Thinking Like a Non-Profit
by Terry Tyson, Executive Vice President, Communication Services
We all know that library budgets are shrinking these days. Libraries need to work harder and smarter to plug the holes in programming, collections and staffing that budget cuts create.
The Annual Appeal
Here are some simple steps you can take to m aximize your success in establishing an annual appeal for your library. First, create a compelling letter that includes several brief stories about how your library makes a difference in your community. Use actual stories if you’ve got them. If not, create a story based on positive feedback you’ve received from your library patrons. Make sure you ask for support at least three times in your letter.
Personalize the letter with an individual address and salutation and create a teaser for the outside of the envelope. These tips can improve the chances that the recipient will actually open and read it. And, if you can find volunteers who will hand address your envelopes, so much the better!
Always include a response envelope and a response device. It’s great to have the response device personalized as well to cut down on the amount of work the potential donor has to do. If you can’t do that, include a long flap self-addressed remittance envelope—which doubles as a response envelope and response device. The recipient can easily use it to provide the necessary information, donate by check or credit card, and mail back. Don’t bother to include return postage. It really doesn’t improve the return rate enough to justify the expense.
Hone your message carefully. The more compelling you make it, the better your response rate will be. Commit to making the annual appeal an integral part of your overall fund raising plan. It’s unlikely that you will realize a good response the first year, but stick with it. It takes several years to build a successful direct mail campaign that makes a significant difference to your bottom line. In the meantime, you are keeping in touch with your patrons and reinforcing for them what a valuable resource they have in their library.
Donor Recognition Opportunities
Special Events and Merchandizing
No matter what type of fund raising your library undertakes, it is crucial to thank all donors publicly, privately, and often. The mechanisms you establish to acknowledge your donors today will go a long
You probably know about Communication Services because of our work to pass library votes across the state. Bet you didn’t know, we also specialize in direct mail fundraising and other aspects of development. We can be reached at 518-438-2826 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Samples of our work can be found atwww.commservices.net.