Skip to: Content
Skip to: Section Navigation
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Library Fund Raising: A Selected Annotated Bibliography

ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 24

In recent years, many librarians have turned to nontraditional sources of funding to ensure that their library or library system will be able to provide necessary services with a high degree of excellence. This fact sheet is designed to serve a variety of interests. Whether you are looking to fund a large, one-time project or to form lasting connections with the community at large that will generate future dividends, these sources will be valuable tools.

How-To Manuals: General | How-To Manuals: Specific Library Types | Resources | Consultants


Barber, Peggy and Linda D. Crowe. Getting Your Grant: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1993.
Barber and Crowe remove the mystery and apprehension from the grant writing process. They explore ways to state your library’s case convincingly by linking the library’s mission to the interests of potential funders. They also explore various sources of funding. The text covers the stages of proposal development, as well as following through once the grant is awarded. It presents clear examples of grant applications, letters of support, news releases, etc.

Burlingame, Dwight F., ed. Library Fundraising: Models for Success. Chicago: American Library Association, 1995.

This collection of essays offers an insider’s look at fund raising from the people who have done it. Each contributor brings his or her own experiences from diverse library settings that can be easily adapted to meet the needs of library fund raisers. This text is packed with practical information and covers issues such as special events, capital campaigns, annual programs, forming foundations, renovations, endowed funds, and challenge grants.

Dolnick, Sandy, ed. Friends of Libraries Sourcebook, 3rd ed. Chicago: ALA, 1996.

Dolnick, the executive director of Friends of Libraries USA, covers a broad range of issues on how to organize and manage a Friends Group. There are four essays that concern library fund raising: "Basic Fund-Raising" by Dolnick, "Advanced Fund-Raising" by Peter Pearson, "Library Foundations" by Kay Harvey, and "Books and More for Sale" by Carolyn McReynolds and Christy Connelly. These four essays cover the gamut of fund raising issues and possibilities for Friends Groups.

Gerding, Stephanie K. and Pamela H. MacKellar. Grants for Libraries: A How-To-Do-It Manual and CD-ROM for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers Inc., 2006.

As stated on the publisher's web site: "As libraries cope with budget cuts and shortages, many institutions are turning to grants as means for funding new initiatives and sustaining services. This practical how-to—-authored by two experts with in-depth knowledge and practical experience--outlines the grant-writing process and provides a proven step-by-step strategy for getting your grant. Chapters cover preliminary planning; defining the project; forming the writing team; choosing the best type of funder (government, foundation, corporate, and local organizations) to approach; and more. Core coverage focuses on writing and submitting the proposal including thorough explanation and examples the title sheet, cover letter, table of contents, overview, description, needs, methodology, timeline, budget, evaluation, and more. Additional sections explain how applicants should follow-up on their submission and what to do when your funding is approved. The CD-ROM includes a sample grant template that you can individualize and reproduce for your own grants, as well as model long range plans that can be modified and included in proposals. More than 15 successful grant stories from a variety of institutions and for various funding purposes are also on this invaluable CD for you to model, adapt, or incorporate into your own winning proposals." Authors maintain the Library Grants Blog (see link below).

Gornish, Stanley E. "How to Apply Fund-Raising Principles in a Competitive Environment." Library Administration and Management 12, no. 2 (Spring 1998): 94-103.

Gornish presents the fund raiser as the communicator of a library’s values. He believes that the fund raiser should try not to "sell" the library. Instead, the fund raiser should foster relationships that help people and corporations realize that funding library projects meets their needs -- not just the library’s. Gornish explores the various reasons that people give donations, and with these reasons in mind, he works through the planning and implementation phases of fund raising.

Hannah, Kathryn Covier. "Alternative Funding for Libraries: A Plan for Success." The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances 10, no. 4 (1997): 169-175.

Hannah attacks fund raising using a team approach. She finds the key to success to be bringing together the key stakeholders in a library system. By working through the fund raising process and giving examples of how to utilize the abilities of team members, she provides the tools, guidelines, and strategies to handle the details of fund raising. While this article is shorter than other sources on this list, it still has a great deal to offer the new and experienced library fund raiser.

Herring, Mark Y. Raising Funds with Friends Groups: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2004.

As stated on the publisher's web site: "Are friends groups really a viable way to raise significant funds? Yes, says Mark Herring, who offers step-by-step advice on how to form or restructure friends groups in academic and public libraries. He covers establishing and organizing a steering committee, marketing, communicating with your membership one-on-one and via newsletters, advocacy and support, event programming, publicity, affordable feasibility studies, perpetual programs, and more. A special section shows how to use the Friends Group's Web site to raise funds. This essential guide will help you revitalize existing relationships and create new opportunities."

Holt, Glen E. and George Horn. "Taking Donations in Cyberspace." The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances 18, no. 1 (March 2005): 24-28.

From the article's abstract: "Purpose – To illustrate that potential donors often can have difficulty in determining how to give to libraries and offer solutions that libraries can employ to eliminate those barriers. Design/methodology/approach – Uses real-life examples to illustrate various ways donors can give to libraries and presents options libraries can use to make giving simple and easy. Findings – Libraries currently under-use the potential of online donations. This can be overcome by prominently posting donation options on the library's Web home page, and make donating to the library simple and easy. Originality/value – Suggests options for libraries to incorporate that can simplify the online giving process."

Steele, Victoria and Stephen D. Elder. Becoming a Fundraiser: The Principles and Practice of Library Development, 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2000.

Revised and updated since the original 1992 publication, Steele and Elder not only tell the reader how fund raising should work but they also explain how it actually works. They weave together an over-arching but realistic view of the dynamic process of fund raising. They continually emphasize the importance of leadership, vision, and planning as they dispel fears, introduce basic concepts, guide team building, develop plans, and decide how to form friends groups and organize events.

Swan, James. Fundraising for Libraries: 25 Proven Ways to Get More Money for Your Library. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2002.

This book is a standard "how-to" manual in library fund-raising, an easy and effective read that can guide librarians to finding money in both traditional and non-traditional realms, as well as developing skills in the librarian to secure these funds. The text explores "pie-in-the-sky" approaches to raising all the money one may need, to more mundane yet effective methods that will raise only enough money for the current task.

Theiler, Tamara. "Government Funding--Getting Money from Uncle Sam." Information Outlook 6, no. 6 (June 2002): 50. Also available at Information Outlook Online.

Brief article describing funding and grant resources available to libraries from the federal government.

(Academic, Public, School)

Butler, Meridith A., ed. Successful Fundraising: Case Studies of Academic Libraries. Washington D.C.: Association of Research Libraries, 2001.
An aggregation of case studies to aide the librarian or library director in fundraising activities. The case studies focus on academic libraries and the various processes they developed and executed to raise money for their institutions. These "good" case studies detail the fundraising process and its outcome and propose alternative strategies and methods so that librarians can learn how to be fundraisers by librarians who have learned how to be fundraisers. The most useful aspect of the book is the author’s annotated bibliography (1990-2001) of literature available on the subject.

Clow, Faye and Benjamin Goldberg. Forming and Funding Public Library Foundations, 2nd ed. Chicago: Public Library Association, 2004.

Benjamin Goldberg contributes revisions and updates to Faye Clow's original 1993 publication, which offers practical information on how to form public library foundations. Clow discusses the benefits a foundation can bring to a library. And she works through the details of bylaws and articles of incorporation writing, as well as applying for tax exempt status. She then discusses public relations and funding the newly-formed foundation.

Craft, Mary Anne. The Funding Game: Rules for Public Library Advocacy. Lanham, MA: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1999.

Craft emphasizes local library funding utilizing external efforts such as relationships with voters, soliciting community input, etc and internal efforts such as attention to public planning and presentation of public services, involvement of library trustees, etc. The organization of the book follows the "rules of advocacy" (ThinkChange, Mobilize the Team, Partner with Clout, Talk Assets, Mind the Opposition, and Create and Innovate). Under each rule, Craft gives a general introduction, several case studies of how the rule had been applied in the past, and concluding remarks that wrap up the rule’s overarching concepts.

Dewey, Barbara I., ed. Raising Money for Academic and Research Libraries: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1991.

This collection of nine essays explores various aspects of the four key activities of library development: education, networking, strategic planning, and implementation. Each of the contributors brings his or her unique experiences in the world of academic fund raising to light in clear and concise terms. This collection covers subjects such as planning, Friends Groups, donor relations, grants, corporate connections, library campaigns, planned giving, public relations, and development personnel.

Foley, Chris. "Thoughts on Endowment Fundraising for Libraries." The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances 18, no. 1 (March 2005): 40-42.

From the article's abstract: "Purpose – Libraries rely on endowment revenue for collection development and general operating expenses. Endowment gifts, both for collection development and for general operating expenses, can be a significant priority for a library during this fund-raising effort. As such, it is this column's goal to summarize the challenges and advantages of these endowment gifts, and strategies for endowment fundraising in libraries. Design/methodology/approach – Uses lessons learned by endowment efforts at the University of Pennsylvania Library, noting strategies that have worked. Findings – Endowments present unique challenges and opportunities. While their benefits to the library are often less understood and intangible, often they are more accessible to donors due to a low threshold for establishment and the flexibility to give over a period of years. Originality/value – Challenges and advantages are explored and strategies are offered to improve the effectiveness of endowment fundraising including marketing, challenge programs, and bequest encouragement."

Hall-Ellis, Sylvia D. and Ann Jerabek. Grants for School Libraries. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 2003.

As stated on the publisher's web site: "This invaluable handbook provides necessary information to help school libraries and school library systems complete the arduous grant-application. The book is current and comprehensive in its listings of possible grants and recommendations for successful grant writing."

Hall-Ellis, Sylvia D., Doris Meyer, Frank W. Hoffmann, and Ann Jerabek. Grantsmanship for Small Libraries and School Media Centers. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1999.

Hall-Ellis, Meyer, Hoffmann, and Jerabek focus on the fundamentals of the grant writing process. They discuss planning, project design, narrative, personnel, budget development, and evaluation. They also review various types of grants, especially those geared for small libraries and school media centers. This book is an easy to use guide that offers various approaches to meet the unique needs of each reader.


Corson-Finnerty, Adam. "Cybergifts -- Using the Internet in Library Fund-Raising." Library Trends 48, no. 3 (Winter 2000): 619-33. Also available online via Library Trends at the LookSmart Find Articles web site.
This article begins with a quick history of cybergift giving from the introduction of "Donate Now" buttons on websites, to the author’s "science-fiction" idea of micropayments (e.g. donate $0.15 every five minutes one looks at a website). The article then progresses into an exploration of cybergift giving alternatives and various institutions that have implemented them and their success in so doing. He discusses two ways to attract a potential cybergift giver to one’s website, the "push" and "pull" methods. The "pull" method draws people to the site, in various ways (e.g. offering a service, giving free information, etc.). The "push" method pushes the site to the people, an example being a banner ad. The author finishes his article by predicting that e-mail will become the quickest, simplest, and most effective way in getting people to donate. The article offers a lot of valuable information and should be read by those who have not thought of web-based ideas to raise money.

Corson-Finnerty, Adam and Laura Blanchard. Fundraising and Friend-Raising on the Web. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998.

Finnerty and Blanchard begin with the fundamental law of fund raising, People give money to people. With this in mind, they demonstrate how to turn a Web site into a means to solicit donations as well as a place to keep in touch with donors. They are careful not to present the Web as a magical, money-making source. Instead, Finnerty and Blanchard approach the Web as an additional tool to traditional fund raising. The accompanying CD-Rom works hand-in-hand with the text by taking the reader to examples of fund raising sites on the Web today.

Guide to U.S. Foundations, Their Trustees, Officers, and Donors, 2006 ed. New York: The Foundation Center, 2006.

This guide is the most comprehensive list of active philanthropic organizations in the U.S. The list includes almost 70,000 foundations. Each entry lists the legal name of the foundation, contact information, establishment data, donors, grants paid during the year, total assets, application limitations and information, officers and administrators, and various tax and government codes on each foundation. While this text is not designed specifically for librarians, it still provides the library grant seeker with needed information on who’s giving and how much they gave.

Knight, Dawn Ventress and Emma Bradford Perry. "Grant Resources on the Web: Where to Look When You Need Funding." College and Research Libraries News 60, no. 7 (July/August 1999): 543-545. [Last revised: February 7, 2006]

In this article, which is freely available online and kept updated, Knight and Perry cite and annotate over twenty Web sites that contain databases; electronic publications; and information on foundations, government agencies, and newsgroups that offer grants or resources on grants for libraries. They also discuss sites that cover grant writing.

Kyker, Penny. "Selected World Wide Web Sites for Library Grants and Fund-Raising." Library Administration and Management 12, no. 2 (Spring 1998): 64-71. 

Kyker cites and annotates over twenty Web sites concerning library grants and funding. She covers federal government sites, online networks and directories, foundations and organizations, online journals, online donation utilities, university pages, and software. While several of these sites are duplicated in the Knight and Perry article above and a few others are out of date, this article is still worth consulting; view an archived online version at:

National Guide to Funding for Libraries and Information Services, 8th ed. New York: The Foundation Center, 2005.

As stated on the publisher's web site: "Each of these funders has demonstrated their support for libraries and other information centers. This Guide includes more than 1,500 grantmakers and over 1,100 sample grants."

The Taft Group. The Big Book of Library Grant Money 2006. Chicago: American Library Association, 2005.

This book is perhaps the source on organizations that award money to libraries. It lists nearly 2,400 philanthropic programs associated with non-profit foundations, corporate foundations, and corporate direct givers in the United States. The Taft Group provides fund raisers and researchers with easy to use entries that include corporate data, contact information, giving histories, grant types, foundation donors, publications, and application procedures.


For information on fund raising consultants see:

Paustenbaugh, Jennifer.  "Choosing and Using a Fund-Raising Consultant: A Bibliography." [Microsoft Word (2000) document]

This bibliography was prepared for the LAMA (Library Administration and Management Association) Fund Raising and Development Section’s Development Issues Discussion Group on February 15, 1997. It includes articles and books written between 1991-1995.

A detailed list of online and print resources for finding library consultants appears on the ALA Library Fact Sheet 9: Library Products, Services and Consultants at <>.

August 2006

For more information on this or other fact sheets, contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail:; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.

Related Links

ALA Grassroots Resources
ALA Advocacy Resource Center
ALA Library Funding page
Friends of Libraries U.S.A. - Fundraising
FYI - From what sources are public libraries funded?
Council on Foundations - Looking for Grants?
FirstGov for Nonprofits - Grants, Loans and Other Assistance, Tax Information
Foundation Center Online Librarian - FAQs, Foundation Finder database
Fundraising page at Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki - Allows organizations to electronically find and apply for Federal grants.
Library Grants Blog - Maintained by librarians Stephanie Gerding and Pam MacKellar