How to Make This Your Most Successful Library Giving Day

Library Giving Day is an international one-day fundraising event that could significantly boost your library’s fundraising potential. How can you plan a more successful Library Giving Day? Inspire your supporters by creating a campaign that engages your community, promotes your brand, and encourages generous donations.

5 Million Reasons to Embrace Library Giving Day

Created in 2019 by the Seattle Public Library Foundation, Library Giving Day was designed not only to increase financial support to local public libraries but also to raise awareness for the many programs local libraries provide to their communities. This year, Library Giving Day is happening on April 4.

In the four years since its inception, Library Giving Day has produced impressive results: 450 library organizations have reported a total of more than $5 million raised. In 2022 alone, Library Giving Day reported 12,168 total donations adding up to $1.6 million, with an average gift of $134.

Whether this is your first time participating in Library Giving Day or you want to improve your strategy this time around, read on for simple tips to develop a compelling marketing campaign.

Plan a Simple Two-Day Library Giving Day Strategy 

Focus your marketing approach on two complementary components: consistent messaging coupled with a seamless donor experience. That donor experience is all about having a strong online campaign page that encourages your supporters to set up a fundraising page quickly and easily. Need inspiration? Check out what other libraries have done.

Library Giving Day branding should be used across all channels to give a sense of legitimacy to the campaign. Use consistent logos and messaging:

  • In all campaign emails and social media posts
  • On your main library website and your Library Giving Day fundraising page
  • On all printed collateral

Before rolling out your public campaign, make sure your team is on the same page. Develop a standard Library Giving Day pitch and train your staff and volunteers to share it. Host a tutorial about the campaign page for your team to prepare them to answer questions about giving online. Encourage staff, volunteers, and supporters to create buzz about the event. Word of mouth can be powerful promotion.

Download the Toolkit

Good news: Library Giving Day has created a free online toolkit to help you plan your campaign. This includes those event-specific logos to use in all your marketing as well as guidelines and samples of donor engagement strategies.

Show the Impact of All Libraries

You know all the great things libraries bring to communities—now make sure potential donors do, too. Lead with the data, sharing statistics about literacy, such as:

Don’t stop at the statistics. Connect the dots and remind supporters that libraries promote literacy by offering free access to literature for all community members.

Share Your Library’s Specific Story

Library Giving Day is your opportunity to spotlight the range of services your library provides for your community. In your Library Giving Day campaign, make the public aware that you do more than just loan out books:

  • Free access to internet-equipped computers
  • Lending of digital media
  • Storytime for children
  • Classes or social gatherings for adults

Highlighting how much you provide for the community shows potential donors the ways their contributions will be used for good.

Set Your Fundraising Goal

Use data from past campaigns to establish your fundraising goal and identify potential donors. Be realistic. Donors want to feel successful when supporting you; setting a goal too high for your library will only hurt your campaign. Target donors who have given to your library over the past three years.

Remind supporters that every donation is appreciated, no matter the size. And keep in mind that simply capturing a patron’s information can prove valuable for future campaigns.

If there is a specific program for which you are raising funds, make it known. For example, a library in Canada focused its Library Giving Day campaign on a Toy Lending Library. Supporters may be more inclined to give if they know exactly how their donations will be used and they will stay more engaged after they donate if they’re checking on the project’s progress.

One quick win for your campaign is gift matching. Include a reminder for donors to submit their donations to their places of employment for an easy force multiplier.

Email and Social Media Strategies to Connect with Donors

Before asking for donations the day of the event, prime your audience by making them aware of Library Giving Day well in advance. The Library Giving Day toolkit suggests promoting the campaign in the following ways:

  • Taglines on receipts
  • Banners and messages on public computer screens and displays
  • Event branding on your library website

Your website and social media efforts should amplify the same message. Commit to a timeline to ensure your digital efforts are in sync and to stay connected to your audience throughout the day. Plan your fundraising emails and schedule your posts in advance so you can focus on executing the campaign and being visible in the moment.

Day-of Communications

Who knows storytelling better than a library staff? Capture the imagination of your potential donors by including “themed stories” in your posts to personalize your appeal. These should be true success stories with local characters and positive outcomes to showcase the amazing work your library is doing for the community.

No matter the “theme,” each time you post or email on Library Giving Day, state your mission. This helps anyone who sees your message understand who you are. A day-of communication timeline could look something like this:

8 a.m.

Kickoff Library Giving Day post and email

  • Share your first themed story
  • Share your goal for Library Giving Day

11 a.m.

Second social media post

  • Share a second themed story
  • Provide an update on raised funds for Library Giving Day

3 p.m.

Third social media post and email

  • Share a third themed story
  • Provide an update on raised funds for Library Giving Day

7 p.m.

Fourth social media post

  • Post a reminder that Library Giving Day is almost over
  • Give an update on raised funds for Library Giving Day

Day-After Communications

Your work is not over once Library Giving Day ends. A timely and heartfelt thank-you to your donors is essential. The next morning, create a post and email that includes the following:

8 a.m.-noon

Social media post and email

  • Thank your community and donors
  • Announce raised funds on Library Giving Day
  • Explain how funds will be utilized
  • Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Don’t Forget About Stewardship

Even though you’re committing only to a one-day fundraiser, you want to keep your donors for the long haul. Once Library Giving Day is behind you, donor stewardship begins with a gift acknowledgment letter.

While all donors should receive a letter, not all donors should be stewarded in the same way. Create a donor stewardship strategy based on donor frequency:

First-time donors: These are the most expensive donors to acquire and they need the most stewardship. Speak with them on the phone to:

  • Learn their values and interests
    • Ask how they heard about Library Giving Day and why they decided to give
    • Make sure they understand your mission

Second-time donors: Since they are not regular donors yet, second-timers need stewarding as well. Be sure to:

  • Learn why they gave again and how long it had been since their last donation
    • Ask if they have been engaged since their first donation
    • Make sure they understand your mission

Annual and major donors: These donors are your biggest advocates in the community. They believe in your work and want to see you succeed. Continue to steward them by:

  • Asking for their feedback, ideas, and comments
    • Asking them if, how often, and in what ways they use the library’s resources
    • Taking an interest in their lives
    • Making sure they understand your mission and are sharing it with the community

Ready, Set, Launch!

With these simple steps and a user-friendly campaign page, you have all you need to execute a triumphant Library Giving Day. And keep your momentum! A successful giving day campaign could be the prologue to an effective annual giving program built on the enthusiasm of your book-loving supporters.

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