Category Archives: Trustees and Foundations

Strategic Planning for the Folks who Raise the Money

Reposted with permission from Library Strategies

Friends and foundations need a plan as much as the library does. All too often, however, these organizations operate from year to year with no direction or plan in place. So, it’s time to think about development planning!

Development planning is strategic planning for the support organizations that raise funds for their libraries. A development plan articulates the activities an organization engages in (advocacy, annual campaigns, special events, capital campaigns, etc.) and establishes goals and strategies, or actions, within each of these focus areas.

A good development plan starts out by defining the Library’s financial needs. These are usually presented by the Library Director and could be anything from a summer reading program to a new library building. Or, they could be public funding needs, which would be addressed by a political advocacy effort.  Starting with an understanding of the Library’s needs, gives direction and context so that the Friends or foundation can determine how it can help meet these needs through their development activities.

The development plan should also include goals around the Friends or foundation’s structure and its effectiveness. How is the board organized (committee structure)? How are new board members recruited? Do you have a board orientation program? Including board development goals will ensure that your organization stays vibrant and effective.

The big benefit of development planning is that it brings your board together to review your current activities and commit to goals within each activity. Often, it leads to adding new activities, such as a planned giving program or public awareness (raising the visibility of the Friends or foundation). The process of development planning focuses your support organization’s board on what it needs to do and how it’s going to be successful in its efforts.

A development planning process is fairly straight-forward and typically includes these steps:

  • Conduct a capacity assessment of the Friends or foundation. Identify what’s working and what needs to be fine-tuned or completely overhauled? This is usually done by a consultant who conducts interviews with the Library Director and three or four board members to assess the organization’s current activities and determine where there are opportunities to build capacity.
  • Engage in a planning retreat (a half-day works great!) where Board members critically look at the organization’s activities and establish concrete goals and strategies – and determine whether new activities should be added. The Library Director should definitely be a part of this planning process. If your library has both a Friends group and a foundation, it’s helpful to include a representative from the other support organization in your planning retreat to ensure that each group understands its own unique role in supporting the library.
  • Once you’ve established your goals and strategies, view the plan in terms of three years. What do you want to accomplish in year one of the plan (priorities) and what will your three-year goals be?
  • Identify who is responsible for each action in the plan. Is it an individual champion, a committee, staff, or the board as a whole? Without someone, or a specific group, assigned to move the action forward it’s easy to assume it will ‘just get done.’

Development planning is a truly valuable process that moves an organization from having great ideas to actually accomplishing great things in support of your library.

Six Great Ideas for Library Partnerships

Reposted with permission from Library Strategies

Partnerships have great potential to expand your library’s capacity to offer more, reach broader audiences, and leverage your resources. As libraries continually seek new ways to stretch their budgets, partnering is a valuable option to consider.

There are several natural partnerships that many libraries have formed:

1) Literacy Partnerships. Partner with your local literacy organization – be it a children’s literacy program or adult program. These organizations are on the frontline, bringing critical services to your community. They are ripe for partnerships to reach a broad audience (including many non-users) with resources the library has to offer. This is a partnership that can have a huge impact on your community at minimal cost to either organization.

2) Nonprofit Partnerships. Does your community have local music or theater groups? Is there a genealogical society in your city? A food co-op? History society? Museum? A writer’s group? Human rights organization? These organizations can easily provide programs in your library that draw audiences of all ages and interests and stretch the resources of all partners (for specific examples of joint programming, visit:

3) Age-Appropriate Partners. Trivia groups are hotter than ever and so are targeted book groups. Consider co-sponsoring trivia nights or book clubs in a bar or restaurant to attract millennials to your library programs. (

4) Partners with a Purpose. Many individuals are finding new ways and new places to work. Partner with your local Small Business Association to offer classes on starting a new business, developing business skills, creating a business cooperative, and more.

5) Business/Corporate Partnerships. Local businesses or national corporations love partnerships. If you look for the win/win opportunity for your library and a potential business, it’s a great opportunity for a valuable partnership. For example, many libraries reach out to corporate sponsors to fund their bookmobiles, offering the opportunity to “wrap” the bookmobile with a business’ logo and branding.

6) DIY Workshops. Building on the idea of business partnerships, lots of libraries are offering Saturday DIY (Do It Yourself) classes on everything from growing seed gardens (sponsored by a local nursery) – to learning to knit (sponsored by a knitting supply store) to bicycle repair (provided by a bike shop). These classes offer practical skills and allow local businesses to strut their stuff while being good community partners.

These are just a few partnership ideas… the possibilities are pretty limitless. If you’d like to begin to build community partnerships, do some brainstorming with your library staff or your support organization (Friends and foundation) for potential capacity building and resource leveraging partnerships.

One side benefit to partnerships is that community foundations and other funders particularly like these relationships as they see that your library is being savvy and resourceful in working in the community and maximizing funding!

Webinar Offers Tips to Celebrate Friends of Libraries Week

Plan now for National Friends of Libraries Week, Oct. 15-21, 2017. United for Libraries will host a free webinar on “Celebrating National Friends of Libraries Week: Promoting Your Group and Library” on Tuesday, July 25. Although registration is full, a recording of this webinar will be available by July 28 on the United for Libraries website.

This webinar will offer ideas on how to celebrate the week within your group, library, and community. Hear from Friends of the Glendale (Ariz.) Public Library President Char Sharp, whose group won a National Friends of Libraries Week Award in 2016 for its activities. Learn about the ALA Store’s new customizable products designed specifically for Friends.


Fundraising Tasks During the Summer Doldrums

Summer may be a quiet time in the world of fundraising.