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MALF Blog

Minnesota Association of Library Friends

Mark Your Calendars: MLA 2018

Posted by jim on March 12, 2018

With another Library Legislative Day “in the books,” preparations for the Minnesota library community’s other tentpole event – the annual Minnesota Library Conference – are underway. Mark your calendars for October 11-12!

MALF is proud to continue is premier- level sponsorship of the MLA Conference, and to host a day-long programming track specific to the needs and interests of Friends of the Library. Full panel details will be made available this summer; registration opens August 1.

We sincerely hope you will join library staff, administrators, and Friends from across the state in Saint Cloud at the River’s Edge Convention Center. MALF members pay a reduced rate of $71 for entrance on Friends Day – if booked before the early bird deadline of September 5. Price for one-day Friend of the Library admission jumps to $93 after that date.

How Friends Attract Younger Donors, Pt. 1

Posted by jim on March 09, 2018

MALF is pleased to present this three-part miniseries on Millennial donors, adapted with permission from a piece originally prepared by and for Library Strategies, our office management firm. We know that this is a topic of great interest to our membership.

Nearly 85 percent of employed Millennials (age 18-34) donated to a charitable cause last year, according to a recent Millennial Impact Report. That’s impressive in itself – and doubly so when you factor in that America’s youngest working generation is also its largest. Eighty-five percent of Millennials translates to 67 million donors!

Furthermore, data from a recent, “buzzy” Pew Research Center report certifies what front-line librarians have been saying for years: Millennials are active and proud library users, and (on the whole) use their local library more often than older generations. In short, if your Friends organization is not courting the largesse of these younger donors, you are almost surely leaving money on the table.

What’s the catch?

Millennials choose their causes, and how much to give, based on patterns and preferences that may come as a curveball to any fundraiser versed in what’s “tried and true” among older givers. Savvy library support organizations must learn both the best practices and faux pas of this new giving landscape.

Offer “Participatory” Giving Opportunities.

According to the Millennial Impact Report cited earlier, an astounding 64 percent of young people have participated (actively or passively) in a walk, run or cycle event for charity. Collectively, nonprofits netted an estimated $1.2 billion through such events in 2012 alone. That’s nearly double what participatory giving opportunities brought in back in 2002.

Young donors are disproportionately represented here, and the reasons for that are twofold. Young adults are not as affluent as their parents and grandparents. Participatory giving opportunities along the “Fun Run” model allow young people to give as little as $5.00 to a friend’s race fund, and still feel the peer affirmation and vicarious commitment of the person they are donating “through.” Under other circumstances, the donor might not view such a gift as appreciated or worth the effort.

Second, participatory giving opportunities allow a young donor unable to contribute substantial funds to have a comparable impact by freely offering their time and enthusiasm instead. (Unsurprisingly, parents and grandparents are oftentimes big contributors.)

Ramsey County Public Library in Minnesota and Person County Public Library in North Carolina are among the many who have had recent success with “Fun Runs.” Others add a fresh, library twist. Read-a-thons and overnight lock-ins have proven equally effective at marshaling pledges.

Emphasize Cause Over Organization.

This is a generation who thinks critically about who they give to and what impact their dollar is having. Furthermore, compared to their parents, few young donors are “brand loyal” – they will jump ship if another charity with an allied mission looks to be more effective.

For these reasons, mammoth nonprofits with multi-pronged missions have had trouble attracting and retaining younger donors in recent years. It’s not always easy for an organization like United Way to trace a clear line between donation and dividend.

Library support organizations should not expect young donors to rally to them “because libraries need our support.” Instead, cite the added value the Library is able to offer to the community because of private donations routed through the Friends or Foundation. For example: “Your donation of [$x] will allow us to add [x] new titles to our recently expanded children’s area.”

Assuming the money will be put towards the same purpose regardless, employing special asks for specific needs is the perfect way to harness this “cause over organization” mentality.

Hypothetical examples are sometimes appropriate, if based on sound math. In an end-of-year appeal, this might take the form of “In 2016, you donated [$x]. That’s the cost equivalent of [xx] one-on-one tutoring sessions at the Library or [xx]…”

2018 Innovations in Reading Prize: Apply Today!

Posted by jim on February 16, 2018

Untitled.jpgLast year, entrepreneur and social justice speaker Alvin Irby made waves with “Barbershop Books”: a grassroots movement to encourage young boys of color to read to their neighborhood barber in exchange for a free or discounted haircut. CNN, MSNBC, NPR and a host of other media outlets recently ran glowing stories on the positive community impact Barbershop Books is having. Irby and his colleagues owed that boost, in part, to the National Book Foundation, who bestowed its 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize to Barbershop Books.

Has your Friends of the Library group created, or contributed to, a new and innovative reading initiative over the past year? If so, the National Book Foundation wants YOU to put forward your program or project for consideration as part of the 2018 Innovations in Reading Prize cycle.

Parameters are relatively broad, provided your program “sustains a lifelong love of reading.” Five groups and projects will be honored at the 2018 Why Reading Matters Conference. Top prize also receives $10,000! Applications can be submitted online. Submit yours by February 28.

Minnesota Library Legislative Day Registration Opens!

Posted by jim on February 06, 2018

In today’s uncertain budgetary climate, it is more important than ever to advocate for the public resources we hold dear. If you are reading this, it’s safe to assume that libraries make your personal list!

We hope you will join MALF, MLA, and library supporters from all across the state on March 5-6 for 2018 Minnesota Library Legislative Day. Held each year at the Capitol, this is our best opportunity all year round to turn out in force and state a case for robust library funding in front of our elected representatives.

Festivities kick off at the Roseville Public Library on Monday, March 5 with an evening briefing focused on challenges and goals this congressional term. Optional dinner opportunities will follow. Registrants will meet in small groups with their reps on the following day, per usual.
 Click here to register!

In preparation for this year’s festivities, organizers have rolled out a brand new website. This new resource offers a wealth of valuable data: legislative updates, an itinerary, talking points, and a “tool kit” for success on the Big Day. Be sure to check it out!

MALF Seeks Treasurer; Help Spread the Word!

Posted by jim on February 02, 2018

downloadsa.jpgHave a head for figures, and a heart for libraries? MALF’s treasurer is slated to rotate out of that important role by 2019, and we are currently seeking a replacement to assume those duties after a long transitional period. Read on for full details.

If interested in this – or in contributing to MALF’s board or committees in some other capacity – send a brief cover letter and resume to info@mnlibraryfriends.org. Our nominating committee will respond promptly!

Primary Duties
● Serve on the board of directors, and on MALF’s executive committee (alongside president, vice presidents, and secretary).
● Maintain the organization’s checkbook and bank account.
● Collaborate with MALF’s hired accountant to record expenses and income streams.
● Lead the Board of Directors in a quarterly review of financial reports created by the accountants.
● Chair MALF’s finance and investment committee.
● Collaborate in creation of an annual budget.
● Meet quarterly with MALF’s investment advisors.
● Participate in – and make data available from – annual internal audit.
● Renew MALF’s memberships with affiliated organizations (e.g., Minnesota Council of Nonprofits).

Requirements

● Must be able to commit at least six hours per month to above activities.
● Prior experience or great familiarity with library organizations is not required, but a commitment to MALF’s mission and values is a must.
● Strong communication skills, and timely responses to all phone and email queries.
● Must maintain a personal MALF membership (minimum $10/yr).

Additional

● All meetings of the full Board of Directors, executive committee, and finance and investment committee are held in the Twin Cities.
● Note: Accountants, not Treasurer, prepare MALF’s quarterly finance reports and annual tax forms.

hqdefault.jpgIn the coming weeks, thousands of Minnesota schoolchildren will pen letters to their favorite writers, living or dead, about how that author’s work has changed them or their world view. It’s not merely a fun creative exercise – though it certainly is that. All across the country, students 4-12 are tackling this writing prompt as part of “Letters About Literature.”

The Library of Congress kickstarted the program back in 2000, and continues to provide oversight. However, entries are judged and prizes awarded on the state level. Here in Minnesota, the state’s Center for the Book coordinates first- and second-round judging. With so many entries incoming, coordinators are seeking volunteers with librarian, educator or experience (professional or volunteer) to read and assess letters. ‘Workload’ is projected to be approximately 50 one- to two-page letters per judge.

Entrants are judged by age category (grades 4-5, 7-8 and 9-12). If you have preference(s), be sure to mention these in your email. Letters ranked highly by you will be considered for statewide (and ultimately national) award consideration. If interested, contact with Alayne Hopkins (alayne@thefriends.org) for more information or to put your name forward.

"Minnesota Libraries Transform Because…"

Posted by jim on January 12, 2018

In the past year, frequent and attentive library goers may have seen tantalizing "Because" statements plastered to their library’s walls, doors, and shelf endcaps. ("Because access equals opportunity." "Because a library card is the most important school supply of all."). These messages are the output of a viral publicity campaign conducted by the American Library Association. “Because” statements answer the rhetorical but important question: Why are our libraries so important?

This month, in response to ALA’s phenomenal success on the national level, the Minnesota Library Association's new Legislative Working Group just announced a tagline contest of its own: "Minnesota Libraries Transform Because…"

Entering is simple! Complete the sentence, and post to Twitter along with #mnlibrariestransform. You are welcome to submit your entry online, instead. Collected submission may be used in collateral materials created for Minnesota Library Legislative Day and Virtual Library Legislate Week 2018 (scheduled for March 5-8).

One lucky winner will also receive a large, decorative print of their “Because” statement (and bragging rights, to boot)! Make sure you submit your entry by Friday, February 2. Good luck!

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download.jpgYou may not know the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) by name. However, every time you visit a public library, you have the IMLS - in part - to thank for the amenities you used and the service you received. Among other duties, IMLS stewards Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) funding, the only federal dollars exclusively set aside for libraries.

LSTA is the pot through which 1,500+ state grants are funded each year. In recent years, Minnesota's population-based allotment has hovered around $2.7 million, so much is at stake!

In the coming months, IMLS is up for reauthorization (a piece of legislation passed by Congress certifying a program or department’s continued relevance). IMLS and LSTA were last reauthorized back in 2010. With a new and uncertain fiscal year on the horizon, authorization is perhaps more important than ever.

Constituents can contact their congressional representatives and encourage them to support bipartisan bill “S. 2271” (aka Museum and Library Services Act of 2017) in the Senate. You can read more about the renewal bill here.