Creative Fundraising Ideas for Libraries

head start fundraising ideas

Library Fundraising Ideas

Libraries are our greatest public institutions.  In one place, millions of ideas can be accessed by anyone in the community that can read. Where else can offer that volume of helpful information, all for free? Libraries are so important that they’re protected under the First Amendment.  It guarantees freedom of speech and the press, and the right for people to peacefully assemble. Library fundraising ideas – we have the profitable answers.

To be able to serve 21st century patrons, a library must brainstorm creative ways to generate funding for media, collections, staffing, and programming. Before you begin a fundraising campaign, however, make sure the library director or chief librarian is on board.  Libraries are usually funded with state taxes there are regulations on how fundraising can occur.

Common library fundraisers include:

Book Drive and Book Sale– Lots of libraries take old, donated, or extra copies of books, magazines, or media out of circulation to make room for new acquisitions. Many libraries have strict intake rules regarding donations but may be happy to use book donations to sell on the side for profit. You can scale this idea to fit the size of your library. For example, a small library on Orr’s Island, Maine, holds an annual Library Fair where there are games for kids, a white elephant auction table, a petting zoo, and a house full of books that sell for as little as  50 cents, $1, $2, and more.   There are endless choices for your reading pleasure.

Adopt A Book and Book Plate programs

A local artist, young or old, can design a beautiful book plate which can be prominently displayed at the circulation desk, encouraging book sponsorship for individual or gift purchases. Include a certificate with the book plate that can be delivered or mailed certifying that a book has been dedicated in the patron’s honor. Book plates can be a range of prices to encourage gifting at any level; there is no need for expensive bookplates, though they may be appropriate for unique or rare collections.

Publish a Wish List

One of the easiest ways to fulfill the direct needs of any organization is to publish a wish list—the original crowdfunding concept. Encourage librarians and patrons to brainstorm a list of needs, from acquiring more New York Times’ best sellers to crayons for the craft room or a roll of address stickers for the magazine stacks. Once the list is drawn up, make copies to send home with everyone who visits the library.

Holiday Fundraising for Libraries

You can count on librarians to tie-in the nearest holiday with books they have on hand, but why not plan an annual holiday fundraiser during New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas?  A beautiful calendar (designed for free by children, the community, or local artists) can be printed in bulk and sold to generate funds for the library’s monthly programming. Quality stationery (perhaps with an artist’s depiction of a holiday library scene) can be sold at the circulation desk to encourage patrons to mail friendly holiday hellos. Finally, erect a lovely, pine-scented Christmas tree with colored tags of new book titles and media available for adoption.

The American Library Association ( maintains a database of all types of funding sources, from fundraising ideas for academic and school libraries, to book donations, grants, and online funding campaigns. Check them out for more information. And of course, our friendly staff here at is here to offer you free advice and support with your fundraising ideas.