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.
Huntsville Library Foundation (AL)
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.