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MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Favorite 'Mini-Grant' Program Returning In 2020

Posted by jim on December 06, 2019

Speaking of revamped websites, NLLD is not the only one to boast a new and expanded online presence this year. The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation – administrator of the ever-popular Keats mini-grant program – also has a new site, just in time for the 2020 cycle.

Named after the bestselling and Caldecott Award- winning illustrator, this Foundation offers 70 annual “mini-grants” to public libraries and schools, to put on whatever children’s program they desire. Since the Foundation’s inception, the program has awarded nearly $1,000,000 – that’s a lot of mini-grants!

Need inspiration? The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation’s recently remodeled
 website is chock full of replicable examples. For instance, the most recent Minnesota grantee (Beaver Lake Education Center in Maplewood) self-published a “collage homage” of a favorite Keats book, by having each classroom contribute a page in a different artistic medium (paper mache, oil paints, etc.)

Mini-grants are capped at $500. Applicants seeking consideration in 2020 should submit their materials online by March 31, 2020.
 Click here to learn more.

Note: Friends of the Library organizations are ineligible for this program unless partnering directly with their affiliated Library. If, for whatever reason, this presents an issue for your hoped-for program, consider MALF’s own
 Chris D. Olson Event & Programming Grant as an alternative!

You’re never too young to be a user of, and lover of, your library. In this spirit, United for Libraries invites Friends groups to partner on its impactful and long-running Books for Babies program in 2020. 

What’s it all about? In brief, the Books for Babies team assembles inexpensive “gift kits” specially tailored to parents of newborns. Contents include an informational booklet and brochures on developing early literacy skills, one or several “Baby’s First Book” boardbooks, a bib, and “Baby’s First Library Card” (to be exchanged for the real thing at your local branch!)

How do these kits get into the hands of new and expectant parents? Organizations (typically but not exclusively Friends of the Library) purchase a number of their choosing for their area. Many supplement the kit basics with more local resources: brochures and magnets promoting your library’s pertinent services, a calendar of upcoming storytime dates, a Friends membership flyer, etc.

The customizability options are nearly endless, but the objective remains the same: “encourage parents to engage in developmentally helpful literacy activities, and instill a love of libraries from a young age.” 
Click here to learn about package pricing (starting at $8/per), recommended distribution strategies, success stories, and more.

MALF Member Survey - Last Chance!

Posted by jim on November 14, 2019

Heartfelt thanks to the dozens of you who have taken time to fill out MALF’s online questionnaire. Your input has exceeded our expectations – both in terms of the sheer number of responses, and the frank, usable feedback we will be able to tap as our Board of Directors charts MALF’s future.

In light of this positive response, we are extending the survey window. You now have until Friday, November 15 to tell us: “How can we help you help your library?” (On average, respondents to date have taken 8-12 minutes on the questionnaire, so the time commitment is a modest one.) Click here to take part!

The Loft Offering 'Bring the Loft to You' Class Series

Posted by jim on November 12, 2019

We never tire of stories about Friends providing financial or organizational support to host programs – particularly programs that their library would not be able to offer without private support. In that spirit, we are excited to share word about The Loft Literary Center’s new traveling class circuit. Bring the Loft to You features more than 70 customizable programming opportunities. These range in focus and flavor from memoir writing and breaking into the publishing world, to blogging or writing compelling college essays.

Qualified instructors are eager to bring The Loft’s nationally reputed curricula to libraries, schools, workplaces and other venues beyond the Twin Cities. Visit their website to learn more, and to seek a quote. Price structures begin at just $250 per contract hour.

Giving Tuesday 2019 Is Fast Approaching

Posted by jim on November 08, 2019

November and December are a crucial time for any nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. According to one recent estimate, 30 percent of all charitable gifts are made in December alone.

Unfortunately, the corollary to this statistic is that nonprofits must compete with one another for notice and donor dollars during this key window. As an alternative (or supplement to) next week’s competitive Give to the Max Day – and in an effort to beat the glut of year-end communications your donors will doubtless receive from other organizations – consider Giving Tuesday.

Brainchild of the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday falls the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and is intended as a charitable counterweight to the commercialism of Black Friday. Since its inception in 2012, nonprofit fundraising on this day has ballooned from < $20 million to upwards of $400 million.

Now a standalone organization with leadership support from the Gates Foundation, Giving Tuesday offers nonprofits of all types a valuable toolkit, communications templates, and other tips for making the most of this giving “holiday.”  

Last year, dozens of Friends of the Library groups – from Jacksonville, Florida to Lansing, Michigan, to Redding, California – got in on the action. There is still time to make plans before the eighth annual Giving Tuesday on Tuesday, December 3. You can
 click here to learn more!

Give to the Max Day 2019

Posted by jim on October 22, 2019

Last year, Friends from Duluth to Rochester and many points in between raised thousands of dollars as part of Minnesota’s unofficial giving holiday, Give to the Max Day. In total, donors raised a whopping $21 million for nearly 5,500 good causes.

Don’t leave your slice of the pie behind for Give to the Max Day 2019!
 Registering your nonprofit is easy; but you will want to do so well ahead of the big day, November 14. Many donors select their favorite causes and pre-schedule their gifts ahead of time. Registering also puts your Friends in contention for “golden tickets” -- $500 bonuses given by lottery to participating organizations. Additional tips and tricks for coordinating a successful GTTM campaign (including promotional tools and workshop opportunities) are available here.

Happy National Friends of Libraries Week

Posted by jim on October 17, 2019

October 20-26 marks National Friends of Libraries Week (NFLW). Now in its 14th year, this annual celebration of Friends is sponsored by the American Library Association but powered by you. Ways to observe NFLW are as many and varied as Friends’ valued contributions to their libraries. In recent years, we have heard of bookmark design contests, in-library scavenger hunts -- and taking the cake, pun intended, on-site baking demonstrations by local cookbook authors.

Odds are, if you are choosing to partake, your own celebration will not be quite so imaginative (or messy). Fundraisers, membership drives, and recognition ceremonies are far more common Friends of Libraries Week tie-ins. (
Click here for ideas, plus ready-made graphics and a host of other resources.)

Regardless of what you do, the American Library Association wants to hear about it! United for Libraries – the Friends arm of ALA – will award two monetary grants to participating organizations through it’s National Friends of Libraries Week Award contest. While innovation is looked upon favorably, visibility and results are more important still.
 Click here to apply. Be sure to do so by December 10.

Help Us Help You Help Libraries!

Posted by jim on October 09, 2019

Public libraries are constantly evolving, and it is incumbent on Friends of the Library to change with the times as well. With this in mind, the board of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends likes to “step back” periodically to reevaluate our services and organizational priorities.

At its core, MALF exists to serve you – Friends at the local level. We would greatly appreciate your candid feedback on this brief survey. Please participate by November 4. And if we could ask for just one further favor... please share the link with your Friends network!

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