What Your $5 Donation Does for Libraries

One of the best parts of being the Executive Director for EveryLibrary is getting to open the mail. Seriously. I'm old enough to love regular mail. 

Most of our donations come in through the website and I read at least as many emails a day as you do. This week, we received two donations in the mail that made me pause. One was for $500 from a regular donor who wants to see our work grow and succeed. It's a big investment for this person in us. The other was for $5 and it came with a note in support of school librarians. I'm not sure which one touched me more. 

EveryLibrary's work is entirely supported by donors. Since 2012 when we launched this new idea for library advocacy, nearly 4,000 people have stepped up to donate. Our network of library advocates has grown to be over 350,000 Americans who care about libraries. We put all the donations to work in three ways: direct support for libraries - both school and public - when their funding is on the line; advertising to reach more Americans about libraries and our issues; and paying good people to do great work.

About half of our donors are "small donors", and that is edifying. Our average monthly donation is $7.26 and our average annual donor is $46.00 a year. EveryLibrary can get a lot done for libraries if we have a big enough base of supporters. And I'm thrilled to see that grow every year. The other half of our donor support is from library vendors and companies who understand their role is to give back in support of librarians and not just sell things to libraries. That's an important distinction. There are lots of good companies that serve libraries. We are happy to be an advocacy partner with those that see this as an ecosystem and not just a market. 

But then there are the $5 checks like the one that came in last week. I can tell you from our wins that EveryLibrary will take that $5 donation and help secure $8,000 in stable funding for libraries. That's what our donor "return on investment" is because every $1 we raise helps us secure over $1,600 in stable library funding. But I also know that this $5 donation represents a lot more to this donor than a simple vote of confidence in our work. That $5 donation represents a kind of hope that through our work, libraries will still be open tomorrow. It's a hope that I share. It's why we called the organization EveryLibrary. It comes from our mission statement: "any library funding crisis or opportunity anywhere should matter to every library everywhere." 

Yes, that $500 donation is wonderful - no question about it. With $500 we can reach 150,000 more Americans with a call-to-action on social media about libraries, museums, and the humanities. And that helps us help librarians fight cuts and win new funding. I'm excited to put that $5 donation and this $500 donation to work in smart ways for libraries. I hope you would like to share in that mission too by donating today. Whether it is a public library at the heart of a community, a school library as the largest classroom serving all kids, or a library on campus that empowers the next generation of learners, I am proud that EveryLibrary can be there. 

I can't promise a win every time. I can promise we'll fight to make sure our libraries are open and our librarians have what they need to serve everyone.