Fundraising and friend-raising on the Web


The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 1 June 2000




Cassell, K.A. and Mercado, M.I. (2000), "Fundraising and friend-raising on the Web", The Bottom Line, Vol. 13 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Fundraising and friend-raising on the Web

Corson-Finnerty, A. and Blanchard, L.American Library AssociationChicago, IL1998

Keywords Fund-raising, Libraries, Internet

The authors of this book present a number important issues relating to the utilization of the Web by libraries and other non-profit organizations for fundraising purposes. While they agree with the adage that fundraising is sitting next to someone and getting them to write a check, as members of the development team at the University of Pennsylvania Library, they have been using the Web since 1995 for public relations, constituency building and for the solicitation of gifts. How did they do it?

Although at present most of the funds traveling over the Web is between companies, banks and countries over secure private wires, this is changing. According to Corson-Finnerty and Blanchard, we are at the commencement of a new commercial flow to the Internet. As personal banking, shopping, business to business purchases and entertainment in all its forms moves to the Internet, fundraising for libraries and other non-profits and charitable giving will move also. Since libraries are "wired" with the latest hardware and software and have excellent locations on the information boulevard, the authors are convinced by their positive experiences that the Internet and its "friendly face", the Web, possess great potential for enhancing fundraising efforts for libraries and for increasing their results. Have they raised money using the Web? Have they built their constituency of givers? The short answer is "yes", but not as you might think. As with many start-ups, the University of Pennsylvania Library development team found that the Internet is not a magical money machine. The Web will not do your work for you. Yet libraries and universities and other wired institutions will be among the first to benefit from the movement of personal commerce to the Internet. It is their opinion, based on their experiences, that "almost every non-profit institution will find the Web to be very useful for fundraising".

Therefore, the purpose of this book is to assist development officers and library administrators to seriously think about the potential of the Internet and then act. It is important that the mind-set of development officers, administrators and librarians themselves be changed. At the risk of redundancy, the biggest fundraising problem faced by libraries is that the majority of people take them for granted. There is the explicit and implicit assumption that they will always be there, well stocked with print and non-print resources, with librarians ready and willing to serve us on a daily, week-long, year round basis, without a direct charge to their customers. Because libraries are heavily subsidized through taxes and in the case of university libraries through tuition, the acceptance of the need to raise funds on their behalf has been slow in coming to the general population.

Yet libraries have a number of fundraising advantages. In the first place, utilize the perception that libraries belong to everyone - young, middle, older, generations, regardless of ethnicity, race, gender, rich, poor, immigrant or native, scholar or neophyte. Secondly, the library provides a link to any part of the community and/or university. The authors are convinced that the position in the community of libraries is a lot better than you think, so do not sell yourselves short.

As a result, they offer a variety of effective strategies and techniques which you can utilize. For libraries, these strategies mean moving toward a "Web centric" communications model.

The simple fact is that the Internet is revolutionizing everything that we do. Institutions that lag behind will lose patrons, community support and money.

Libraries are very hot! Why? Because libraries can deliver a product over the Internet. Throughout this book, the authors share with the reader what they learned as a result of their three years of experimentation with the Web. They show us:

  • how creative use of the Internet has enhanced their major gift fundraising;

  • how it can be used to attract and hold new constituents;

  • the possibilities for direct online gifts;

  • ideas relevant for positioning your library in cyberspace; and

  • some start-up tips and tricks.

As well as practical advice, an added plus is their list of citations that the readers can explore for themselves.

This book is enhanced by a Web enabled CD-ROM that makes it easy to find Web resources with a click. The CD is a result of their experiences and an extension of their goal to give readers a wealth of tips, tools, ideas and signposts for getting started. It can be used for taking current Web work in new and promising directions. Pop this CD-ROM into your computer and not only will you have direct access to the resources discovered by the authors but also, those created by the authors for the use of their colleagues. This is a "must read" for anyone who is interested in being an effective fund-raiser for their library.

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