Three BIG Fundraising Words
Securing donations for your library or support organization is not always easy, and for some, it’s not always fun. There are plenty of ways in which successful fundraising is conducted, but ultimately it boils down to just three big words: interest, ability, and opportunity.
People give to organizations and charities in which they have an interest. Sometimes interest is expressed in use. A library user may give an extra gift to support the library. But interest can also be broader. For instance, many major donors value the public library as an institution but may not use it. Also, the interest may be second-hand. If your friend Joe or Martha is interested in the library, you might make a gift because of their interest. Finally, interest can be generated or created through PR or marketing efforts, or through new activities, such as a new line of programming (for example, “Books and Bars,” targeting 20-somethings.)
People who don’t have the resources to make a gift generally don’t. Or at least not a large gift. Unlike library services where the target may be all residents, effective and efficient fundraising targets only those individuals or organizations capable of making a gift. Thus, one of the challenges for public library fundraising is developing methods, most often through board and other networks, to identify potential donors.
People only give if they know they can. The library, or affiliated Friends or Foundation, needs to provide opportunities for giving. Without overdoing it, multiple opportunities in multiple forms (annual campaign, special event, memorial gift, etc.) should be offered to prospective donors. To make this effective and not overloading donors, it is helpful to create an annual fundraising calendar. It is also important to remember that studies show that it is the giver of smaller, consistent gifts who is most likely to be an individual who leaves a gift to your Library in their will.
Focusing your fundraising on INTEREST, ABILITY, and OPPORTUNITY greatly increases your likelihood of receiving a donation. While adherence to these three BIG words doesn’t guarantee a gift, they can help you think through your fundraising strategy. Without all three of these concepts in play, people are unlikely to give, and understanding how your fundraising activities address interest, ability, and opportunity will move your development efforts forward.