With tax caps and a severe recession, income in most libraries has and is continuing to decline. Book sales are no longer enough to supplement the budget. Directors and trustees are adding fundraising to their job descriptions as they seek alternative revenue resources. Most of us decided to work in libraries or on boards because we love what libraries are and do and want to help them to do more and better. We did not sign up to fundraise but are doing so to provide critical support for our libraries.
I plan to write a series of short articles on fundraising but before that we need to make sure we do our homework first. Do we have a long-range plan? Have we identified our priorities? If not, we need to back up and do this with the help of our community, board, and staff. We need to look at our strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities (SWOT) and plan for the library our community needs and wants. Then we need to explore ways of funding that plan.
To start, the director and board analyze the budget to identify what critical services to fund first. The director and staff look at services to identify those declining in popularity or use and downsize, even eliminate, them to free time and dollars to better fund higher priorities or to develop more needed services. Each department must streamline processes so it can focus energies on what delivers the most value.
After that the board can develop long and short-term fundraising goals and research methods to identify the best for their purposes.
All fundraising takes planning and time. It is wise to commit the time to do it right the first time. Then you can build on the relationships you have established and the successes you have experienced.