Memorials and Tributes: Easy Ways to Support the Library While Honoring Someone Special

Remember: "simplicity"
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Regardless of the size of your library, memorials and tributes (sometimes called honoraria) should be part of your fundraising plan. Memorials are gifts made in memory of someone who has died. Tributes are gifts made to honor someone still living. They can be given on the occasion of a birthday, graduation, anniversary or other special occasion.

Thanks to the computer and Word software, you can easily design your own “memorials and tributes” brochure and feel proud to give people something that looks professional. The goal is to create a simple, yet effective, brochure that will grab the attention of both library customers and the general public. You’ll want to use color and/or design to draw the viewer’s eye to it. You’ll also want your library’s invitation to donate in this special way to be strong, clear and appealing.  "giving to the library" brochure

This section of the Frontline Fundraising Toolkit will give you some tips for creating a simply-designed “Giving to the Library” brochure that invites memorial and tribute gifts, following the example of the Pioneer Library System Foundation in Norman, Oklahoma. The brochure example included here can be adapted to your library, your needs and your budget. ( See the full-sized PDF“Giving to the Library” brochure.)

Even if this is your library’s first foray into fundraising, and no one on your staff has skills as a graphic artist, you can still create a great brochure using the steps outlined below. ( Note: Always consult with your library administration before writing or designing any brochures.)

Remember: “simplicity”    

  • Tag line and message – Start here with your “tag line,” a title that will catch someone’s eye and attention. “Giving to the Library” is the tagline on the sample brochure.
    Now, what do you want to say? Keep the message simple. Your library does wonderful things with its resources, providing benefits to potentially everyone in its community.  Memorial and tribute gifts allow your library staff to increase library materials, services and programs for library users and bring more people into the library. Tell the reader what your library needs, how memorial and tribute gifts will be used, and how he or she can contribute. Be sure people know that your library’s staff and administration are good stewards of its resources.
  • Design - The design should be simple too. The sample shown here is a simple three-fold brochure that uses 8 ½” x 11” paper. Text can be composed on the staff computer, using Word software. Keep it clear and straightforward.  Download (or scan) photos that have been taken at your library. Need some graphics? Word software’s clip art contains copyright-free photos and graphics. Check out Wikimedia Commons too. Ideally, you will want to copy your finished brochure on a color copier. (If you can only make black and white copies, choose photos and graphics that will reproduce clearly without color.)
    The photos included on the sample brochure suggest the various kinds of giving that a donor might be interested in. You can do the same by choosing photos or illustrations that suggest areas of support or types of gifts that will interest your donors.  Many people begin their giving experience to the library by honoring a loved one’s birthday or accomplishments, or by remembering the loved one’s loss.  Use your text and illustrations to give your brochure a focus, encouraging this simple way of giving.
  • Donation form – Again, keep it simple! Your donation form should take no more than a minute or two to complete. The sample brochure contains a donation form that directs donations to specific community locations or to Adult Literacy Programs. Your library can choose whatever designations work best for you. The important thing is to make giving simple for the donor. Use boxes that can be checked off and blanks that can be quickly filled in.

More tips:    

Be sure to consider and include these things when designing the brochure:

  • Design, color choices, use of photos
  • Library logo, if you have one
  • Welcoming, positive message to the reader that explains the library’s successful work
  • Clear, concise statement regarding why more funds are needed and what they will be used for
  • Suggestions of reasons and occasions that are just right for memorial and tribute giving
  • Library (or receiving organization, such as Friends or Foundation) address and contact information 
  • Name and phone number of library staff to call with questions regarding donations
  • Space for the donor’s name and contact information
  • Space for the honoree’s name for memorials and tributes (and contact information, if desired)
  • Space for payment information and tax-exempt status note

A final grace note is to remember to say “thank you” to the potential donors who read your brochure. It can be as simple as adding one line at the bottom of the brochure that simply says, “ Thank you for supporting your library!”  Your statement of gratitude might be just the message that inspires someone to give.
Your library customers do care about their library and want to help it succeed.  A simple brochure that explains memorial and tribute giving and is available at several locations in your library is a good way to begin your fundraising efforts. It’s also a great reminder to your library patrons that their support makes a difference to the library’s success and to its continued presence in the community.


Many small libraries find memorials and tributes to be the simplest method of soliciting private funds. They also find that, once a donor has given in this fashion, there’s a good likelihood that he or she will do so again.

5. Online Donations: The Newest Way to Give

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