They were hoping for a break for themselves and for the local community.
Members of the board of directors of St. Pauls’ Annie H. McEachern Public Library met last Wednesday to discuss fundraising, specifically as to whether fundraising could be curtailed or dropped for a year.
Board members quickly found out that neither is possible for the foreseeable future.
County Library Director Catie Roche presented the board with its fiscal year 2012-2013 operating budget, which totals $46,500.
Of that amount, the St. Pauls library receives $12,000 annually from the Town of St. Pauls and $14,500 from the Robeson County Board of Commissioners.
This year, Roche was able to coax an additional $36,000 from the County for the library system, which she divided evenly among the county’s six libraries. So, even with the St. Pauls library receiving an additional $6,000 this year, meaning the library will receive a total of $20,500 from Robeson County, that still leaves a shortfall of at least $14,000. That shortfall must be met by the local library board, which calls upon the community to help raise it. They do so through a variety of fundraising methods. But those methods have felt the pinch of the still sour economy over the past few years, and fundraising has become problematic.
The board has already held its two most reliably profitable fundraisers of the year, a spaghetti plate sale and an auction, but both fell far short of previous years’ receipts. Other sources of funding, including memorials and class reunion gifts, have also fallen over the past several years. To date, the library has raised or received $3,392 since January toward its goal of $15,000 to cover basic operating expenses.
“We wanted to suspend or lessen fundraising obligations, but it is impossible to do so,” said Paul Terry, library board chair. “We really wanted to be able to skip a year of fundraising so the community could skip a year of giving, but we just can’t at this point. Maybe next year.”
Terry said that the library had suspended its annual letter campaign to businesses and churches for the past two fundraising cycles, and that helped lessen the burden on the community, which is besieged for donations by the library and other nonprofits throughout the year. “We wanted to give businesses a break, so we did not do a letter campaign requesting donations, but we will have to resume that method of fundraising,” Terry said.
The board discussed several other ways to raise funds. These include promotion of the Community Card program at Piggly Wiggly, where a shopper applies for a card, chooses the library as a recipient and swipes it at every purchase. The card does not cost anything and it does not increase costs of purchases. Piggly Wiggly generously donates a percentage of the receipt to the designated nonprofit. The board also decided to ask Food Lion to promote this community card program to benefit the library.
Another method of raising operating expenses is to participate in every Night Out, selling books and asking for donations. That began at the July Night Out, when Jessica and Jeremy Rogers and Terry set up outside the library.
Yet another method discussed is an annual Cookie Caper, where the area’s best bakers donate a cake or dozen cookies to be sold or auctioned ahead of the holiday season.
Raffles of TVs and other items were also discussed.
A final plan of raising money was to contact all area funeral homes and ask them to suggest the library as a recipient of memorial gifts for families that request memorials be made in a loved one’s memory.
“We truly appreciate the generous support that this community has provided the library over the years since it was established in 1972,” Terry said. “We could not have kept the doors open and we could not have grown and expanded services without that support. But it is clear that we will have to go to well again.”