As someone who has volunteered for non-profits most of my adult life, I know that fundraising is sometimes known as the F-word — because it’s hard, and nobody wants to do it. For many people wanting to raise money for a good cause, the prospect can be daunting: we all know how to run a bake sale, but what if cupcakes just won’t cut the mustard? Still more of us have a great idea, but not the means to articulate it for those would-be funders. Sometimes, it takes more than imagination.
Enter the library.
Oh, we’ve run some imaginative fundraisers over the years, from the Incredible Shrinking Tea Party to our more recent Oysters, Authors and Ale and the Storyteller’s Saloon. We published our knockout literary cookbook, Seasonings, (did I mention it was shortlisted for a national book award? And that it’s available for just $24.95 at the library and the Kootenay Co-op, and other locations? Real fundraisers never miss an opportunity). Our recent library renovation campaign raised a hundred grand.
But that’s not what I meant; that just means we’ve done our homework — and you can, too. Because what I was getting at is that library is the go-to place for fundraising skills and ideas, with resources to kick-start imaginations.
For those who like print, we have titles such as The Zen of Fundraising (for those who would make peace with the F-word); Fund Raising Realities Every Board Member Must Face (ouch!); Fundraising for Dummies (for those unashamed to admit it) and Storytelling for Grantseekers (for those hoping to hook the big fish).
Also for grant seekers we have two binders in our reference section heavy enough to save you a trip to the gym: they are the Handbook of Assistance Programs for Non-Profit Organizations, federal and provincial editions. These regularly updated binders include opportunities for everything from arts to education, environment to technology. If you can imagine it, there may be a grant for it.
There’s more: our newest database, Imagine Canada, makes the F-word almost F-un.
Imagine Canada is the Canadian Directory to Foundations & Grants delivered via online database, accessible through our library computers (on site). It contains updated information on over 2,200 Canadian grant-making foundations. In addition, the database includes over 150 American foundations with a history of granting in Canada. Imagine that!
To test, I did a simple search: I looked for granters who give to arts organizations in British Columbia and who support special projects or ongoing operations. Clearly, I need to narrow my search, as I came up with hundreds. Clicking on one result, I was able to receive full information on that foundation: how it operates, how and when it gives, and to what — everything I need to know to decide if it’s a good bet or a longshot. The site allows you to create a profile and save your searches. As an addition to our library resources, this is a great one.
So there you go: an ounce of information, a soupçon of skill, pinch of knowhow, a little imagination, and you have a recipe for success that’s way better than a bake sale.
Go ahead: spell the whole word. Then, take a deep breath and imagine.
Anne DeGrace’s library column is featured every second week in the Star