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Academic Library Fund-Raising: Organization, Process, and Politics.


IN RECENT YEARS, THE TRADITIONAL FUNCTIONS of the library have been supplemented by new functions and structures, among them information technology and development. Fund-raising, part of development, is of critical importance to schools and departments of universities, which are increasingly engaged in capital campaigns and major gift programs. While libraries have the disadvantage of not having a built-in constituency, they do have the ability of acquiring and building such a constituency with the capability of supporting the library's monetary and programmatic goals. The fund-raising environment is discussed as well as techniques for enhancing a library's major gifts program.


Fund-raising is truly an art. There exists little real research on the topic, although the literature in this area is increasing in size, scope, and quality. Many questions raised about specific areas of fund-raising must be answered with the phrase "it depends": the answer depends on the kind and size of institution under discussion; the nature of the potential or actual constituency; the maturity of the institution; and various other factors. In recent years, academic centers have been established to study philanthropy at a theoretical level, particularly as it affects nonprofit institutions. However, the interest of librarians involved in starting or continuing a fund-raising program remains on the immediate environment, the politics, and the "how-to's" of developing external resources on behalf of library programs. This article will address issues of major gifts, capital campaigns, organization, staffing, constituency, and the role of the library development program within the academic community.


Until the mid-1960s, most academic libraries could consider themselves the "heart of the university"--an island not only of tranquillity but also of bibliographic expertise that was found nowhere else in the university. Alone among its colleagues in academia, the library collected, organized, and made available the repository of the knowledge of humanity or that part of it suited to the requirements of each college or university as a locus of teaching and research. With the possible exception of unofficial departmental or seminar reading rooms, no one else on campus collected the literature, cataloged it, lent and borrowed books on interlibrary loan, and operated large reading rooms and other public service facilities such as periodicals rooms, government documents departments, or special collections and manuscripts divisions. While the faculty could argue then and now about what resources are acquired for the collection, librarians were alone as performers of these often-arcane tasks. If anyone else on campus were to embark on a library-like activity, they often came to the library for advice and frequently used standards and procedures developed by the library. Therefore, with the exception of advice on collections, there was no urgent need for librarians to coordinate their work with anyone else in the university on a daily basis.

In the past thirty years, this "splendid isolation" has been removed: two of our most significant current functions have come into being in these decades and, in both cases, they imitate or duplicate what is done elsewhere on campus rather than being unique to the library. These functions are systems/automation and development. In both cases, someone else--some other unit--considers him- or herself the expert, requiring the library to cast its plans, actions, and often policies within the standards set elsewhere in the university. Libraries began to use computers in the 1960s and 1970s and tended to be the first unit on campus to use the computer for non-quantitative purposes. With the passage of time, the lead once held by libraries in applications of information technology has disappeared; the trend is for universities to have a chief information officer, one of whose tasks is to ensure that standards are in place for the use of computers throughout the institution. Now, instead of possessing just one set of knowledges and skills defined by more than a century of experience within a library environment, librarians must explain why the library application of information technology is different enough to warrant separate treatment, and what issues are of concern to the library and to no other department of the university.

Development is even further removed from the once-cozy and easily defined arena of the academic library. While the large private universities have endowments that date back two or more centuries, few institutions of higher education have been involved in serious fund-raising for more than two or three decades. Driven by the fortunes made during the industrial revolution, philanthropy and charitable giving made their way into the landmark of American culture as recently as 100 years ago. At that time they concentrated more on correcting social ills than on enhancing the educational environment of what then was a very small minority of wealthy young men attending a small number of universities (Burlingame & Hulse, 1991, p.20). Organizations such as the YMCA, Red Cross, and Hull House attracted the attention of the wealthy of the time. It was, of course, Andrew Carnegie who focused his attention on libraries, and for a number of decades public libraries were the beneficiaries of most of the dollars going to libraries.

Still today, public library directors have a noticeably more pronounced role in their political environments than do most academic library directors. The profession's formal organizations in support of development and fund-raising have centered on the public library, which in the nineteenth century was considered a significant part of the movement toward a more literate, better educated, populace. Moving into the twenty-first century, the American Library Association still has the American Library Trustees Association--primarily for trustees of public libraries; the Friends of the Libraries/USA (FOLUSA) is also firmly rooted in a public library heritage.


Many library fund-raising programs begin with the development of a support group, usually a Friends of the Library group and, in academia, annual fund drives. These techniques are essential for raising the visibility of the library within and around the campus community, and for conveying the message to the academic administration that it is indeed possible to raise money for library needs. Once a library has developed a group of supporters--and this may take many years--the next step is to ensure that a core subset of this group remains loyal (consistent annual giving) and begins to give at-levels considerably higher than the minimum "dues." With this group of people, the goal is to develop in them a feeling of personal commitment to the library, and to encourage them to begin to consider gifts of a larger size (Greenfield, 1999). In order to make a significant difference in the development of external resources, however, the library must be a full participant in the major gift programs of the institution together with the schools of the university, athletics, and financial aid.


The answer to this question is that it depends on the institution and its circumstances. The exact definition of a major gifts program may vary from one university to another, but at medium-size and large universities, it typically focuses on gifts of at least $50,000 and often may include only gifts of $100,000 and above (smaller fund-raising efforts, such as those for a community project which may have a total goal of $1 million or less, may consider gifts as small as $100 to be major gifts). These sums do not need to be given at one time in one fiscal year; they could be pledges by a donor over a specified number of years (usually no more than five) to create an endowment or support a particular project. Both interesting and helpful, major gifts for libraries often take the form of planned gifts: these gifts can be either outright bequests or can use one of various vehicles designed to create win-win situations for a donor and a charitable target such as a university, hospital, or other cause.

Development professionals and librarians disagree in their definitions of major gifts, particularly as applied to libraries. When the development office defines a major gift as any six figure gift or more, it can be difficult for librarians to argue that book fund endowments of $10,000 should be a part of the library's major gifts program. This author has had to stave off attempts on the part of a development office to establish the minimum book fund endowment as $75,000 (a compromise figure of $25,000 for a book fund endowment was reached). For donors who like to give in the form of endowment (and there are many people who don't care to give in this way), $10,000 over a five-year period, or $25,000 over the same period of time, can often be readily achieved. An informal survey of directors of ARL libraries showed that by far the majority of universities made book endowment funds possible at these two levels, although there were a few institutions allowing book endowment funds for as little as $5,000 or requiring as much as $50,000 or more (personal communication, ARL listserv, 1996).

Why should one struggle to persuade the development office that $10,000 or $25,000 are reasonable amounts for an endowment? Because, unlike almost any other area of the university, the library can make excellent use of the payout from a $10,000 or $25,000 endowment. Whether that payout is $500 or $1,250 annually, the library can purchase materials that are of benefit to the institution's students and faculty--and this fact can be very attractive to potential donors. An alumnus giving $1,000 annually can often be persuaded to consider increasing that gift to $2,000 or even $5,000 over five years to create an endowment. Recent Internet discussion (1999) indicates that fund-raisers are beginning to recognize that not all major gifts can come from the truly wealthy, and that the level of affluence in our society is such that major giving should be considered to come from the affluent middle and upper-middle class, over time, and with the many options that are available to them for making a significant difference to their favorite charity ( charityvillage/research/rmaj2.html).

If one assumes that the library has a constituency, how does the development director or librarian determine which of its supporters are appropriate targets for a major gift solicitation? A good acquaintance with these supporters and their friends, if not an actual friendship, allows the librarian and his or her staff to identify those people who might be receptive to a major gifts proposal and, more importantly, are capable of making a commitment to such a gift. Information about approximate worth, approximate annual income, nature of home and neighborhood--are all factors that go into the research done by most development offices at universities of any size. Add to this the intelligence gleaned from members of the library's advisory board or the Friend's council, and the development team should be armed with sufficient information to make several cultivation calls. Greenfield (1999) says: "Major gift cultivation, solicitation, and recognition should all be part of the strategic action plan from the start; most of the effort, however, will be spent in cultivation, whereby each qualified donor and prospect is given the personal attention he or she needs to arrive at a big gift decision" (p. 243). Greenfield (1999, chap. 5) characterizes this level of giving as akin to making an investment decision, and indeed donors at the highest levels want to ensure that their dollars are accomplishing the desired end.


The environment surrounding the library administrator who wishes to raise funds is relatively new to universities. With the rapid expansion of institutions of higher education in the 1960s, both governmental and private foundation sources determined that supporting academic and research libraries served the greater purpose of the educational enterprise in this country. Among these, the Department of Education, the Pew Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation played the most prominent roles until the late 1980s and early 1990s, enabling many libraries to engage in innovative and important projects that otherwise would have been impossible. To attract this funding, library directors identified those of their staff who could not only write well but could also make a persuasive case. This focus on corporate, foundation, and government sources of funds frequently caused librarians to ignore the individual donors available to them.

Since those years, however, much of the government funding has disappeared, leaving the National Endowment for the Humanities to focus on preservation and the building of the endowment. Of the private foundations, the Mellon Foundation has been the primary strong voice with its programmatic endorsement of library needs and innovations. Simultaneously (and not unsurprisingly), the coffers of the institutions of higher education have shrunk, leaving library directors in the position of seeking a foothold in their institutional development structures together with academic and athletic programs. Conrad (1974) tells us not to worry, though: in foundation grant-seeking, [the] odds are stacked against you. Foundations have little staff to review your project, they're not very receptive to new or radical ideas, they reject many more proposals than they fund, and they give only 10 per cent of the total philanthropic dollars anyway!" (p. 78). Under these circumstances, the individual donor--whether alumnus, parent, or friend--suddenly became more prominent.


Now, for the first time, librarians are attempting to persuade university administrations not only that libraries need external funding, but also that they are worthy of the effort required to find those funds in the same manner as do the schools and colleges of the university. There are some built-in hindrances to this development effort that exist at almost any academic institution:
 No one ever graduated from the library; There is a perception that it is
 difficult to raise funds for libraries; and The library is everyone's
 second priority (while the first priority is the individual's own academic
 program). (Martin, 1998, p. 3)

Structurally, these and other issues must be treated within the context of the organization's overall approach to development and fund-raising: centralized, decentralized, or hybrid (Gearhart & St. Clair, 1994, p. 58). Depending on the model chosen, the impact for the library is significant. With a centralized model, the university development office directs development activities for the entire institution. In this case, the library might have a development officer, or part of a development officer, assigned to it, but that person would not be located physically in the library; instead, the library may have a secretary or administrative assistant for support of the Friends' program. Often, the vice president for development decides that all development officers should keep the library's needs in mind as they travel around the country in pursuit of major gifts, meeting with alumni, parents, and friends. The problem with this approach is that it simply doesn't work; giving each development director responsibility for not only all the academic programs but also the library means that the word "library" is highly unlikely to be mentioned in the conversation unless the president of the institution has made it his or her top priority.

With the decentralized model, the entire development process is handled independently by each unit of the university. Depending on the university, the library might convince the development office to provide it with development officers but more frequently would need to create its own development positions and would retain control not only of the positions but also of the activities of the people in those positions. While this model sounds appealing, its significant disadvantage lies in exactly what sounds appealing--the lack of communication with the central development structure. As noted elsewhere in this issue, central development is a source of support for many specialized areas of development such as planned giving, corporate and foundation giving, public relations, and events planning, to name a few (see the article by Taylor in this issue of Library Trends). Additionally, a totally independent library development structure would not have access to the broad base of constituents that it could have were there a link of some kind with the development office. A potentially disatrous situation can arise with a decentralized system in which many parts of the university try to approach a known potential benefactor, making it appear as though the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. One very likely outcome of this situation is that the benefactor will end up not supporting any part of the institution.

The hybrid model can serve both the institution and the library well. The university provides, in one way or another, a development officer for the library. If the university is engaged in a capital campaign, this person will probably be full time and will have some staff. Once the campaign is completed, institutional inertia suggests that the library will retain all or most of the development support that it had during the campaign. Most significantly, the development officer can report to either the development office or to the library, but the communication links to both departments should be strong. In this author's experience, development officers reporting to central development but located within the library administrative office are extremely effective.


How many people should be involved in development for an academic library? The answer is that it depends. It depends on whether the library is a priority in a capital campaign; the maturity of the library's development program; the size and activity of the friends' group; and the goal (annual or capital) set for the library, either by and for itself or by the university administration.

Development activities are not limited to those whose titles contain the word "development," however. In most academic libraries, librarians throughout the organization can appropriately be encouraged to become active in the development process. Special collections and gifts librarians are natural candidates for such involvement; one benefit is that donors see not only the library director as a figurehead but also interact with the people who are engaged, on a daily basis, in putting into place the programs that their gifts make possible.

Critical to a library's fund-raising effort is the position of director of development for the library, whatever organizational model is used. Experience shows that the director of the library's development process can be a librarian but does not need to be. As indicated by Hoffman, Smith, and DiBona in this issue of Library Trends, when a librarian takes on this role, there is a tendency for the organization to place additional responsibilities within the purview of the person, taking valuable time away from the business of defining a capital campaign, soliciting major gifts, or otherwise ensuring the success of the library's development program. Particularly in a decentralized or hybrid model, professional development officers bring to the library the knowledge of techniques for creating success, alternative ways of achieving it and, probably most importantly, an existing network of communication with other development officers. This author's experience suggests that professional development officers enjoy the multidimensionality of library fund-raising, often seeing it as more creative and challenging than raising funds for specific schools or academic areas (M. Bayers, personal communication, May 18, 1999).

The fund-raising activity must be vigorously supported by the library director in order to be successful. In addition, the director needs to take an active role in the development process, visiting potential donors with the director of development and participating with the team of development and library staff to create the best possible message for the library's constituency, both internal and external. It is not at all unknown for a library director to spend 50 percent of his or her time on development activities and, in the early phases of a capital campaign, this number can creep up to 75 percent. Obviously, the library still needs to be managed; having an excellent team applies not only directly to development but also to the everyday operation of the library.


As libraries increasingly and regularly become involved in fund-raising, and as that fund-raising effort goes beyond the annual fund and the Friends of the library, the library administration will need to identify annual goals, either independently or with the central development office. A circular argument begins at this point: does the library have enough of a constituency to meet its proposed goal? are there enough people involved in the development effort to create this constituency? if the constituency is small, then why place more staff resources behind this effort? With a small number of development staff, the goal must therefore be small.

It takes a bold administrator to break this vicious circle. If the library already has a Friends or annual fund program, a major gifts or campaign goal can be extrapolated from what the institution knows about the existing supporters of the library and what it surmises may be accomplished by a growing library development program. One rule of thumb suggests that, for an annual goal of $3-5 million (inclusive of major gifts, annual fund, gifts in kind, and any other income streams that the university may allow), a development structure should have one professional director of development (M. Goodwin, personal communication, September 1995). In addition, as suggested elsewhere in this issue, the Friends of the library require staff support, as do the communications, mailings, and annual fund appeals on behalf of the library.

The largest academic library development office this author is aware of is comprised of six full-time staff: two development professionals and four support staff. The Georgetown University Library, with a campaign goal of $30 million, has one development professional and two support staff.


Universities establish their internal priorities, of course, and have the kinds of economic constraints that have already been recognized and are widely known. It could be that, in the politics of fund-raising, the library director is told by the central development office that there will not be a full-time (or even part-time) director of development and no direct support for the library's development efforts. What is the library administration to do?

The development office, as a service unit to the university at large, is carrying out the priorities given it by the academic administration of the university--that is, the priorities identified by the president and provost. Therefore, the development budget for the institution will support those areas which have been identified as priorities. If the library is not among these priorities, the library and its administration will have to make do with whatever resources they can muster on their own--and will find that they have company elsewhere in the university where academic units or other departments also have only limited services from the development office.

All is not lost however, and, in fact, the library is in a better position than most to address this situation. With a special collections department (see Taylor, in this issue of Library Trends) and a Friends group which has no relationship to the university other than to the library, library development can proceed apace, although it is unlikely to raise the multiple millions of dollars that it might were it a priority of the university. Neighbors of the university are pleased to become involved with the library, perceived as an institution of culture able to provide interesting discussions and programs and often access to the library's collections, newsletters, and other benefits.

Creating a Friends of the library group, if none exists, can be accomplished with library resources using the contacts that the library already has with collectors and donors. The programmatic structure of a Friends group is appealing to people on and off campus; it can present an alternative view of the university to the world at large without appearing to compete for donors with other departments of the university. Many a library has gradually formed an annual-giving constituency in this way without the official sanction of the college or university.


The Library's Constituency within the University

It has been reiterated here and elsewhere that one of the library's major hindrances in fund-raising is the lack of a natural constituency. On some campuses, even when the library has been identified as an institutional priority, the library's development officer is nonetheless denied access to any alumni of any of the schools. Most library development officers spend a great deal of time with other development officers within the university and also with university administrators, ensuring that there is an understanding of the library's needs and a recognition that fund-raising for the library does ultimately serve the purpose of the entire university.

Every university and college has alumni and friends for whom the library is an ideal target of attention, volunteerism, and philanthropy. Segmenting the university's total constituency into targets for library fundraising is an important mechanism for providing the library with access to potential supporters without upsetting the normal "prospect assignment" structure of the institution. Reunion classes (those classes celebrating their tenth, fifteenth, twentieth, and so on reunions) are often not available for library cultivation, although typically members of reunion classes can target their reunion gifts to the library should they so desire. There are a few institutions with a tradition of a particular reunion class, such as the fiftieth reunion, giving their reunion gift to the library.

Development offices are usually delighted to allow the library to solicit alumni who have never given to the university or who gave last year but not so far this year (Last Year But Not This or LYBUNT). Experience shows, though, that alumni who didn't give, really didn't want to give; it takes an especially appealing letter, brochure, or argument to cause these people to write a check to the library. A library director must accept the offer of this mailing list with open eyes, recognizing that this mailing is probably the worst possible segment of the population to approach, particularly if the positive return is being measured by percentage of response rather than absolute numbers. A mailing of 50,000 may only generate 100 donations to the library. A .2 percent return will be regarded as worthless by professionals in the direct mail business and, of course, when the rule of thumb is a return of 2-5 percent, an order of magnitude less than that is a poor showing. However, if 100 new members of the Friends group manages to increase the size of the membership by 25 percent, and if the donations at least cover the cost of the mailing, the mailing will have done more good than harm.

Library development programs should take advantage of the emotional response to libraries and of the fact that, in many universities, there is a group of disaffected alumni--perhaps those classes that graduated during the Vietnam war era when the campus may have been in chaos or perhaps women who were among the first classes of coeducation in formerly male institutions. These alumni are now of an age to be ready to give something back to their university, but their experiences prevent them from identifying closely with a school, a department, or even the university as a whole. The library is often able to present itself as a positive force, and one that was a presence during those earlier years on campus.

There is not usually much that a librarian can do to persuade an academic dean or an athletic director to release one of his or her alumni to the library if the dean already has a relationship with the alumnus. The same holds true with parents; this author has had the experience of requesting a visit with parents who owned a nationally known bookstore--quite logical to try to attract these people to the library. However, the dean of the school attended by the child wished to retain access to those parents, and the library was never able to call on them.

Other techniques can be used to cull out of the large body of alumni and parents those people who might be encouraged to take an interest in the library. In those cases where several members of a single family attended the same institution, but usually majored in different areas, the library can represent the place on campus that is common to the experiences of all family members. Identifying alumni and parents whose occupational interests are related in some way or another to the activities of the library can be helpful: publishers, printers, authors, or people in some aspect of the information technologies industry may be persuaded to support the library. The development office's research department can derive information that relates to the publicly available interests of the university's alumni, parents, and friends. More interesting but much more difficult to acquire is information about people who collect books, manuscripts, and artwork; this is potentially a group rife with good prospects for the library--if the library can discover who they are.

Gifts in Kind

More than any other unit on campus, the library is likely to receive gifts in kind. Librarians are familiar with the phenomenon and with the irritation of receiving a collection of books that almost entirely duplicates what is already in the collection, of feeling the need to be nice to someone whose collection is really not of interest to the library but whose interests may be worth cultivating for prospective future gifts.

It is not unusual for a library's special collections to be built entirely through gifts in kind. Where there is a history of such gift acceptance, potential donors are likely to be aware of the library's willingness to accept gifts. It becomes easier for the library to build on success by identifying other book or manuscript collections for possible donation to the university.

But how does this relate to major gifts? If major gifts tend to be endowment or, at the very least, six-figure gifts, how can gifts in kind fit in? Shouldn't they be considered annual gifts?

A case can be made for treating gifts in kind either as annual or as major gifts. When a collection of books comes in, to conform to IRS regulations, it should come with an external appraisal either already done or ready to be done while the books are in the library and at the expense of the donor. That appraisal may be regarded as equivalent to a gift of cash enabling the library to "purchase" the materials that were the actual gift. In most cases, gifts are nominal in value; however, in the case of valuable collections of manuscripts or books, the value is frequently added to the library's total giving for the year. At Georgetown, for example, the financial system contains a cost center to which the values of significant gifts in kind are added. When the total gifts for the year are computed, the values of these collections automatically become a part of the library's total. At this point, the library receives, on average, about $350,000 annually in gifts in kind--not a sum to be ignored.

Travel to Make Friends

In an academic environment, where many thousands of alumni and parents are scattered not only throughout the nation but the world, it is critical that a university establish a program that recognizes travel for deans and development directors as well as for local and regional alumni clubs. Often the alumni with the greatest capacity for giving back to the university are located some distance away; there must be a concerted effort to bring them back to the university and to make them feel a part of not only the institution's past but also its future.

As the library director identifies potential donors either through the Friends of the library or other channels, he or she needs to establish a strategy for addressing each person, identifying the best fit between the library's needs and the donor's wishes. In a maturing development program, the director and the development officer will be required to travel up to one week each month, making appointments with leadership prospects and also some "discovery" calls. A leadership prospect with serious intentions of making a gift should normally be visited two or three times before the "ask"; unusual circumstances may alter this formula--sometimes an alumnus being seen for the first time may ask what he or she can do for the library, initiating an "ask" right at that moment. While such a request is a positive sign, the library probably has not had sufficient time by then to prepare a full response and may ask for a smaller amount than might be appropriate or accept a gift for a purpose that is not high priority.

Once a strong relationship with the donor has been established, the library and development directors work together to write a proposal for gift and a gift agreement that can be placed in front of the donor during the next visit. Leadership gifts (more than $1 million) are often requested by the president of the institution, but each case differs, and the nature of the relationship between the donor and the university will indicate who the appropriate solicitor is and in what environment. The library director doing the asking needs to take the advice of the author's director of development: "Look the donor directly in the eye, don't hesitate when asking for the gift, and keep your mouth closed after you have made the ask. Let the donor think about your request."

This environment forces a library director to manage time carefully and, more importantly, to ensure that ongoing library operations continue smoothly despite the frequent absence of the leader of the organization. In some ways, information technology assists; the traveling administrator these days almost invariably has a laptop computer on hand and can appear to those at home as though he or she were still in the office rather than halfway around the country or the world. But a travel schedule must be established with care; this author develops a calendar during the summer of each year, filling in the obligatory professional meetings, important on-campus meetings, and only then sitting down with the director of development to identify the days and/or weeks to be devoted to development travel.

If a library is attempting to appeal to people in remote locations to become supporters of the library, the development team faces the difficulty of deciding how to appeal to these non-local donors and how to make the library become a reality for them beyond a quarterly newsletter and a listing in an annual roll call. One method is to take the programs of the Friends on the road, determine where the largest concentrations of alumni and parents are, and focus the attention of the development travel in these areas. For most universities, New York City will be one of these regions. The librarian and development director may decide to travel as frequently as possible to New York, meeting people who are already library supporters, and making "discovery" calls to entice non-supporters to join the Friends. Once a certain critical mass of support has been established in a particular region, the Friends are able to consider offering programs to the supporters, university donors, and parents in that area.

As an example, the Georgetown University librarian and development director spent several years visiting donors and potential donors in New York, traveling to New York and vicinity from Washington three or four times each year. Within four years, they made the decision that a Friends program could be offered in New York. Since that time, the Friends group (at Georgetown University known as the Library Associates) has held two events each year in New York, often bringing faculty members to New York to speak--and supporting the travel of those faculty.

Another travel technique is to look for places not being addressed by other parts of the university and making the library visible in that region. Again at Georgetown, no one was concentrating on the rather large group of alumni and parents in London. The university librarian and the director of development travel to London twice each year and, on one of those occasions, all the alumni and parents are invited to an associates' event (in 1999 the speaker was Lord Jeffrey Archer, himself a Georgetown parent). A consequence of the attention that has been paid by the library to the London group is the formation by one of the alumni of a Library Millennium Book Fund, to which all British residents with a Georgetown connection are invited to contribute.

A philosophical dispute, whose answer is probably again "it depends," focuses on the question of whether one should take longer trips--up to a week--and meet with as many people as possible, or shorter trips that are focused on one or two donors and one or two "asks." Longer trips seem to be more worthwhile for locations that are more remote; perhaps one visits the south central part of the country, gaining appointments with donors in Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri over a three-day period. If one is based on the east coast, it is very easy to make a one-day trip to New York or even to Chicago to ask just one prospect to consider a gift of $1 million--or even $100,000.

Some libraries have adequate travel budgets to support these efforts but most do not. In the latter case, there are two primary options: ask the development office to provide the travel budget or use some of the unrestricted money that comes in through the annual fund or Friends process. Most people recognize that "it takes money to make money," and, while the latter approach is not something that one publicizes widely, a library administrator should not feel guilty about using funds that are intended to improve the circumstances of the library.

All the obvious courtesies must be attended to when traveling. The busy schedules of working professionals sometimes make life difficult for the person putting together the itinerary. Let's say that the librarian and development director plan to go to New York for three days; there are three people whom they must see and ten others on the list to be visited just to become better acquainted. The library's schedule is put together during the summer, so they know that this trip will take place from October 26-28, sandwiched between a Council of Deans meeting and the ARL fall meeting. They cannot call people until October 15 at the earliest; New York businessmen are notorious for not knowing what their calendars will look like more than a few days ahead of time. "Just give me a call when you're in town, and we'll see if we can get together" is a phrase that causes a groan; the person will most likely be out of town when the development team arrives. They leave for New York with one lunch, one dinner, and two afternoon appointments scheduled and a long list of names and phone numbers to be called upon arrival.

One of the most frustrating conditions of fund-raising travel is not knowing until close to the time of the trip whether there will be enough appointments to make the trip worthwhile. There almost always is, but often it is touch-and-go with no certainty. On the other hand, one might have four visits in two days (not a very good trip, in this author's opinion) but may come home with a check for $10,000 from one of the alumni whose reunion is this year and who wants his reunion gift to go to the library. A success like this overshadows the frustration.

A librarian traveling with or without a development director should be well briefed in advance of the trip. A briefing book should have a copy of the itinerary, and also printouts from the university's fund-raising system, giving as much information as is known about the people to be visited. For major asks, special research must be requested in advance, and the results of that research should be in the travel briefing book.

Upon return to campus, the librarian must obviously write thank-you notes. Over time, a person may develop a series of form paragraphs to be put together appropriately for each letter. Of course, form letters are not appropriate in those cases where the librarian knows the donor particularly well or the meeting involved an unusual topic. As important, if not more so, the development director must ascertain that a contact report or memo is placed in the person's file in the development office. Any communication with donors or potential donors must be placed on file to support any future requests to approach that donor. Especially in the case of the library, with no built-in constituency, the description of communications or visits with a donor is important for building the case for access to that donor.

Constant visits to other locations to see library supporters will pay off in the long run by providing the library with a new constituency for major and annual gifts. These people, if happy with their association with the library, will carry the word further, and the circle of friends and supporters will grow.


At a time when universities are fiscally constrained, capital campaigns have become a primary way to identify new resources for the university's programs and to motivate current donors to provide additional support. Georgetown's former vice president for alumni and university relations says that capital campaigns "provide an excuse for an institution to get its act together" (K. Jones, personal communication, May 1995). Some institutions have become accustomed to remaining exclusively in campaign mode, often alternating a comprehensive campaign with focused campaigns intended to support individual parts of the university.

In preparation for a capital campaign, a university typically identifies the needs and priorities of its various units. Together with the academic schools or units, the library should go through a strategic planning process or similar exercise to articulate its needs for building and renovation, endowed collections, technology, endowed positions, preservation, or other programmatic and innovative areas. As standard procedure, the library--and the university as a whole--will identify needs far beyond the capability of the university to raise funds. For example, the needs, or wish list, might total $1 billion, but the development office and the president may think that the university's fund-raising capacity for that campaign is only $500 million. At that point, obviously, every unit will then be asked to revise its priorities to fit within a specified goal.

Once again, different universities work in different ways (i.e., it depends on the circumstance). For its 1990 campaign, Johns Hopkins University set a goal of $450 million and identified broad programmatic areas but did not target dollar amounts to specific academic schools, the library, and other units. In most cases, though, a particular dollar amount will be set as the campaign goal for the unit. One of the most important responsibilities of the library director is to ensure that the library is appropriately represented in the institutional campaign goal. If at all possible, the library should not be the unit with the lowest dollar goal; such a decision would send a negative message to both library donors and non-donors about the importance that the university ascribes to the library. Additionally, if the library's campaign is successful, there should be an opportunity to increase the goal, either within a university-wide increase or as a result of reallocation of goals within the university (the latter may politically be extremely difficult to accomplish).

With the library's goal defined, the director and appropriate staff members then create a menu of named gift opportunities to be presented to potential donors. In a campaign that focuses on endowment, with some restricted programmatic funds, the library would probably identify named endowments in accordance with university policy for collections, for technology, or for as-yet-unnamed spaces within the library. Endowed positions, either in support of existing positions or to establish new positions, are also excellent named gift opportunities. Named gift opportunities are limited only by the imaginations of the librarians and the donors and, indeed, the librarian will often find that the donor is driving a future library program more intensely than is completely comfortable.

The goal is now defined and the campaign is underway--except that it isn't quite. The campaign is in the "quiet phase," a period of time in which ostensibly no one knows about the campaign (even though everyone really does). Ideally, an institution "goes public" with a gala announcement of the campaign when at least half of the goal is in hand or irrevocably pledged. For example, Gallaudet University is in a campaign that will end in 2001; the campaign began in 1998. The public phase of the campaign began in October 1999 with more than half of the $30 million goal reached. Here there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the institution had a great deal of energy in the early years of the campaign, and the library's top donors can probably be counted on to make an appropriate donation or pledge. The bad news is that when half of the campaign is completed, there is still another half to go--this time with a need to find new donors and prospects, a task that is in many ways much more difficult than the first portion of the campaign.

Targets also need to be set for annual monetary goals to encompass both annual fund dollars and major gifts. This annual plan of action is established by examining the library's list of outstanding proposals--prospects who will be solicited during the year--and the likelihood of major proposals being funded or agreements being signed. To carry out a campaign effectively, the university needs to set overall targets year by year as a mechanism to ensure that the campaign will reach its goal. The annual goals of each school or department flow into the process of defining institutional, overall, and annual goals.

The time required for development during a capital campaign intensifies far beyond that normally demanded of a library director. If a library is fortunate, the development office will assign additional staff to the library to assist with such functions as discovery calls, proposal writing, publicity, and similar tasks. If not, then the library administration has to determine whether and how to incorporate the extra workload into everyone's regular schedule. It is ironic that the financial constraints being felt by universities generally prevent the establishment of new positions, such as those of development, whose very functions would be to increase the resources available to the institution.


With either a centralized or hybrid model of development, universities adopt a protective system for their donors and prospects to ensure that only one part of the university approaches that person or institution for money at any one time--unless the donor indicates that he is willing or anxious to support more than one part of the university. Typically, this protection takes on the nature of a "clearance system" in which records are meticulously kept about each donor or prospect and the communications that the person has had with the university. The development office assigns responsibility for major prospects to appropriate parts of the university; thus, an alumnus of the college of arts and science who has the capacity to give a $500,000 gift will be "assigned" to the development director of the college. Similarly, library donors to the library will be assigned to the development director of the library.

In a capital campaign, with a financial target for the university and its subunits, there will be competition among the various areas of the university for access to the most significant alumni, parents, and other donors. The role of the director of the library and the director of development is to ensure that people who have expressed an interest in the library are "assigned" to the library as prospects. Additionally, the librarian must insist upon being a full participant in the campaign, as mentioned above.

The level of territoriality depends on the nature of the university; however, especially when it comes to money and the identification of sources of funding, even the most amicable of campuses can become competitive. When librarians persuade university administrators that their department is just as worthy of fund-raising as the teaching units, they may lose the venerated status that libraries usually have in academia and become just "one of the boys." Despite the fact that it seems reasonable for academic departments and schools to cooperate with the library to raise funds--e.g., to improve the collections in an area of interest to the department or school--the librarian may find it almost impossible to persuade a colleague dean or department chair to incorporate library collection support in a joint endeavor.

This means that the library, while not completely on its own, must be just as active as other parts of the university, traveling to meet prospects and donors, working with volunteer boards and committees, and following a systematic plan to achieve its monetary goal. The activities that a librarian must engage in to become successful in this environment are certainly not those that most librarians anticipated when they decided to pursue librarianship as a profession. But increasingly, librarians no longer have a choice about whether to engage in external fund-raising or not. It is expected of library directors just as it is of other top administrators in the university. The library comes to this game with some significant disadvantages but with a mission that speaks to many people and that can be turned to great advantage. The central development office should ultimately come to appreciate the benefits derived from talking with alumni, parents, and friends about the library, and academic administrators will eventually accept the new role of the library as an academic support service while its administrators are colleagues and competitors in the contest for funds.


The changing world of higher education has made it almost imperative for librarians to become fully engaged in the process of fund-raising and development for their libraries on behalf of their universities. Fighting the old saw that "it is impossible to raise money for libraries" are an increasing number of academic libraries participating in their institutions' capital campaigns with goals of $20 million, $30 million, or more. Library administrators need to recognize this trend and take advantage of the very considerable goodwill that most people feel toward libraries.

Libraries need to build constituencies and define directions that make it clear to those both inside and outside the university what payoff results from investments in the university's library--the heart of the university. A library director at a university engaged in major fund-raising needs either to participate fully in this process or to ensure that the structure of the library includes competent staff who are able to take on this role. Organizing the library to successfully raise funds while simultaneously providing the best possible service to the campus community is a challenge that needs to be addressed, and sooner rather than later.

Each library director will have to work with his or her community, development office, potential and actual constituency, and administration to identify the best way in which to supplement increasingly scarce resources. Development, the library world's newest special function, serves as the means to insert the library's interests in not only annual fund and special fund-raising efforts but in major gifts and capital campaigns as well.


Burlingname, D. F., & Hulse, L. J. (1991). Taking fund raising seriously: Advancing the profession and practice of raising money. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Conrad, D. L. (1974). Techniques of fund-raising. Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, Inc.

Gearhart, G. D., & St. Clair, G. (1994). Library development structures in CIC institutions: The search for constituents. College & Research Libraries, 55(1), 57-67.

Greenfield, J. M. (1999). Fund raising: Evaluating and managing the fund development process (2d ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Martin, S. K. (1998). The changing role of the library director: Fund-raising and the academic library. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 24(1), 3-10.

Susan K. Martin, Lauringer Library, Georgetown University, 3700 O Street NW, Washington, DC 20057

SUSAN K. MARTIN is presently University Librarian at the Lauringer Library at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She is a member of the American Library Association as well as a member on several editorial boards of various professional journals. Ms. Martin also does consulting work in library development and management. She is also author of the book, Library Networks, 1986-87.
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Publication:Library Trends
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:Factors for Success: Academic Library Development Survey Results.
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