Community Development : Friends, Foundations & Boards : Creating and Maintaining Library Foundations Introduction - 3. WHY A LIBRARY FOUNDATION?
Clearly, our library system is one of the local agencies facing severe cutbacks in funding ... This will result in a drastic cut in book purchasing, cuts in programs and reduction of staff ... working to reduce the effects of impending budgetary cuts on three programs ... specifically, the foundation is committed to raising $3,500 to provide fuel for the Mobile Library, $30,000 to fund the annual Family Reading Festival and $40,000 to add 2,000 children's books to the county libraries."
Ned Kellar, Executive Director, Brevard Library Foundation. www.brevardlibraryfoundation.org.
When the staff and board of a library make the decision to embark upon a serious and professional fundraising effort, they should assess their history and record in fundraising as well as the capability of their institution to solicit funds from the private sector and to then receive and steward such donations.
In some cases, the library will have received solicited and unsolicited donations. Because the library is a public institution, even private gifts have to be incorporated into the library's general revenue. Without a flexible, non-governmental, non-profit organization such as a library foundation, these privately sourced gifts may also have to be spent in accordance with the regulations governing the library and its governmental jurisdiction. The library faces the requirements of a publicly governed entity; this can make the expenditures of privately-sourced gifts difficult, both for the library and the donor. Compounding the complexities of mixing private and public funds, even when local codes do allow flexibility in spending privately- sourced monies, government officials may be tempted to expect these and similar gifts to be used instead of public funds, particularly in tough economic times.
Increasingly, public libraries have chosen to set up library foundations as their fundraising arms. They have done so for several important reasons which include:
Many libraries in Florida have expressed interest in setting up a library foundation to help fund construction projects or provide another source of revenue to pay for some library services because of shortfalls or cuts in public funding. The leadership and resources needed to put into motion a professional, respected and successful library foundation certainly must be considered before undertaking such an effort.
There are, inherent in library foundations, certain flexibilities and opportunities that distinguish this approach from two other approaches to fundraising: utilizing Friends of the Library groups and participating as a dedicated fund in a Community Foundation. (Brief discussions of Friends groups and Community Foundations will be found later in this resource guide.)
A library foundation:
The creation of a tax-exempt nonprofit library foundation will professionalize the library's ability to raise funds from the private sector. But obviously such a shift in the level of the library's commitment to fundraising will be a major developmental step that requires careful planning and organization.