Making a Commitment to ALTAFF

rod gauvin by Rod Gauvin
ALTAFF President

Over the past 10 months, the board and the staff of ALTAFF made excellent progress against objectives we set for ourselves at the beginning of my term as president. While the list of accomplishments is simply too long to list here, I’m happy to report on some important highlights.

We are proud of the work we did to simplify structure and bylaws. Good effort went in to soliciting new corporate memberships, with six new partners added and $10,000 earned in new contributions. Membership activities were considerable, and focused on bringing back members who lapsed when we created ALTAFF.

One area where we needed to reset our objective was in the area of launching a capital campaign. It was suggested — and there was strong support at the board level — that ALTAFF should create a permanent endowment fund that could be used for major initiatives. Experts will confirm that no capital campaign should be undertaken until a proper feasibility study confirms that adequate support will be there from the potential donor community.

Indeed, our assessment was that a feasibility study was required. It was also clear that such a study would be expensive (in the range of $20,000 to $25,000). Given the weak financial reserves of ALTAFF, we concluded that we were in no position to fund such an initiative, even though the cause was right.

A small team was organized to identify potential donors who might underwrite this feasibility study. We arrived at a short list, and agreed to approach those capable of financial support who also had a history of similar participation. Unfortunately, this effort was not fruitful. Reluctantly, we set aside the capital campaign for the near term.

The unintended effect of this initiative was to draw closer attention to our finances and the support we are receiving from ALA. We also noted that we were not making any request of our board, our members, or past board members of FOLUSA or ALTA who may be in a position to make a charitable contribution that is not tied to a major capital campaign. Most nonprofits expect contributions from their board members as a matter of standard practice.

Accordingly, we made a verbal request in our last board meeting at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Diego, and have followed up in writing with all board members.

To date, we have raised nearly $3,000 from these efforts. This past month, we sent letters to former FOLUSA board members asking them to make a charitable contribution to ALTAFF. A similar letter will be sent to former ALTA board members.

These funds will go into an operating plan, and will not fund a capital endowment. This will help to reduce our operating loss currently funded by ALA.

To those of you who have already contributed, I thank you for your generosity and support of the mission of ALTAFF. For those of you who we will contact in the upcoming weeks, I hope you will respond as generously as your colleagues have already done.

I continue to be inspired by the passionate commitment of ALTAFF members, and those who advocate for our nation’s libraries. Thanks for your support during my term as president, and for your considerable championship and enthusiasm for libraries!

Yours for libraries,

Rod Gauvin
ALTAFF President

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