KLA/MLA Day 2 – Thinking Outside the Stacks

Kathleen Morgan – kmorgan@lawrence.lib.ks.us, Lawrence public library Foundation director – outward facing functions of the library and Judy Keller, Jeffrey Byrne and Associates, Inc. – fundraising consultant for capital campaign and now a Board member | Presentation

Demystifying Fundraising.  Many libraries have foundations, but how do we pursue these gifts?

Lawrence Public Library’s Story: Ribbon cutting to newly renovated and expanded building after 10 years of hard work.  $19 million project with parking lot.  Library had to raise $1 million of the project, then $18 million bond.  Daunting task – a lot to raise.  Inexperienced Foundation board, with a project of this scale.  Hired a consultant and raised $1.2 million.

Most library capital campaign is $3-6 million range.  What advantages were there going into the campaign?

  • Everyone understands what a library is and does – intuitively know libraries are a good thing
  • Established leadership
  • High visibility
  • Mayor made this his/her issue and got Commission behind it
  • Library building needed it – 42 year old building and it looked it (Helped that Topeka’s library was much nicer in comparison)

Challenges:

  • Director resigned in early stages
  • Two lead architects left the firm in early stages of the campaign and raised questions about continuity and design
  • Highly visible and many loud opinions (on the local newspaper comment sections)  ‘chatter’

Issues:

  • Other campaigns going on in town
  • Economic climate – just starting to get out of recession
  • Private v. public funding mix
  • Obsolescence – why do we even still need libraries
  • Wealthy people are shopping at Amazon
  • Foundation’s personal interest – all board and senior leadership MUST contribute

Process:

  • Friend-raising – 2 fundraisers a year (indoor golf and after-hours at the library)  Get over stodgy reputation and raise awareness
  • Feasibility Study – Closer to campaign date – “smartest thing we did” – Expensive and adds to cost.  Internal and External examination of where you are in the community and what land-mines you may encounter.  Look at donor database, mailing list, etc. and interviewed community members, Board members, leadership team, etc. Provides a pre-game plan.

New Stories – name of the campaign – Six Criteria for Success at Jeffrey Byrne

  1. A case that is valid, realist and universally accepted.  A Case For Support.  Has to make sense.  3-5 page white pages left in draft form to test with significant prospective donors.  Vetting the Case Statement – think from a donors perspective.
  2. Commitment by organizational leaders – Support and endorse with their own financial support
  3. Involvement by community leaders – Editorial staff, community leader as a champion (with credibility with donors)
  4. Strategy to obtain pacesetting gifts – $100,000 to $200,000 lead gift, plus a $75 and 2 $50’s to make up top 30% of the campaign – proper cultivation.  Must come early in the campaign
  5. Proper planning – Planning before you enter public phase is MOST critical
  6. Proper timing – What about those other campaigns?  There will always be others (hospital, school, church) – the best time is WHEN you are ready

Tips and Tricks:

  • Be Bold – “We only get to do this every 42 years”  Go for it and do what needs to be done to reach your goal.  Library touches every life int eh community
  • Be Prepared – Do the feasibility study and be ready to address any concern that pops up during the campaign.  Have the answers before the questions are asked – do your homework.  Talk to enough people
  • Know Your Community – Look, feel message must be tailored to your community
  • Get Good Volunteers – Someone respected, trustworthy, positive and very hard working.  Fun when you like each other.  Get a diverse group – draw on those networks in town.  Steering committee should be broad
  • Follow the Process – There’s an order – channel Julia Child – start from the inside and work out.  Inner family first (Board, staff should give and participate first), and then to major donors and then foundations and businesses and go public for the last 30%.
  • Be Patient – it takes time and you should expect lulls.  Don’t skip a step.
  • Ask for a specific amount – Naming opportunities as the center piece to start conversation.
  • Don’t under ask – It can offend donors
  • Be Enthusiastic – the Donor can tell if you’re faking it.
  • Celebrate Accomplishments – weekly appreciation and thanks.  Parties for landmarks – Food, Beer and Wine
  • Be Grateful – Stack of Stories to track progress.  Stack of books, reminded visitors of what was going on, brought it out after first 70% was earned.
  • Can’t be Grateful Enough – Donor wall has “Citizens of Lawrence” as the biggest donor (bond issue)

Epilogue:

  • Set up for future success – Humanities grant on heels of successful capital campaign.  Raised another $1 mil for program endowment.  Matching grant – National Endowment for the Humanities.  Opens up other opportunities – faith, legitimacy and proven track record.
  • New Landmark Library

Questions:

  • New campaign – different donors, different focus, but still had naming opportunities but some same strategies and the matching piece was appealing to donors
  • Was the campaign cost rolled in?  Yes – 10% admin expenses and lead gift was 10%.  Ended up using 8.5%.
  • Still doing events?  One a year and alternate them – caddy stacks and then the adult party.  More manageable for staff and board.
  • After hours party – last one was ‘sneak a peak’ party.  Permits, fire marshals, stress!  Thursday 5-7 pm or a Saturday night at 7 after the library closes at 6.  Fun to drink in the library after dark – magical party space.
  • Adult supervision:  Tax credit opportunities for the donors (in KS and MO) and post-campaign fundraising you can grow the endowment and support perpetual sustainability.  Planned giving with an endowment campaign (state of the art).
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