The Big “Ask”: Turning the Page – Week Five

If there is one thing that is hard to ask for, I’d have to say it’s money. A close second would probably be asking that individual you have a crush on out on a date. Week five (5) of PLA’s library advocacy seminar series dealt with the former, the art of asking for money. By the of this blog entry you should feel less stressed with making the “big ask”.

Making a Compelling Case

We live in an era where both the cost of and the demand for services continue to increase. If institutions (e.g. libraries) are going to be able to keep up with the demand, they will need funding. Unfortunately there is not enough money to go around and many of these institutions are often battling for the same pot of gold. Therefore, libraries have to do everything possible to ensure they stand out from the hundreds, maybe thousands of requests that potential funders may receive. This begins with building an effective budget request.

The budget request should inform funders how much you need and why the funds are being requested. Funders will most likely allocate the most money to projects that are aligned with the community’s priorities and that they care the most about. Ensuring your request for funds illustrates this will increase the likelihood of receiving funds. Three (3) questions that can assist you in this process are:

  1. What are your community’s priorities?
  2. How does the library meet these priorities?
  3. How do you help shape these priorities?

The Five (5) W’s of Budgets

Basic guidelines for developing budget requests

  • Who makes the decisions?
  • What EXACTLY are you asking for?
  • Why are YOU asking?
  • Where should you go for money?
  • When is it due? Work backwards from the date of submission?

KNOW your unique funding challenges. It will aid you in developing a strategy to obtain/retain funding

All for One and One for All

When you make the request for public funds, it is important that there is a cohesive concerted effort. Advocates & stakeholders need to be conveying the same message regardless of who they are addressing. How do you make sure everyone included in the initiative are all on the same page? Some easy was to ensure this include:

  • Create a blog
  • Give workshops to staff and the public
  • Provide everyone with a “talking points” sheet to help remind them

Make sure all involved parties know about these information access points and encourage them to use them as necessary. What happens if all involved parties are not? Since being successful is all about communication, if you and your constituents are NOT sending a clear message, the public, funders and other stakeholders can get confused. With many other people also bidding for this money, they are likely to throw their hands up and say “forget about it”.

Final Words

Asking for money is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. To add to the chaos, the way libraries apply and receive funding differ from location-to-location. Furthermore, libraries in different regions have different funding models. To find out how your library gets funded contact your state library agencies, association, and budget office for some leads.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>