Successful Fundraising Ideas for Your Library's Friends Group

ImageA request was posted on the WisPubLib discussion group, asking for creative ways that a library's Friends group can use to raise money to support programming.

A list of ideas that were received was compiled here, and below is a sample:

  • Our Friends sell engraved bricks starting at $100 up to $600 based on size (I think those prices are correct).  They are placed in a path leading to the library.
  • Our Friends team up with a local greenhouse.  The Friends pay $9.00 (used to be $8) each to buy coupons worth $12, which are sold to customer for $10 each.   So, the Friends make $1.50 per coupon and the customers save $2 per coupon.   It's easy for the staff, people who are going to buy plants anyway love that they are getting a bargain.   Last year, in our library that serves about 20,000, the Friends made $975 with this sale.
  • We have also done fundraisers at restaurants like Chilis who give 10% back when people bring in a voucher to the restaurant. The restaurant then cuts a check to the Friends after the 4-week fundraising period. I believe we raised $300 last time we had a fundraiser there.
  • Our Friends and Library Foundation have teamed up and run a very successful Wine Tasting for several years (we missed 2011).  This year they are planning a  “Wine and Stein,” event.  A local establishment offers  their dining hall and staff, if we purchase the food and beverages from them.  We have many organizations and merchants in the area that donate items for a silent auction and raffle.  Volunteers run everything the day of the event – from asking for donations months in advance, recruiting volunteers, selling raffle tickets onsite, to pouring wine, to announcements and of course all the pre-planning, set up and clean up.  The first year we raised $3000, second and third year brought $5-7,00 and the best year was $10,000.  This is a very profitable fund raiser for a half-day event.
  • We are finishing up our mini golf course for "Tee off @ the library".  You can rent it when we are done. Also, we are doing a Wine/chocolate Tasting Event.  Lake Mills Winery is bringing their own wines.  It will be a semi formal night.  $15 per person $25 per couple.  We shall see. One of the best and easiest things I have ever done is to buy one of those plastic parking meter toys.  Our Friends group gets about $80 per quarter year.  For doing nothing.  I know it's silly, but it's easy.
  • I have worked with other groups--not just Friends--who had some very successful Burger and Bean dinners with pie raffles.  They are a lot of work, but you can just do the pie raffle with a program on home cooking or something.  Or, do one of the Edible Book contests, and then raffle off the Edible Books.  That would fun and great newsworthy hoopla. (they are on black out right now) and closer to home:
  • An idea I would share that our foundation is working on for next winter: We are going to have a miniature golf tournament in the library. Local companies and groups can sponsor holes, allowing for promotion and creativity. We’ll also offer prizes for attire, scores, and other things people do at golf tourneys. Just a thought, but it may suit you. There are companies that do this for a fee, but they decided to cut out the middle man and really let the sponsors go crazy with creative ideas.
  • Our Friends group has a very successful Cookie Walk the day after Thanksgiving held in conjunction with our town’s Christmas Walk.  We net about $2000 each year on that one.  We’ve also held a Wine Tasting for about 9 years now that is also very successful.  We hold this one the first weekend of October (appealing to leaf lookers that come up by us as well as locals).  For one entry ticket price, guests get wine & beer samples, hot and cold appetizers and one free raffle ticket.  In addition we offer additional raffle tickets for sale to win baskets and items donated by the Friends and local merchants.  This year we also added a silent auction with various items donated by Friends members.  This year’s Wine Tasting was our most successful yet with a net of a little over $5000.  The Friends also have dues.  Plus, my assistant librarian and her husband are wonderful nature photographers.  They have been taking their photos and creating note cards, calendars and prints.  The Friends sell them and keep the profits.  We also created a Boulder Junction History book 10 years ago that we still sell.  Also, our used book sale is held every Tuesday in the summer in conjunction with our Lions Flea Market in our parking lot.  The combined fundraising efforts net the Friends about $10,000 a year.

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