ALA Library Fact Sheet 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.
Library Advocacy | Library Funding | Fundraising for Libraries, including Academic, Public, School | Fundraising Consultants | Book Donations | Library Friends and Foundations | Grants and Grantwriting | Online Fundraising Tools
The continuing imbalance of the nation-wide highs in library use up against the cuts in library funding are explored in more statistical detail in ALA Library Fact Sheet 4 - Library Operating Expenditures: A Selected Annotated Bibliography and ALA Library Fact Sheet 6 - Public Library Use.
Materials listed in this fact sheet that are published by the American Library Association are available through the ALA Online Store; you can always see the most current lists of Budgeting, Finance and Fundraising as well as Advocacy books, e-books, and available on-demand webinars.
Library Advocacy, Return on Investment
The ALA Office for Library Advocacy (OLA), which was established Sept. 1, 2007 in response to ALA members naming advocacy as one of their top priorities, focuses its activity on providing resources and support to state and local advocacy efforts. The Office for Library Advocacy is responsible for ILoveLibraries.org, ALA's web site for the public, designed to build awareness of what's happening in today's libraries, those in public, school, academic, corporate, and institutional settings. ILoveLibraries.org encourages the public to Get Informed, Get Involved, and most importantly, to Take Action. All of ALA's library advocacy resources, including a link to the extensive Advocacy University section, are centrally located at ALA Advocacy, Legislation & Issues.
Do not hesitate to contact OLA directly at email@example.com for assistance, including supporting materials, in keeping your library open. Incidentally, the Facebook Page for I Love Libraries has attracted over 35,000 library supporters from all over the world.
ALA's Public Library Association (PLA, a division of ALA) is committed to providing you with information and resources to help you become an even better advocate for your library through public library advocacy tools, training, and education.
ALA's Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL, a division of ALA) provides Marketing @ your library for college and university libraries.
ALA's American Association of School Librarians (AASL, a division of ALA) supplies extensive school library advocacy resources and tools.
The Programming Librarian website of the Public Programs Office provides the Chris Watkins article, Making the Case for Library Programming.
Multiple studies show that libraries provide an excellent return on investment (ROI), with a measurable positive impact on the local economy. These studies and other such resources, like the Library Value Calculator at ILoveLibraries.org, are listed on the Advocacy and Value of Libraries pages on the ALA Professional Tips Wiki. Also see the continuously updated list of news items and reports compiled by this office at:
The ALA Washington Office in the District of Columbia offers a variety of information resources about current federal issues that impact libraries, starting at the page, Federal Advocacy Resources and How to Get Involved.
The most current edition of ALA's popular little fold-out brochure is always available to download as an Adobe Reader PDF file, at Quotable Facts About America's Libraries.
Siess, Judith A. Visible Librarian: Asserting Your Value with Marketing and Advocacy. Chicago: American Library Association, 2003.
Recent law, corporate, and even public library closings are the sad confirmation that libraries are no longer a given. Despite the fact that librarians bring unique value to their communities and organizations, too often their work goes on under the radar. The benefits provided by information professionals are invisible and taken for granted as Internet search engines replace real experts. It's time to assert your value and the value of the resources you marshal. Step from behind the desk or computer to make your community aware of just how indispensable your services are. Here are all the tools you need to become the "squeaky wheel" and attract the attention your work deserves. Use these practical strategies to connect with customers, make services both visible and valuable to the community, and get the word out using proven marketing, customer service, and public relations tactics specifically tailored to the library environment. Learn to provide the answers your users/customers need; gather internal and external champions to grow a funding base; access the resources that keep your enterprise viable; keep information resources available in spite of budget constraints; and be recognized as a value-provider within your organization or community. Library directors, department heads, solo librarians: Learn how NOT to be invisible! Packed with all the best practices in marketing library services, this hands-on guide provides inspiring stories and case studies of library colleagues around the nation who are successfully advocating and marketing themselves and their services.
Smallwood, Carol, ed. The Frugal Librarian: Thriving in Tough Economic Times. Chicago: American Library Association, 2011.
Fewer employees, shorter hours, diminished collection budgets, reduced programs and services—all at a time of record library usage. Don’t fret and fritter away scarce resources. Be frugal! In this book, library expert Carol Smallwood demonstrates that despite the obvious downsides, the necessity of doing business differently can be positive, leading to partnering, sharing, and innovating. This collection speaks to universal concerns, presenting creative and resourceful solutions from dozens of librarians representing a wide variety of institutions. The Frugal Librarian helps library professionals find supplementary funding sources, including grants; save money by sharing resources, using tiered staffing for technical services, and implementing green IT; tap into grassroots movements to save neighborhood libraries; and preserve and enhance important library functions like programming, outreach, and staff development, despite a tight budget. This book offers plenty of ideas that can be implemented immediately. The freely available Frugal Librarian: Thriving in Tough Economic Times excerpt (PDF) of the book includes the table of contents, a selection of the starting pages of several chapters, and the index.
The Funding News @ your library® section of the ALA web site tracks library funding updates. Federal library funding news comes out of the ALA Washington Office while both public library funding news and school library funding news are collected by our public relations department, the ALA Public Information Office.
For some historical notes on library funding, including past editions of the annual Referenda Roundup article from our American Libraries magazine, see the Funding page on the ALA Professional Tips Wiki.
Fundraising for Libraries, including Academic, Public, School
A list of books on library fundraising that may be more readily available from your local public and/or community college library than your local bookstore appears at the free, searchable online database of library catalogs from across the country, OCLC's WorldCat.org, at:
Library Fundraising at WorldCat.org
See the online resources on the web page for the Fund Raising and Financial Development Section (FRFDS) of ALA's Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA, a division of ALA), which includes online versions of slideshow presentations shown at previous ALA Annual Conference programs.
The American Association of School Librarians wiki, Essential Links: Resources for School Library Media Program Development, includes a page on Library Funding.
View a brief list of resources (including this fact sheet) at the Fundraising page on the ALA Professional Tips Wiki.
Also see the freely available online article, Fundraising in Tough Times: How to Survive in a Challenging Economy, by Mal Warwick, from the Spring 2009 Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Dowlin, Ken. Getting the Money: How to Succeed in Fundraising for Public and Nonprofit Libraries. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2008.
Get your library the funds you need! Guided by his lifetime of fundraising experience, Ken Dowlin offers suggestions that range from tips for community programs such as story hours and simple book sales to ideas for influencing referendum issues to gain increased or dedicated funding.
Landau, Herbert B. The Small Public Library Survival Guide: Thriving on Less. Chicago: American Library Association, 2008.
If you're among the nearly 80 percent of libraries deemed "small," serving populations of 25,000 or fewer, then Landau's survival guide will give you the tested and practical techniques to ensure your small library's survival and growth. Landau, a seasoned marketer, applies his three decades of corporate marketing experience to save a small library faced with funding cuts. His customer-centric approaches brought in resources, volunteers, and in-kind donations and earned the library local and national awards. Landau shares practical tools and tested strategies, guiding small public library administrators, trustees, librarians, and friends to define the community's library service needs; develop responsive programs; generate resources to support the programs; and promote the library and its programs to patrons and funding communities. Packed with hands-on guidelines for attracting local support and building partnerships, this user-friendly guide outlines multiple avenues for obtaining funding and increasing cash flow. His low-cost, no-cost, and easily implemented techniques provide a solid foundation for small library success.
Still, Julie M. The Accidental Fundraiser. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2007.
Many nonprofit organizations, including libraries, "need funding yet cannot afford to employ a full-time fundraiser, relying instead on volunteers or staff members to raise the money. Author, librarian, and accidental fundraiser Julie M. Still offers practical and reassuring advice that will help any individual become an effective fundraiser regardless of previous experience. Still describes in her introduction, What Is an Accidental Fundraiser?: "Many organizations use fundraising volunteers to staff the phones during phonathons or annual pledge drives, to stuff envelopes, or to approach specific people--but this is not what I would consider an accidental fundraider. An accidental fundraiser is more intricately involved in the entire process, often making plans or weighing decisions on how to proceed with specific projects. A volunteer may play a variety of roles, but an accidental fundraiser wears a combination management fedora and workman's cap." Chapter headings include: Planning Your Role, Matching Goals with Opportunities, Finding the Money, and Making Friends and Forming Partnerships.
The first chapter, titled No, We Don’t Need a Consultant! is freely available as an Adobe Reader PDF file from the 2009 Wiley publication, Fundraising Consultants: A Guide for Nonprofit Organizations, which is part of the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Fund Development Series.
A detailed list of online and print resources for finding library consultants appears on ALA Library Fact Sheet 9: Library Products, Services and Consultants.
If your library is seeking financial assistance in order to get books -- especially children's books -- you may be eligible to apply for donations from some of the book donation organizations listed in our resource guide on that topic.
Library Friends and Foundations
Citizen support for libraries received a big boost on February 1, 2009. This marks the date when Friends of Libraries U.S.A. (FOLUSA) and the Association for Library Trustees and Advocates (ALTA) joined forces to become an expanded division of ALA. The new organization was first called the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, or ALTAFF for short, but is now United for Libraries (UFL). There are advocacy resources for library trustees and Friends groups.
See USA.gov for Nonprofits, a page of official information and services from the U.S. government, which groups links into three main areas: Grants, Loans, and Other Assistance; Management and Operations; and Tax Information.
Clow, Faye and Benjamin Goldberg. Forming and Funding Public Library Foundations, 2nd ed. Chicago: Public Library Association, 2005.
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.
Dolnick, Sandy. Essential Friends of Libraries: Fast Facts, Forms, and Tips. Chicago: American Library Association, 2004.
For new and experienced Library Friends, library directors, outreach and volunteer coordinators, and anyone who needs information on Friends of Libraries issues, here are the answers. From accounting and advocacy to literacy and lobbying,this is an indispensable quick reference tool for volunteers, trustees, and librarians alike.
Foley, Chris. "Thoughts on Endowment Fundraising for Libraries." The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances Vol. 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.
Herring, Mark Y. Raising Funds with Friends Groups: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2004.
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.
Moore, Mary Y. The Successful Library Trustee Handbook, Second Edition. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010.
Designed to improve any board’s effectiveness, this resource offers proven advice about what it takes to make everything from meetings to evaluations run smoothly and addresses the critical questions every board member needs to understand: What does it mean to be on a library board of trustees? The how-tos of amplifying your message through partnerships--? How does advocacy work and why is it important? Who makes library policy? Is there a more effective way to do strategic planning? Practical checklists, tables, and "what have you learned?" review items will help anyone maximize the experience of serving on a board. Trustees, administrators, consultants, trainers, and library students will welcome this hands-on, "bring it along and mark it up" reference.
Reed, Sally Gardner, and Beth Nawalinski. Even More Great Ideas for Libraries and Friends. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2008.
The first edition of this breakthrough book was a huge success, so FOLUSA (Friends of Libraries USA) has collected 101+ more terrific ideas and best practices to help you and your team connect with your community. Following an introduction which sets the stage for effective library/community partnerships, you'll discover ideas for innovative programs, successful fundraising, strategic advocacy, powerful public relations, memorable membership campaigns and more. As in the first book, each idea is presented with practical instructions, graphics, and implementation tools so you can adapt these programs successfully and creatively to match your library's specific needs and opportunities.
Grants and Grantwriting
See the list of resources at the Sources of Grants page with an accompanying Grantwriting page on the ALA Professional Tips Wiki -- which includes a link to Writing Grant Applications by ALA's Public Programs Office.
See the Programming Librarian website of the Public Programs Office, which provides two sorts of a continuously updated list, Library Awards and Grants by Deadline and Library Awards and Grants by Date Added. Also see the Grant Application Tips by Angela Hanshaw and the Grant Funding Sources by Chris Watkins.
A continuously updated list of library grant and grantwriting resources is compiled by this office at the social bookmarking web site, delicious.com, at:
U.S. Government web site Grants.gov is your source to find and apply for federal government grants. Grants.gov is a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards. Learn more about Grants.gov and determine if you are eligible for grant opportunities offered on the site.
The Foundation Center answers its 15 most frequently asked questions about getting grants and grantwriting on its web site; if your question doesn't appear or you'd like further clarification on an answer, you can Ask the Online Librarian of The Foundation Center, even chatting live with a librarian during scheduled hours on weekdays.
The first chapter, titled Grasping the Nuts and Bolts of Grant Writing is freely available as an Adobe Reader PDF file from the September 2011 Wiley publication, Grant Writing For Dummies, 4th Edition.
Corporate Giving Online (online database). New York: The Foundation Center.
Find donors that support nonprofit organizations and programs like yours through grants as well as in-kind donations of equipment, products, professional services, and volunteers. More than 3,700 detailed company profiles, over 2,700 company-sponsored foundations, nearly 1,400 direct corporate giving programs, awith nearly 100,000 recently awarded grants.
Foundation Directory Online (online database). New York: The Foundation Center.
Updated continually, Foundation Directory Online provides the most accurate details available on U.S. funders and their grants. Over 98,000 U.S. foundations and corporate donors, 1.7 million recent grants, and more than 400,000 key decision makers. Five plan levels with monthly, annual, and two-year subscription options. Up to four databases of grantmakers, companies, grants, and 990s. Up to 53 search fields including keyword searching—even across all recent IRS 990s.
Landau, Herbert B. Winning Library Grants: A Game Plan. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010.
Tightening budgets and ever-shrinking sources for funding have made winning grants more important than ever before. But where should a library grant novice begin? Right here, of course. Herbert B. Landau, the author of The Small Public Library Survival Guide: Thriving on Less and an experienced marketer and manager, offers a practical and comprehensive manual that guides you through grant fundamentals. His game plan will help you find relevant funders by analyzing eligibility criteria; write and prepare grant applications using the winning examples included, and evaluate outcomes to pave the way for success with future proposals; and increase your chances for success by using additional tactics, such as pre- and post-submission marketing, to "sell" your institution to a funder. Whether you're a newbie taking on the process for the first time or an experienced administrator looking to shore up finances, this book will help you find the dollars your library needs. See the American Libraries article by the author, "How to write proposals that work."
MacKellar, Pamela H. Writing Successful Technology Grant Proposals: A LITA Guide. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2012.
When you win a grant, you help your community by providing great technology-driven services. Technology grants provide the crucial funding to implement the latest technology projects so you can meet your community’s needs. But how can you write a successful grant proposal? How can you be sure that your technology grant will be approved? Here is the only book that covers technology grants for libraries. This comprehensive book on grants for libraries focuses on technology, technology planning, designing technology projects, specific sources and resources for technology grants, how to create a technology budget, and technology project success stories so you get real life examples of how others like you made their libraries stronger through technology grants. Pamela MacKellar shows you easy-to-understand graphics and examples that make writing proposals for technology projects simple and easy. You get chapters explaining how to design your project, work with a team to save time and money, and, of course, how to write and submit your project. This one-stop shop is both a guide and a resource, with sources for technology projects and helpful hints on finding the right technology grants for you. This is your step-by-step guide to turning your library into your community’s technology hub.
MacKellar, Pamela H., and Stephanie K. Gerding. Winning Grants: A How-to-Do-It Manual for Librarians with Multimedia Tutorials and Grant Development Tools. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2010.
Now presented in Neal-Schuman's newly revised How-To-Do-It series layout, Winning Grants gives you MacKellar's and Gerding's combined decades of successful grant-getting techniques in an accessible design so you can master these complex processes more easily. The authors' expertise is unique as they have been on all sides of the grant process as grant writers, reviewers, project coordinators, consultants, and trainers. They have maintained the popular Library Grants Blog for over five years, helping librarians find grant opportunities easily and at no cost.
Maxwell, Nancy Kalikow, ed. The ALA Big Book of Library Grant Money, Ninth Edition. Chicago: American Library Association, 2014.
This all-in-one resource for researching library and school grants is back in a new edition, and more useful than ever, offering refreshed content and even more guidance on locating grant funding sources. Using this guide, librarians, fundraisers, and researchers will find quick, convenient access to information on the most likely funding sources for libraries, including private foundations, corporate foundations, corporate direct givers, government agencies, and library and nonprofit organizations. Edited by Nancy Kalikow Maxwell, a grant writer with 35 years of experience, this edition includes more than 200 new entries.
Staines, Gail M.. Go Get That Grant!: A Practical Guide for Libraries and Nonprofit Organizations. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010.
Designed for libraries and nonprofit organizations, Go Get That Grant! includes information about types of grants available through government agencies and foundations, as well as how to locate funding opportunities.
Online Fundraising Tools
See a list of web sites and online networks that can assist with fundraising at the Online Fundraising Tools page on the ALA Professional Tips Wiki.
Corson-Finnerty, Adam. Cybergifts -- Using the Internet in Library Fund-Raising. Library Trends Vol. 48, no. 3 (Winter 2000): 619-33.
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.
Holt, Glen E. and George Horn. "Taking Donations in Cyberspace." The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances Vol. 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.
Materials listed in this fact sheet that are published by the American Library Association are available through the ALA Online Store; you can always see the most current lists of Budgeting, Finance and Fundraising as well as Advocacy titles.
For all other materials, contact the publishers directly, or check the collection at your local public library (enter your zip code into the box in the upper right corner of ALA's AtYourLibrary.org), either by visiting or by searching the WorldCat.org free online database of library catalogs nation-wide below:
NOTE: Previous versions of this fact sheet can be accessed via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine using the original URL <http://www.ala.org/library/fact24.html>. And this URL still works as a "shortcut" link to this web page.
Last updated: April 2014
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611-2795.