Saturday, March 29, 2008

Let’s Get Married! Bringing Friends and Foundations Together to Raise More Money

Donna Bero, Executive Director of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, introduced the program and gave an overview of the goals of the program. Friends group started in a fairly traditional way in 1966. When new SFPL Main was needed, the Friends did not think that they could raise the money so they created a foundation. After the building was complete, the two organizations merged over the course of six years. Now, they raise money for capital projects ($16 million for furniture), provide programmatic support, do advocacy for the library, and have their own book operation including two stores and a major sale each year. They do literary events.

Anita Duckor, Executive Director of the Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library The Friends group was founded in 1949, over 5,000 members. They were born out of the need for advocacy. This year raised $450,000 for MPL. The Friends have evolved from being an adjunct to being essential. Raise significant capital dollars and have two book stores. The one consistent thread has been advocacy. Administer three key cultural programs: Talk of the Stack (current literature); People’s University (lecture series by university professors); Classic Film Series. Now under a new system with the consolidation of Hennepin County Library and the Minneapolis Public Library.

Peter Pearson, President of the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, started with jokes about St. Paul and the relationship with Minneapolis. Friends was founded in 1945 by the Library Director. It was a typical Friends group. Kept the same feel until 1973, when Dr. John Briggs wife fell ill, and Friends brought books to her. He left his estate to the Friends. The estate was worth over $2 million at the time. This caused the change from a traditional group to more like a foundation. They worked with the Community Foundation closely. This worked until 1991 when there were cuts. Peter hired in 1992 to increase the endowment and advocate. The endowment is now $15 million and there is a staff of 6. They do fund raising, grant writing, capital campaigns, planned giving along with corporate sponsorships. They do a great deal of advocacy, the budget has increased every year. They also do programming, until recently it was 100%, new director wants more staff involvement. Not physically located in the Library, because it makes it clear that the Friends are not library staff.

There is a white paper posted on the PLA Conference site.

Three models:

  • Stand alone Friends Groups
  • Stand alone Foundation
  • Merged Friends and Foundation

All three represent the latter, so the presentation may have a bias.

Most stand alone Friends groups do not have staff. Foundations often recruit prominent people to serve on the board, Library Foundations will move to a staff model There can be some turf issues, the groups need to share databases. How big donors are treated.. There is only one Board.

There is clear communication to donors. They do a membership campaign and other fundraising coordination. The broader mission attracts a broader membership. There is name recognition confusion. They are free-standing and can sometimes seem to independent of the Library. Joke: “The average age of our Friends group is deceased!”

It takes resources to support the organization as well as the library.

Gave examples from each organization.

Minneapolis: in 2000 referendum passed with 67% of the voto. Had three trustees appointed to the Friends Board. An environment of competing institutions, Raised $16.5 million. Actually did as individual library campaigsn Notes and slides are on the PLA web site.

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