Library Fundraising: Make It Rain

As publicly funded entities, most libraries have found library fundraising to be a major topic of discussion and concern over the past several years. In talking with librarians and library directors, it is becoming clear that libraries are increasingly becoming dependent upon fundraising to provide for a portion of their annual budget, regardless of size or type. One public library director who I spoke with recently noted that 35% of the budget at her previous library was expected to come from fundraising, and in her current library, 15% of the budget is now expected to come from outside sources which was not the case 5 years ago.

It is also equally apparent that many librarians are neither comfortable nor familiar with how to go about raising funds for their libraries. If you are finding this to be the case, rest assured that you are not alone. The good news is that libraries have amazing stories to tell about how they touch the lives of those in their communities and bring their constituents together to provide opportunities for lifetime learning. By utilizing a little creativity and not being shy about sharing the impact that your library makes in your community, you may find that raising a little extra money isn’t as difficult as you might think.

By developing both short- and long-term strategies that help you align the goals of your library with what is needed to accomplish those goals you can begin to build the foundation of your fundraising platform. The development of a solid plan will allow you to better communicate the needs of your library and the desired outcomes in a way that can compel giving and create programs that can be repeated to develop an ongoing source of funding.

Our blog post, “Reimagining Fundraising: Improving Your Finances by Cultivating Relationships,” provides 8 points to keep in mind as you engage your community in the fundraising process. In addition, you will find references to other resources that you can use as you prepare your library fundraising plans.

Additional Resources


Janet Nelson

Janet Nelson

Janet is the former Director of Library Engagement and Solutions at Demco. She managed and developed relationships with key industry leaders to understand changing library trends and services.