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Putting the “Fun” in Fundraising

by on December 17, 2015

In the library world, we often need to raise money for different activities or purposes. Fundraising events can be done in a variety of shapes and forms; and some activities, like galas, dinners, or book sales, have become tried and true staples. What about when you want to try something fresh and new? What if you could plan events that might also attract new patrons?

I talked with Isabel Soto-Luna, the Development Associate for the Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) Foundation, Colorado Springs, Colo., to get some thoughts on fun fundraisers. She said, “You need to be open to ideas. Be creative. Figure out how to turn an idea around and make it work for you,” while still ensuring that you give people a great experience. It’s important to keep in mind who you are trying to attract with your event, and know that different kinds of events attract different demographics. Partnerships with outside organizations can help make planning and holding a successful fundraiser easier.[1] Here are some ideas for fundraising that you could consider the next time you need extra money.

Trivia night! Almost any night of the week a local restaurant or bar is holding a trivia night. Tables fill up with people enjoying their food, drink, and friends as they try to out-think the competition. One of the fundraisers the PPLD Foundation is planning for 2016 is a Geeks Who Drink event. They are working with this particular group because everything will be set up by the company for the event. Foundation staff is working on finding donors for the food and drink. People attending the fundraiser will pay an entry fee, but then have food, drink, and fun all provided for them.[2]

Food and drink pairings! Food events are always popular. Wine and food pairings have become a staple activity. With craft beer being incredibly popular, why not try something like a beer and food pairing? You can partner with a local brewery if you have one nearby. Some cities may have a distillery, so you can work with them for a whiskey pairing night. Talk with local restaurants that might have experts who could work with you.

5Ks! Short races, like 5Ks, are incredibly popular, especially if you live in an active area. Several libraries have already taken advantage of this activity. The Cumberland County Library System (Camp Hill, Penn.) held its tenth annual 5K earlier in 2015 with a hero theme, encouraging participants to dress like their favorite heroes.[3] An internet search will bring up many other places, like the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, that are also doing these fundraisers. Want to take the 5K up a notch? Why not consider taking inspiration from other popular runs, and adding obstacles or some other kind of fun aspect, like zombies?

Games! Is there a popular pastime in your town that you can turn into a tournament? Consider hosting a game night at the library with an entry fee, like the Scrabble-Thon  at the Escondido (Calif.) Public Library Would a casino night be well-received, like the one held at Media-Upper Providence (Penn.) Free Library

When you’re considering the possibilities for fundraising activities, try to think about what is popular with the people who live in your community, and then assess your resources and possible partnership opportunities. With so many prospects for fun fundraisers, you can bring two things into the library: donations and patrons!


[1] Soto-Luna, Isabel, interview by Becca Cruz. Development Associate (November 18, 2015).

[2] Ibid.

[3] “2015 Library Loop 5K.” Cumberland County Library System. August 4, 2015. http://www.cumberlandcountylibraries.org/FRE_loop2015 (accessed November 18, 2015).

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