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Funding Sources for Youth Services

Budgets are tight for libraries statewide, and nationwide. Sometimes (if not more often!) you’d like more funding, materials, staff, and equipment for youth programs and collections. You are already resourceful, but here are a few ideas and sources for grants, in-kind contributions, and more.

What are some grant sources?

This is a big topic, but here’s a start.

Just a few of the many specific national grant programs for youth programs and collections:

There are some fantastic local/statewide/regional organizations that offer grant programs, too:

What resources are available to learn more about grants?

How can we seek in-kind contributions?

Depending on your library’s situation, it may be best to work closely with your Friends group on these ideas.

  • Approach local businesses for in-kind donations, or ask for discounts. Try for everything from pizzas for an end of the SRP teen party to discounts on books to gift certificates to free/ reduced cost ads in the newspaper or radio.
  • Ask local organizations, like Kiwanis, Rotary Club, Lions Club, churches, etc, to donate volunteer time or items like bikes and office supplies.
  • Seek volunteer help all over your community, including high schools!
  • For large events, like an SRP, author programs, or movie series, ask for community sponsors; these can be individuals, businesses, nonprofits, or other organizations.
  • Create a wish list or needs list and advertise it in your newsletter, website, and flyers. The list can include specific items like a 3-hole punch or fax machine, a call for volunteers for an event, or general or specific craft supplies. If you don’t mind receiving gently used items, include that info on the lists for a better success rate. For specific items, this approach sometimes works better than a general call for cash donations.

Tips for approaching your community for contributions:

  • Present statistics as well as personal anecdotes demonstrating how much your library accomplishes and its essential role in the community. National studies on library services can be powerful as well.
  • Demonstrate the need for the item sought and explain how the library will use it; for instance, ‘The library’s Teen Advisory Group has asked for a videorecorder to create videos to promote the library’s services to teens; we think it’s a great idea that will go far to attract new YA patrons and get them reading, but we don’t have the funds in the budget.’