Resource Development &
Library Strategies helps libraries and library support organizations build a culture that embraces fundraising and philanthropy. We can help you boost annual giving, explore the feasibility of a capital campaign, launch an advocacy effort, or make your friends/foundation more effective. We instill understanding of the vital connection between philanthropic investment and data that prove your value, relevancy and impact. We also help you develop and communicate your value proposition to advocate for greater support. Browse our services below.
Libraries are getting better about making sure that they have strategic plans to guide them but, unfortunately, library support organizations (Friends & foundations) rarely have their own plans. It’s time to think about development planning!
Development planning is essentially the process of creating a strategic plan, but the focus is on articulating how your foundation or Friends can be most effective at providing support to your library.
A development planning process usually includes the following steps:
- Interviews with key stakeholders to assess your support organization’s current activities and capacity for growth;
- A facilitated planning retreat;
- Drafting a three-year development plan.
The process itself engages board members in creating a shared vision for how they can be more effective and links their organization’s activities directly to the library’s own strategic goals.
The players who engage in development planning can include the Board of the fundraising organization, the Library Director (possibly key management staff), library Trustees, and members of other support organizations.
Development planning usually takes 2-3 months depending on the availability of participants.
At the conclusion of the development planning process, the Friends or foundation will have a plan that articulates their most effective structure (board size and composition, committee structure, up-to-date by-laws, etc.). The plan focuses on activities (advocacy, annual campaign, planned giving, special events, corporate sponsorship, and more) and establishes goals, strategies, and responsibilities.
Having a development plan in place is the difference between having a well-intentioned fundraising organization and one that really delivers valuable support to your library.
Library Strategies conducts valuable feasibility studies to help libraries determine the potential level of private funding that can be attracted to support a capital building project. Because of our deep knowledge of libraries and the role they play in their communities, we are able to anticipate and address the tough questions that inevitably arise during capital campaigns. Questions such as:
- With everyone using the Internet, why should we build or renovate libraries?
- I already pay taxes for public services. Why should I contribute to a capital campaign?
- I haven’t been in a library in years. Are they still relevant in our communities?
Our approach to feasibility studies includes presenting the library vision to 20-30 potential major donors and community leaders in individual, face-to-face interviews. We develop a graphically designed presentation of the project, along with its budget and anticipated funding sources. During the interview, we will ask potential donors to share their opinions of the proposed project, library leadership, and their potential participation in a future campaign.
Library Strategies works closely with the Feasibility Study Steering Committee to help articulate the vision, confirm the desired goal, identify potential major donors, and assist with inviting those donors to participate in the study. We have found that when people are asked by their fellow community members, they are more likely – even enthusiastic – to participate in an interview.
Feasibility studies generally take three to four months to complete, with the most time required for scheduling interviews.
After compiling the results of the interviews, Library Strategies consultants develop a report of the findings and include recommendations for campaign success. We will make recommendations regarding:
- An achievable campaign goal
- Ideal campaign leadership
- Challenges to address prior to launching
- Features of the project that resonate with donors
- Ideal timing and positioning of the project
The final report will also include a framework for the potential campaign, including a timeline and identification of next steps.
Conducting successful capital campaigns requires careful planning, strong leadership, and consistent follow-through. Library Strategies provides guidance to libraries throughout the entire campaign process, from initial planning to final celebration.
Capital campaigns involve two phases: The Quiet Phase and the Public Phase. The Quiet Phase, involves individual solicitation of major donors by campaign volunteers. This is a critical part of any campaign, as up to 80-90% of the campaign goal is secured in the Quiet Phase. The Public Phase occurs when the campaign is announced and solicitation of the general public begins with events, direct mail, social media, and other broad-based channels.
Campaign counsel in the Quiet Phase includes the following activities:
- Develop campaign plan, timeline, and budget
- Recruit Campaign Chair(s) and Campaign Committee members
- Write and design the Case Statement and all campaign collateral
- Determine campaign management and communication plan
- Clarify roles and responsibilities/hire campaign staff if necessary
- With Campaign Committee, identify and qualify donor prospects
- Develop cultivation and solicitation strategies
- Provide solicitation training and assist with solicitations if necessary
- Manage all communication and meetings of Campaign Committee
- Provide guidance throughout the campaign to address issues and ensure progress
Campaign counsel in the Public Phase includes the following activities:
- Provide content and design of marketing and solicitation activities
- Assist with event planning
- Develop social media content and design
- Assist with donor recognition activities
- Provide guidance and lay groundwork for future fundraising activities
Library Strategies helps recruit Campaign Chair(s) and Campaign Steering Committee members and works closely with them throughout the Campaign.
Depending on the size of the goal, capital campaigns typically take between 18 and 24 months to complete, including the feasibility study.
The outcome of a well-run campaign is the achievement of the campaign goal and an engaged donor base that is now invested in the future of the Library.
A capacity assessment is a 360–degree evaluation of a fundraising organization’s readiness and ability to do comprehensive fundraising. It starts with a review of the organization’s by-laws, financial records, Board and committee structure, newsletters and annual reports. Next we conduct a series of interviews with all key stakeholders of the organization: Foundation/Friends Board members, key library staff and Library Trustees.
Library Strategies presents a comprehensive report of our findings with specific recommendations for becoming a more robust fundraising organization, including:
- Board engagement and composition
- Committee structure
- Relationship with the Library
- Communications (both internal and external)
- Fundraising activities;
- Strategic and development plans
The report is presented to the organization’s Board of Directors who make decisions on implementing the recommendations.
The entire Board of the fundraising organization needs to be involved in this process, as well as key staff and the Library Director, plus a representative from the Library’s Trustees.
A thorough assessment process takes approximately 3 months and involves two on-site visits by the fundraising consultant: one for interviews and one to present the report.
At the conclusion of this process, the fundraising organization will have a blueprint for future fundraising activities and strategies for becoming a stronger, more focused organization. A new Committee of the Board should be appointed to oversee the implementation of all recommendations. Library Strategies consultants can also work with your fundraising organization after the assessment to ensure that the capacity building is successful.
We help clarify the roles and responsibilities of your Friends and Foundation, including articulating where these roles intersect, and build strong relationships between these organizations. We can also help facilitate a merger if this model best supports your library.
Library Boards are critical to the success of today’s libraries. They provide the strategic direction for the library, ensure adequate resources, supervise the Director, and are ears and eyes in the community. Friends and Foundation Boards may provide increasingly valuable private resources in support of the Library.
Yet most Board members receive little training on their roles, responsibilities, or positive approach to governance and management. In some cases, the Board(s) are not supporting or governing the Library effectively and struggle with moving forward.
A Board development process can help Boards understand their role, but also define positive next steps to become more proactive supporters and governors of the library. Board development may also be a helpful first step leading into a more comprehensive strategic plan, fundraising/development plan, or even a capital campaign. Board development is usually a short process, typically consisting of initial discussions, a board retreat, and a follow-up report which includes recommended next steps.
The players who engage in board development can include the Library Board/Library Trustees and Library Director, as well as the Boards of the Library’s Friends and Foundation.
Board development may consist solely of a half- or full-day workshop or retreat, or include additional planning or consultation work that may take 2-3 months.
Board development is tailored specifically to the needs of the board or boards involved. The boards advance their knowledge of best practices, their roles and responsibilities, and emerge with a short list of action steps to improve their effectiveness. Typical areas of improvement are in board governance, management and ethics, advocacy, roles and responsibilities, and/or fundraising.
Successful boards are critical to building a successful, community-oriented library. Continuing board development, especially tailored to the library’s needs, greatly enhances the functioning and effectiveness of the board and library.
Sometimes libraries need to advocate for sustainable public funding. This training includes developing an effective advocacy platform, preparing lobbying fact sheets and position papers, making your library’s case to political decision-makers, and much more. Library Strategies has worked with organizations around the United States and Europe in creating stronger advocacy efforts to support their library systems. If you would like a custom advocacy training session for your library or library organization, please contact us.
Huntsville Library Foundation (AL) – Development Planning
The Huntsville Library Foundation has a great Board in place and staff to support its activities. The Library is also fortunate to have a strong, successful Friends organization. The Foundation wanted to take its organization to a new level of growth and plan for future activity.
Library Strategies conducted interviews with the Foundation’s Executive Director, its Board Chair and other members of the Board, and the Library Director. The purpose of the interviews was to determine the Library’s funding needs and identify how the Foundation could best support the Library – and how it should operate in collaboration with the Friends. Our consultants presented our findings from the interviews at a planning session with the Foundation Board, the Library Director and the Chair of the Friends Board.
The Foundation created a three-year plan that included expanding its capacity by recruiting new Board members and creating a committee structure to support the work of the Board. The Board identified strategies for creating an advocacy committee and preparing a platform to present to political decision-makers in support of increasing the Library’s operational budget. Goals were created to increase the success of the annual campaign and meet new financial goals with its signature fundraising event. The plan also included implementing a planned giving program to provide long-term private support to the Library.
Tulsa Library Trust (OK) – Capital Campaign
The Tulsa City-County Library drastically needed to make improvements to their Central Library location. The massive overhaul required updating building infrastructure, fixing deficient mechanical and electrical systems, improving the inefficient use of space, and removing materials now considered hazardous. The renovation would also include entirely new features to better serve the changing needs of customers. The project was estimated to cost nearly $50 million, yet only $15 million in public funds were made available. The Tulsa Library and Trust were tasked with raising the rest.
Library Strategies was hired to conduct a feasibility study in addition to providing campaign counsel that would identify the willingness and potential of the community to provide $33 million in private funding. Library Strategies conducted 36 face-to-face interviews with potential major donors, presenting them with a graphic illustration – not only of the building – but of the vision for what a new Central Library could bring to the downtown area.
The feasibility study identified potential major donors and indicated strong support for the renovation of the Central Library. Library Strategies then helped the Tulsa Library develop a detailed capital campaign strategy to secure those identified donations and cultivate potential new donors to participate in the campaign. Library Strategies also served as campaign counsel for one year to help strategize and identify donor prospects.
As a result of interviews conducted during the feasibility study process, Library Strategies was able to nurture and guide the Tulsa Campaign Steering Committee to a successful engagement of the lead donor and other significant major donors. The campaign was so successful and well received by the philanthropic community, that the public phase, which is now underway, is expected to exceed its goal.
The Friends & Foundation of St. Helena Public Library (CA)
In 2014, Library Strategies worked with the Friends of the St. Helena Public Library and the Library’s Foundation to merge the two organizations. The new organization, called the Friends & Foundation, took six months to build a new Board, establish its mission and hire a part-time Executive Director. Once the new Board was in place, the Friends & Foundation needed to plan for how it was going to focus its activities to attain its vision to “fully fund the Library through public support and private fundraising.”
The Friends & Foundation called on Library Strategies to work with them again in January 2015. Our consultants conducted interviews with the new Executive Director and several Board members to assess the new organization’s capacity. How much could it take on? – What challenges were they going to face? How could the organization structure itself to be successful? The conclusion was that the Friends & Foundation were ready to create a three-year development plan. Our consultants facilitated a day-long planning session with the Friends & Foundation’s Board and staff, and the Library Director.
The Board created a long-term vision and goals that addressed committee structure and staffing, public awareness, advocacy, annual campaigns and creating a signature fundraising event. Library Strategies consultants drafted the three-year development plan and helped the Board identify priorities for the first year.