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Adopt a Book

Pierce County Library System
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Problem Statement

The University Place Library Campaign wanted a fresh new approach for a targeted fundraising campaign that would engage the entire community – including individuals, book clubs and local businesses through an Adopt a Book program.


The Adopt a Book strategy used online giving to invite donors to make a familiar “tribute” style gift at an accessible giving level. The Development staff collaborated with IT and Collections staff to develop a low-maintenance, high visibility e-commerce website for the Adopt a Book project. The team restructured the website using e-commerce tool Open Cart from a retail-oriented site to a fundraising site, which fostered a shared understanding of fundraising culture in a public library context. The attractive book adoption e-commerce site invited donors to “shop” and browse available titles as easily as clicking on book covers, adding to their shopping cart and making their gift payment online, much like an online retail site. 300 titles were available to adopt online at $50 per title in three categories, classic children’s book, fiction, or non-fiction book. New promotional avenues were tested, including newspaper inserts, brochures in patron holds at the University Place Library branch, direct mail and email blasts. The trial period lasted from November 2010 through February 2011, the opening date of the new library.


During its 3-month fundraising period, Adopt a Book raised $3,850 from 56 donors. The most significant outcome was that more than half of the gifts were from first-time donors to the Pierce County Library Foundation. Another 22 gifts represented increased giving, above a previous gift or pledge to the campaign. Collections and Development staff are currently working together to make Adopt a Book an ongoing feature online that would be available for system-wide gifts restricted for the collection. The updated program is expected this summer with new titles.