Bridging Libraries and Philanthropy

Bridging Libraries and Philanthropy

Last week I was asked by my colleagues to present to them about the book that Laura Henzl and I published last October called Successful Fundraising for the Academic Library: Philanthropy in Higher Education. This is the first time I’ve presented on the concepts in the book, and it was really great to try it out on friends and colleagues who could give me good feedback. What I did for them is a bit different from the way I’ll talk about fundraising to library staff and faculty at upcoming conferences, so I wanted to share this perspective as well.

The story I told to my colleagues was the evolution of the question that became this project. When I came to Purdue I wasn’t new to libraries, but I was new to higher education development. My previous library experience had been in other realms (public, marketing for a library vendor, a librarian role at a rural community college library and various marketing-related freelance roles), and most of my professional fundraising training was in other kinds of nonprofits like hospitals and national nonprofit organizations. So when I stepped into my new position, I immediately searched for resources to help me learn the basics of raising money for the academic library. I didn’t find a whole lot out there beyond fundraising basics applied to the library and case studies. My best education during my first year was the dedicated conferences for academic library fundraisers that connected me with colleagues doing the same work at other institutions and their priceless knowledge, experience and collaboration. I also have the good luck of a dean who is a fabulous fundraiser. Most of what I’ve learned is by simply following his lead.

At the same time I started this new position I began graduate work at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. One of my first assignments was a literature review of some aspect of the nonprofit sector, and I chose the academic library thinking I could kill two birds with one stone by reviewing literature that would directly impact my work. It was through this project that I discovered that there wasn’t much about philanthropy in libraries literature and nearly nothing about libraries in philanthropy literature. An idea was born!

The PowerPoint in this blog very simply outlines the basics about the book, and the blog below with the presentation I’m doing later this month at Computers in Libraries offers even more. My greatest hope is that this book begins a more robust discussion of this topic. I feel that this project dug into the relevant literature and brought it together for the first time, but it also showed some serious gaps. Libraries, just like all nonprofits, have to become really good at fundraising. Tips and tricks are super handy, but we also need research. My doctoral studies are working towards projects that provide evidence for best practices moving forward, and I hope more scholars will join me in this inquiry.

Click here to view a PDF of the presentation. Bridging Libraries and Philanthropy