to the community.
In some ways, social media has become the latest community bulletin board. Make sure you’re maintaining an active presence online, even if it’s just to show people your group is active. If nothing else, your Friend group or foundation should at least have a Facebook group so people can stay updated, share your content with others, and receive notifications about upcoming events.
Invite the Community In
Show prospective supporters how fun the library can really be! Invite them inside the walls of your library in new, exciting ways for fundraising events.
Here are some ideas:
- Food / beverage nights: What’s an excellent pairing? A tasty snack and a page-turning book! Host coffee time, food festivals, or wine tastings centered around a literary topic or a specific book.
- Get loud in the library: Invite local musicians, poets, or authors to make some noise with live performances and readings inside the library.
- Board game tournaments: Turns out, people who love to read usually love word games as well! Charge an entry fee for teams to participate in board game tournaments and spend time with other word game enthusiasts at the library.
- Book-themed parties: Bring classic stories to life and transform your fundraising events to match the theme of a well-known book. Great Gatsby Gala, anyone?
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your fundraising events. You can host a scavenger hunt, transform your library into a mini-golf course, and nowadays, you can transform all of the above into a livestream event!
Fundlibraries.org is an all-in-one website that allows libraries, Friends and foundations, and even individual library boosters to build a campaign and solicit donations from their supporters. Fundlibraries.org utilizes the “power of the crowd” to support your fundraising campaign by placing your project in front of a national audience of nearly half a million library lovers on facebook.com/everylibrary.
It’s like a DonorsChoose or GoFundMe, but for libraries only. That focus and reach means that your one-time or annual appeals can reach a local audience as well as a national one. Get started at FundLibraries.org today.