Case Study: Local Residents Vote for a Library and Affirm Their Roles as Shareholders

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It had been almost ten years since a community library in New York had received an increase to its operating budget from the town. Private funding and contributions helped, but the Library was facing a deficit that made it impossible to keep pace with the inflationary costs of salaries and healthcare. The library also feared that it would not be able to continue the quality of services the community had come to expect. In New York State, libraries can’t just request an increase from their town, though. It needs to go before a town-wide ballet and residents vote on whether or not the library should receive an increase (increasing their own taxes). The Library had never undertaken a public awareness campaign. Yet, without an increase in funding, the Library knew it would not be able to continue their level of service.

The Strategy

The Library reached out to Danosky & Associates to build a public awareness campaign that would ensure: 1) the library’s proposition for a budget increase would be included on the ballot in mid-term voting, and 2) the public would be well-informed on the fiscal and community value of the library’s services as they cast their votes. We launched a full engagement and outreach effort by doing the following:

  • Established a core constituency through analysis of library patronage vs. registered voters
  • Developed an online community survey to determine how the local community values its library
  • Used the community survey to prepare talking points and materials for library volunteers as they engaged the community to become the opinion leaders and supporters of the library
  • Implemented a strict timeline to rollout a series of structured marketing initiatives that would lead to an affirmative vote.

The Outcome

Following this eight-month long campaign, the proposition passed by a healthy margin. Not only did residents approve the increase in library funding provided by the town, many more residents learned about all the programs the library offers. And the library came away with information that can be used in future outreach, engagement, and a renewed vision of services.

Lessons Learned

  • The library gained valuable insight to the needs and expectations of its neighborhoods through a community assessment, engagement of key library stakeholders and volunteers, and recruitment of new members. It also learned how important it is to reach beyond its primary service area, as one area didn’t have as much support for the initiative because they weren’t included in the door-to-door outreach.
  • Boots on the Ground is not only effective in a campaign of this type, but it’s crucial to building trust. Library volunteers attended local civic meetings to present the campaign and answer questions; this put faces to the names associated with the library. Local businesses showed their support by agreeing to display window flyers which were branded for the library’s campaign and rotated on a monthly basis to inform the public on its programs and services.
  • When the public votes to tax themselves for a public library service, public libraries are generally better funded. This also allows residents to come away from an affirmative vote as not only a future patron, but a shareholder as well.

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When $1,000 is better than $1,000,000

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By Sharon Danosky

In a small town in Litchfield County, CT there is a fundraising festival called KentPresents which brings philanthropists together to learn about the local nonprofits and the work they do. They raise funds and give about $125,000 in grants to smaller, local organizations. Many of the grants are around $1,000. A relatively small amount, to be sure. But for many organizations – it can mean the difference between providing vital services or not. [Read more…]

Danosky & Associates Offers the Nuts & Bolts of Staying Afloat in Challenging Times

“I never served on a board and learned quite a bit about the purpose, the roles, the makeup, and the effectiveness. I plan to brief our organization on this and hopefully we can make some small improvements.”

“As a new organization, we can begin cultivating donors with a solid understanding of how to best retain them as supporters for years to come.”

These are the thoughts from attendees of the capacity building workshops facilitated recently by Danosky & Associates.

The work of nonprofits is more than important, it is crucial and life saving. But every day can be a struggle to maintain funding and quality services. Nonprofits need to stay on top of skills that will ensure not only their survival in these difficult times, but their growth as well.

IMG_8851Community foundations and experienced facilitators can provide useful, relevant tools through focused workshops — in this case, a series of capacity building workshops for smaller to mid-sized nonprofit organizations.

Danosky & Associates facilitated a series of these intensive workshops from April through October for Greater New Britain nonprofits, offering a top-to-bottom view on how to survive and thrive in challenging times. [Read more…]

Join Sharon Danosky and Other Veterans of Fundraising for the 2018 Principles of Fundraising Certificate Program

connecticut200x151Imagine that you’re somewhat new to the field of fundraising. Then picture someone offering you more than 150 years of combined insight and advice to get you started — all within five custom learning sessions over a period of just two months. Unrealistic? Nope.

Now in its 10th year, the Principles of Fundraising series of workshops provides high-caliber, basic-skills development in the art and science of fundraising for nonprofits. Created by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Connecticut Chapter, the series provides five introductory-level, half-day workshops focusing on theory and practice taught by AFP members who are experts in their respective fields. Workshops are designed to help new and established nonprofit organizations raise money more effectively and efficiently. [Read more…]

It’s a wrap! Nonprofit Leaders Complete the D&A LEAP Program

LEAP Grads 2Five leaders from five different organizations were sequestered behind closed doors, provided a case study for an imaginary organization, and then tasked to create and present a plan that offered a comprehensive solution to a complex challenge posed in the study. In this case, their imaginary counseling center had just learned that three teens had overdosed over the last weekend, and their center had been called in by the Mayor to address the situation. And just as they were closing in on a solution, they’re thrown “the curve ball” where a Danosky facilitator introduces another aspect of the issue: one of their counselors has just been arrested for possession. They must race against the allotted time to adjust their plan; just like things often happen in the real world.

Three hours after receiving their challenge case and its curve ball, they emerged with a solution and a direction that would allow their make-believe organization to succeed. This is the challenge that LEAP participants have to face in their last session. It gets the heartbeat racing! [Read more…]