Advocate For A Public Good: Library Fundraising Ideas

Nikki DeMarco


The inimitable Nikki DeMarco is as well-traveled as she is well-read. Being an enneagram 3, Aries, high school librarian, makes her love for efficiency is unmatched. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, and is passionate about helping teens connect to books. Nikki has an MFA in creative writing, is a TBR bibliologist, and writes for Harlequin, Audible, Kobo, and MacMillan. Since that leaves her so much time, she’s currently working on writing a romance novel, too. Find her on all socials @iamnikkidemarco (Instagram, Twitter, Threads)

Libraries are the heart of communities. They are one of the only places people can go without having to buy something to participate, are centers of information, and offer free access to that information. The services offered by libraries help countless numbers of people. Programs that range from meditation to computer basics to offering mini-golf for teens. There are group gatherings to discuss  books of course, but you can also find Dungeons & Dragons games being hosted, author events, classes on money management, or arts and crafts classes like making terrariums or starting a bullet journal.

With all of the good libraries do, it behooves us to do what we can to help them in return. More money in the hands of libraries and librarians means more help for communities. Helping support libraries directly helps our neighbors and people in need. Here are a few ideas of how libraries can raise more funds for their excellent work.

Friends of the Library

Every library I researched and spoke to had a partnership with a Friends of the Library organization. These volunteer run, nonprofit groups raise money for their local libraries through grassroots movements. Book sales, author events, and collecting donations are some of the biggest fundraisers organized by these groups. To find a Friends of the Library group for your local branch, search Friends of the Library and the name of your county or city. Your library doesn’t have a local Friends chapter? Here is some information on how to get one started

Fund Libraries Campaign

The American Library Association has launched its annual #FundLibraries campaign. Advocating with your state and local officials is paramount in ensuring that libraries secure federal funding. The ALA has provided a list of senators and representatives who have signed in support of library funding. If your representative is missing from the list, they provide one page fact sheets by state, a way to invite members of congress to visit your library, and even a guide to write a letter that will be hand delivered to your congress member. Does writing a letter seem like too much trouble? They’ve provided pre-written tweets where you can add your congress member’s social media handle, copy paste, send tweet.

Team Up With Local Businesses

Libraries often have great meeting spaces. From smaller study and conference rooms to larger meeting rooms, libraries are designed with people congregating in mind. By charging a rental or hosting fee, libraries can earn money while local businesses can get cheap advertising or bigger venue space. Hosting a chocolate tasting paired with books, a morning coffee and book chat, or even a monthly or weekly food truck event can be a great way for libraries to fundraise. A library could also team up with local restaurants. The restaurant hosts book club meetings run by the library. Restaurants benefit with more customers on their slowest days and the library gets a commission. 

Naming Rights

The Jefferson County Public Library in Lakewood, Colorado, underwent a large renovation and allowed patrons to buy naming rights to the updated library. Patrons were able to donate money for rooms and services in the library to be named after them for up to three years or the useful life of the asset. 

Game Tournaments

Hosting a tournament with prizes, like gift certificates to local businesses or restaurants (maybe even donated prizes for the free advertising) can be a fun way to raise money. Bridge tournaments are a common fundraiser, like this one hosted by the Friends of El Dorado Hills Library, but this could extend to any kind of games tournament. The games could range from FIFA 2021 to cribbage. Charge a fee to participate and offer prizes and bragging rights for the winners.

Adopt a Book

Give patrons the opportunity to adopt a book at their local branch. This could be a conservation effort, like the British Library, where the giver gets a certificate and book jacket gift card as a keepsake, or to send to a recipient. Or it could be like the Scenic Regional library in Missouri, where patrons can commemorate special events like birthdays or graduation. A name plate with dedication will be placed in the book the patron chooses to adopt. There is a list of books available for adoption, or you can request a specific title for adoption with library administration approval.

Libraries are essential for healthy communities. They provide services and safe spaces for local neighborhoods. We need to support these institutions with our patronage and our money. These are a few ideas of ways that you can partner with your local branch. Be sure to reach out to your local friends of the library organizations or inquire about starting one if there’s a need in your county or city.