FUNDRAISING AND FRIEND-RAISING
The Library has a great storefront location in cyberspace. Each and every day, libraries large and small attract customers through their online services--and these customers come back again and again. Whether it be the local public library, the high school library, or the Harvard Library, the Internet provides new challenges and new opportunities for service.
In the chapters that follow we will show how creative use of the Internet has enhanced our major gift fundraising, and how it can be used to attract and hold new constituents. We will suggest new possibilities for direct online gifts, and give some ideas for "positioning" your library in cyberspace. We will also share some start-up tips and tricks, as well as practical advice. Finally, we will cite web resources by address so that our readers can explore for themselves.
Fundraising for Libraries
In recent years the public has come to understand that private charitable giving can be an important factor in the survival and enhancement of library services. More and more libraries have undertaken fundraising programs, and these initiatives have proven to be increasingly fruitful. In many ways, libraries have a number of fundraising advantages.
First, there is the accurate perception that libraries "belong to everybody," young and old, rich and poor, native and immigrant, scholar and amateur.
Second, the library provides an easy link to any part of the university or the community. Conversely, library development officers can work with almost any interest as they seek to raise money. Do you love your pets? How about establishing a book fund for purchases of magazines and monographs in the animal-care area? Are you an amateur genealogist? Perhaps you would like to create a "Family History Center" at your library.
Third, libraries and their collections provide some of the best opportunities for lasting memorials. Book plates, named book funds, wall plaques, named rooms, and named libraries--these are all wonderful ways to remember a loved one--or to be remembered.
Fourth, libraries are perceived as safe, warm, service-oriented, non-controversial, and they partake in the "romance of the book." Donors can feel that their gifts are associating them with something of broad and lasting value--as, indeed, they are!
Fifth, in the digital age, libraries have become electronic pioneers. As they lead the way into the 21st century, wired libraries can justly be seen as exciting and cutting-edge. This opens up a whole new constituency for fundraising: Technophiles, in addition to the traditional Bibliophiles.
Sixth, libraries have a significant return for the investment. Often a gift of as little as $25 can buy a book. And endowed book funds, which last in perpetuity, can be started for $10,000 at many libraries.
Web-based fundraising is not a substitute for traditional fundraising. Rather, it can enhance and extend your reach in every area: Membership and Annual Giving; Corporate and Foundation solicitation; Benefits and Drives; Collections gifts; and Individual Major Gift solicitation.
Our book does not attempt to cover the basics of library fundraising. We recommend Becoming a Fundraiser: The Principles and Practice of Library Development, by Victoria Steele and Stephen D. Elder (ALA Editions, 1992) and Friends of the Library Sourcebook, Third Edition, by Sandy Dolnick (ALA Editions, 1996). We believe that most non-profit organizations should consider moving toward a "web-centric" communications model. The simple fact is that the Internet is going to revolutionize everything we do. Institutions that lag behind will lose customers, lose community support, and lose money.
Making a Difference
It is already obvious that the Internet has major changes are in store for those of us in the communications business. Here are some of the reasons why it will make a difference in fundraising and friend-raising:
From the CD version of Fundraising and Friend-Raising on the Web: A Handbook for Libraries and Other Non-Profit Organizations. ALA Editions, 1998. Copyright © 1998, Adam Corson-Finnerty and Laura Blanchard, all rights reserved.