Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What to Do When Your Budget is Cut: Part Two

Money has really been tight for education lately. Every year, my budget gets cut a bit more than the last year. I have been racking my brain trying to come up with new ways to fundraise. I would love to hear your stories about how you were able to get extra money for your library.

1. Alternatives to Facts on File- The databases included in our school package are terrific, but the cost of $800+ is something we can't afford. The Facts on File databases we had were: World Geography and Culture Online, American History Online, Modern World History Online, American Women's History Online, African American History Online, American Indian History Online, Ancient and Medieval History Online, Science Online, Fergusen's Career Guidance Center, Bloom's Literary Reference Online and the Curriculum Resource Center.  I currently have created 119 pathfinders which cover everything from African American Scientists and Inventors to Young Adult Authors. Students know that I have chosen all the links so that they can trust them.

Several databases from EBSCO, which are provided for free for us from the NJ State Library:  Student Research Center, Literary Reference Center, Points of View, Funk and Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia and Novelist Plus. If your school doesn't have direct access to EBSCO, try your public library and maybe students can enter through their site by using individual library card numbers.This year I noticed that we no longer have three important databases: History Reference Center, Science Reference Center and Business Source Premier. Even the free stuff is being cut!

2. Alternatives to magazine and newspaper subscriptions- We used to subscribe to about 24 magazines, and I will be forced to weed out about half. BUT.....I was very happy to find that many of them including Consumer Reports, (full text 1991-present) TIME, (full text 1990-present) American History (full text 1994-present) plus many more are available through EBSCO.  Many magazines have web sites, (another choice) but you can't always find full text articles there. Digital subscriptions cost money. Now, all this online viewing brings up another problem: without any computers available, how do students read online? I wonder how schools with iPads are utilizing them. If you are one of those schools, I'd love to hear from you.

Our school is fortunate to receive free access to the digital editions of The New York Times and our local county paper, The Record. Unlike the web sites, this digital edition is like reading the actual newspaper, page by page. Check and see what local newspapers have to offer your school.

3. Amazon School Rewards- For the past two years, we have been using Amazon School Rewards to raise money without asking people to open their wallets. Simply by entering the site through our link, we receive advertising fees based on what items are purchased. I chose for us to receive that money in the form of gift cards, which I then purchased books with by entering the site through our link. The more people you get on board, the more money you will make.

4. Raffle- Two years ago, our library raffled off an iPod Touch and made a profit close to $200.00. The following year we did an iPad2. It may seem like small change, but the hundreds add up.

5. Grants- Writing grants takes a lot of skill, which is why there are people hired who do nothing other than write grants. Here are some resources for writing grants:
Grant Writing Resources -from
Guide to Writing a Funding Proposal
Writing a Grant Proposal- extensive information from Columbia University

If you would like to start looking for grants right now, try these sites:
Classwish- teachers create their own wish lists for classroom supplies; donors assist in the purchase
Digital Wish- various subject areas available, from art to writing
DonorsChoose- submit your request and donors can choose your school and contribute to your project
Donors Forum- tips on fundraising and more; free webinars
Education Funding Watch
GivingGetting- donors are linked with school in need

The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation- designated for instrumental music education in schools.
Target Field Trip Grants-  since 2007 they have awarded $9.76 million dollars in grants!
Touching Lives Through Theatre Grants

6. Fundraising- It can be candy, cookies, wrapping paper or an event at your school. Having my library council kids sell items is not on my to-do list. During the school year, students have to sell for their classes. It seems that at any given time there is some kind of fundraiser going on. I personally stay away from this type of fundraising. But there are other ways that school libraries can raise money:
  • Birthday Book Club- create your own wish list and have parents purchase one of those books to honor their child's birthday. (This works for the younger grades--  older grades can just have a wish list of books.) The donor's name will be placed on a bookplate.
  • Auction Author-Signed Books- if you are able to get a well-known author to sign copies of their book, you can then have an auction or raffle to raise money.
  • Scholastic Book Fair- for elementary grade schools; the library can earn money based on the number of books sold.
  • Box Tops for Education- usually used for grades K-6; school community collects these labels from various foods and purchases can be made from over 400 stores.
  • Sponsor an Event- how about pudding wrestling or a talent show? I was thinking about a tamer version of MTV's Silent Library. Think out of the box and be creative!
  • Book Sale- when you weed your collection, you can always have a book sale. (Donated paperbacks are great to add)

***What do YOU do to stretch your dollars? Please comment below.***

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