Beyond the Book Sale
In recent years, libraries must rely on many other methods beyond a book sale to raise funds for their library. Fundraising is a fact of life for most libraries in this age of budget cuts. Fundraising events raise public awareness and visibility of the library in addition to raising money. Some might think fundraising is difficult, but it gets easier the more you do it and creativity helps.
As the director of a small library serving less than six thousand residents, I have sold chocolate bars, calendars, candles, bookmarks, pens, and all types of craft kit items on the circulation desk counter. People like chocolate and the library made seventy dollars profit from our first chocolate basket. I now make gift baskets (four or five baskets) several times a year to raise funds for the library. I also make chocolate baskets to raffle for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and other times throughout the year. A library being associated with chocolate is not a bad thing.
Avalon Library also does an annual flea market and craft sale to raise funds. In addition, we also do a wine tasting twice a year which generates several hundred dollars profit for the library. Our bake sale is popular and we now have a bake sale on a quarterly basis to raise money for new materials. In addition, we do an annual Letters from Santa fundraiser and the letters are handwritten by a library employee. Last year, we mailed over 100 letters to about twenty different states. Last year, I made Christmas Wreaths and sold them for $10 each as a library fundraiser.
We have also Mother Daughter teas, and story-time themed breakfasts based on popular television characters such as Dora the Explorer, Blue Clues, Bob the Builder, and Prince/Princess themes. This type of event is more to raise visibility of the library more than making a profit. The children and parents really like enjoy the event and the library staff have fun with the event. The Avalon Library also does Create a Craft Birthday Parties for children where parents supply the food and we provide the fun. The most popular theme is Princess/Prince and we have done birthday parties with a theme related, crafts, and stories for up to 25 children. We also just started advertising birthday parties for older adults with bingo, trivia games, and nostalgia games along with crafts such as scrap booking.
There are countless ways to raise funds for your library including book signings, art show, car wash, Christmas ornament or craft sale, library cookbook sale, craft sale, fashion show, magazine sale, Mother/Daughter Tea, pancake breakfast, plant sale, sale of library promotional items, silent auctions, white elephant sale.
Another alternative to fundraising is to have a business or businesses sponsor something specific for your library. Every year, we ask local businesses to sponsor the cost of a magazine subscription and in return, we place their business logo and name on the outside cover of the magazine. We have received new magazines subscription using this method, saved the library money, and the business receives low cost advertising for an entire year. Businesses can also sponsor a specific collection of books in the library such as a small business section.
Fundraising requires a lot of work but it is worth the effort. It does not take a large staff either. I am the only full time employee at my library and have raised funds with the help of several part-time employees and volunteers. The possibilities for fund raising are endless with creativity and an open mind along with passion to bring more funds to create more programs and materials for your library and patrons.
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