One of the great rewards of being president of the American Library Association is making an impact in an area about which you feel personally passionate. For me, advocacy and fundraising have been key concerns as we face an economy that threatens libraries and the services they provide for millions of individuals every day.
The good news is that libraries don’t have to prove that they are needed. Data show that they are used now more than ever. But while library use grows exponentially, the cuts keep coming - shorter hours, shuttered branches, furloughed staff, reductions in new materials, fewer programs, and the continued struggle to ensure access to the most up-to-date technologies and electronic content. Library staff and administrators have done a good job of making less do more, but there is a point at which you can’t do any more than you’re doing with the resources you have.
Building support for libraries through advocacy has been a key ALA goal and a presidential initiative for me and my predecessors. As a next step in advocacy for libraries, ALA members and staff have collaborated on the development of the Frontline Fundraising Toolkit.
Frontline Fundraising can be used by anyone, regardless of the library’s type or size, to supplement local or institutional budgets. Following the model of Frontline Advocacy developed during the presidency of Camila Alire, this toolkit helps library staff and supporters understand how annual funds, special gifts (such as memorials and tributes), major gifts and planned giving work. It provides the basics to start thinking about new ways to raise private dollars using the power of the Internet. It is a guide through the stages of donor relationships. In short, anyone who spends time with the Frontline Fundraising Toolkit will find something helpful for their library.
Private dollars can’t solve the public funding crisis, but they can be a lifeline to libraries during this difficult time and they can allow libraries to offer services that might never have been possible with existing funding sources. I hope that you will use the Frontline Fundraising Toolkit and share the information it contains with your library’s advocates.