Tip Sheet #10

Fundraising in ACRL


The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Board of Directors encourages donor support of division programs and activities and believes that it is important to coordinate all requests through a centralized program. In 1992, the ACRL Board of Directors created the ACRL Colleagues Program. The purpose of the program is to generate non-dues revenue to allow ACRL to expand programs and services to members and donors, and to do more in the area of promoting the profession.

Since its establishment, ACRL's Colleagues program has supported ACRL programs and activities directly or indirectly by providing such things as scholarships, honoraria for speakers, hook-ups for Internet rooms, expenses for speakers, receptions and refreshment breaks, printing of proceedings, etc.

As an ACRL colleague, you will have a targeted reach, measurable returns, and access to our national network of academic and research librarians.  The ACRL Colleagues Program has seven levels of giving:

  • Summa cum laude     $25,000 and above
  • Magna cum laude      $20,000 - $24,999 
  • Cum laude                $15,000 - $19,999
  • Mortar Board             $10,000 - $14,999
  • Dean's List                $5,000 - $9,999
  • Honor Roll                 $1,000 - $4,999
  • Donor                       Up to $999

Fundraising Plan

If your unit has a program or activity it would like to have supported by a donor, you should let the ACRL office know by submitting a plan by September 30. The plan should provide the following information:

  • Name of sponsoring unit
  • Name or title of program or event
  • Date and place of program or event
  • Brief statement of purpose
  • Budget for the program or event
  • List of potential donors you wish to solicit
  • Day you wish to begin your solicitation

Under ALA and ACRL guidelines, you may NOT directly approach a potential donor without first clearing it with the ACRL executive director. Units receive written notification to proceed after their plans, which list the names of potential donors they intend to approach, have been reviewed. In some cases, e.g., the Rare Books and Manuscripts and Western European Specialists sections, where the donor contacts are highly specialized or repeat contributors, a request need not be submitted each year. However, names of new potential donors that are added to those lists must be submitted. The executive director will review requests first to ensure that donors do not receive competing requests from ACRL units and to ensure that units are not approaching donors who are on the ALA list.

Units may seek funds from outside sources to support a variety of programs and activities, such as providing speakers, establishing an award, conducting a survey, covering audiovisual equipment costs for conference programs, etc.

Approaching Potential Donors

Once clearance from the executive director to approach potential donors has been received the following steps should be followed:

  • Develop a clear statement describing how funds being solicited will be used and who will benefit.
  • Be prepared to tell potential donors about the benefits their organization will receive as a sponsor or cosponsor (use the ACRL Colleagues recognition tip sheet).
  • Contact potential donors first in person or by telephone and then by follow-up by letter.
  • If a potential donor is not responding, contact another on your list. Do not discuss or identify potential donors to other prospective donors.
  • Once you have received a commitment from a donor, ask that written confirmation be sent to the ACRL executive director. An acknowledgment, with instructions on how to write the check, will be sent to donors.
  • If several donors are being asked to support one project, let all of them know that others are being invited to share in the opportunity.
  • Tell potential donors that their contributions will be acknowledged by the ACRL and ALA executive directors.

Seeking Grants Funding

If your unit has a program or project that it thinks has potential for securing substantial funding ($25,000 or more) from a foundation or governmental agency, you should arrange to discuss your idea with the ACRL executive director in person, or send an e-mail describing the idea to medavis@ala.org. ACRL staff will assist you in preparing a proposal for approaching potential funders. All grant proposals must be reviewed by the ALA Development office staff.

  • Proposals requesting grant funding of up to $99,000 must be approved by the ACRL Board of Directors and the ALA executive director before a potential funder can be approached.
  • Proposals of $100,000 or more require approval from the ACRL Board, the ALA executive director, and the ALA executive board.

Planners of all requests will receive a written message from the ACRL executive director via e-mail, fax, or U.S. mail updating the status and instructing on the next steps to follow.

For answers to questions about the ACRL Colleagues program or about developing your plan, please contact Mary Ellen Davis, ACRL Executive Director, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611; telephone: 1-800-545-2433, ext. 3248; Fax: 312/280-2520; e-mail: medavis@ala.org