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Creative Fundraising with Authors

St. Louis County Library

Innovation Leader: Charles Pace, Library Director

Problem Statement

The St. Louis County Library Foundation has developed a program to attract and host author events for children and adults. Huge crowds consistently attend the events, ranging from 50 to 1,900 people. The challenge is to capitalize on these events to raise funds, cultivate donors and simultaneously, increase awareness of library services, and promote reading and literacy.

Innovation

The Library Foundation utilizes its author program to fundraise in several ways. We actively market our Friends membership program at every event. We create special author receptions to reward our Friends and attract prospective Friends. Friends receive perks such as reserve seats at our author events. We briefly discuss opportunities to donate in support of Library needs at our larger events. We solicit corporate sponsorships of our three major author series; two for adults and one for children. We also conduct special evenings such as our annual Suspense Night and our Family Read Night, as well as the annual Business Breakfast. We secure corporate sponsors for these events. We also include great authors at our annual spring partner appreciation breakfast and fall donor appreciation luncheon, as well as the annual gala dinner, which raised funds last year for two new teen centers. Our community wide reading initiative with the City of St. Louis Public Library features five outstanding authors each year and is corporately sponsored. When authors and their readers come together, fundraising opportunities as well as many other positive benefits accrue to the Library.

Progress

Measureable positive results are:
Increased membership in the Friends organization by five-fold, growth in corporate support to 75 partners, branded author series, garnered local and national recognition for the Library, helped boost circulation increase by over 20% the past two years, drew largest crowds for most visiting authors on their book tour, and hosted a record number of authors in 2010.