Making it Happen – November 7th Report
EveryLibrary is more than just an idea for voter outreach about libraries.
It is an active organization with hundreds of supporters who want to see a better outcome for libraries at the ballot box. November 7th closed our first round of fundraising, awareness building, and organizing. I want to provide you with some insights on our growth and accomplishments in making this idea a reality:
Fundraising - Direct Appeals
From September 5th through November 7th, 2012, EveryLibrary has been honored with donations from 284 people totaling $16,303 through the rally.org/everylibrary site and $150.00 by checks for a $16,453 total in funding support. The average donation was $57.49 - a significant amount on a per donor basis. The Rally site has our honor roll of donors and I've collected some of the best testimonials for your review.. Each one of you deserves personal credit for helping to give us a running start. These donations are being put to work immediately to fund the legal fees for our IRS filings, some prosaic items like the website and supplies, and additional outreach to secure the next level of fundraising support. We were very pleased to announce on October 25th that we were resetting the fundraising "progress bar" from our initial donation goal because of our new partnership with BFG, a national fundraising organization dedicated to progressive causes and candidates. We have an ambitious goal to raise $300,000 during calendar 2013 to maximize our ability to support each and every local library ballot measure during both the 2013 off-cycle elections and the 2014 congressional elections. With your support - and that of hundreds of other people - we will make that happen.
A key part of our fundraising success has been the state challenges, special events, and challenge pledges that we have been so fortunate to have. I want to thank several people personally for their help and support as state 'captains' across nine states: Lauren Comito and Rebekkah Smith Aldrich in NY, Turner Masland and Erica Findley in OR, David Boudinot and Jaime Hammond in CT, Peter Bromberg in NJ, Aaron Dobbs in PA, Cindy Fisher and Lesley Caldwell in TX, Jamie Hollier in CO, Toby Greenwalt in IL, and Mel Gooch, Andrea Davis, and Daniel Ransom in CA. These people committed their personal reputations to try and raise $1,000 each from their own state and local networks. Over a third of our current funding came through these state challenges. I can only say that I am humbled and grateful to you all for helping us to make this idea a reality.
Three anonymous donors made $500 individual challenge pledges to "double" donations from around the community. That $1,500 became $3,000 in support of our goals. (You know who you are and know that I am thankful.) Because of another anonymous $500 challenge pledge we ran a wonderful event with Librarian Wardrobe and watched as dozens of people submit pictures of themselves voting. Thanks to Nicole Pagowski for opening her site to this fun project. Paul Simms has our thanks, too, for publicizing EveryLibrary and donating the proceeds of the advocacy t-shirts sold during his amazing Biblio Follies event concurrent with CLA2012 in San Jose.
Awareness - Networks
During these first 8 weeks, the response from around the library community has been extraordinary. Several articles helped put us on the map, including an early profile from John Berry in Library Journal and interviews with American Libraries Magazine and Circulating Ideas, and Twitter coverage from InfoDocket. The community at the R-Squared Conference in Telluride, especially Stacie Ledden and Shelley Walchak, was so welcoming and encouraging. You couldn't ask for a better Day One. Many library bloggers posted about EveryLibrary, helping to set the stage. I've put together recap of the blogs but want to single out Stephen Abram, Hack Library School, Urban Librarians Unite, and David Lankes for their early support. And to the host of other people I consulted with confidentially prior to unveiling EveryLibrary, thank you. Your ideas and insights about the nature and character of a library PAC was invaluable.
On social media, we have grown our Facebook presence from zero to 1,503 people and have made over a hundred posts that highlight the important work we are doing. Your shares and likes help amplify those posts. On Twitter, our followers number around 380 and our 100+ posts have highlighted ballot measures all around the country. Andy Woodworth (@wawoodworth) deserves true thanks for being our biggest signal booster (and he coined #ELPAC as our very own hastag). On Tumblr, Kate Tkacik (thelifeguardlibrarian) has been an incredible ally and supporter. Her advice and assistance in getting the EveryLibrary page up - and her willingness to share about our work with her legion of followers, has been amazing.
It was my pleasure to announce that Erica Findley and Patrick Sweeney are joining the EveryLibrary board. Their personal commitment to building the first nation-wide PAC for libraries adds capacity to the cause. They will join me as we work with our legal counsel to file with the IRS and Illinois Secretary of State as a 501c4. Right on schedule. Erica will also work closely with our CPA as our treasurer while Patrick will help shoulder the load on IRS and other filings. They each will be out in the broader library community helping to tell the story of how organized national support will help local library ballot committees succeed.
As we move forward, we will be recruiting members of an Advisory Committee to help guide where we spend money and time. We are also assembling a Fundraising Committee to help us secure the resources we need to do great voter outreach and get-out-the-vote for libraries. As noted above, we now have a partnership with BFG to conduct fundraising from the "progressive" community for the cause. We are looking to enlist the support of a more traditionally "conservative" fundraising organization as well. There are many stories to tell about libraries. Once we have our initial filings completed we will publish our bylaws and charter for comment. It is important for us to be transparent about our goals, our organizational principles, and our support-base. Too many PACs operate in the shadows. EveryLibrary is not one.
What is Next?
We have work to do. There are dozens of races from the November 2012 ballots that need to be analyzed. The failures need a hard look; the successes too. EveryLibrary is looking for three or four ballot measures to specifically back during the 2013 cycle. We are starting to build the free toolkits that your communities can use to run your races. We will host another round of State Challenges soon (email if you want to participate).
It takes a lot of resources to talk to the public about how libraries change lives, how libraries build communities, how librarians are a part of not only the educational environment but also a resource to the business community. Thank you for putting an understanding that any library initiative anywhere should matter to every library everywhere into action. Thank you for helping to make it happen.