Rendition of new library

Rendition of new library
The New Point Roberts Library Out of the Old Julius Firehall

Sunday, July 1, 2012

First Challenge

Raising money for any public project is going to involve asking people for money and maybe even from people you don't know.  For most of us, this is a pretty big challenge.  It is somewhat easier, I find, if you are giving donors something back, as public radio in the U.S. long ago discovered: a quilted bookmark, admission to a movie or lecture, a ticket on a raffle item, a premium, as these things have come to be called.  (I'd like to sail off on a discussion of why that word has risen to the top in this context, but that's probably for another time, another place.)

But the concept of the premium has always seemed a little strange because in the context of soliciting donations, what one is depending upon, what the fundraiser is appealing to is people's capacity for and willingness to act with generosity.  And if you are getting something in return, it does seem more like a commercial transaction than an act of generosity.  But I expect there is a place, in getting a job done, for many different strategies.

This Saturday, at the Saturday Market (held indoors again because of rain), I got to try a middle strategy, the Matching Challenge Gift.  In this case, a donor has agreed to match, up to $20,000, all the new money we raise for the new library  between June 30 and August 31.  That would be roughly $2,200 a week for the next nine weeks.  So, the pressure is on.

It was a frenzied day at the market because the vendors were pretty much all in the hallway of the Community Center.  That means it was noisier and thus harder to talk to people at all; that there was less space, so I didn't have all my premiums on display; and that I had to explain not only why they ought to make a donation but ought to do it now or pretty soon.

I have been impressed, each time I've been at the Saturday Market during the past weeks, with people's willingness to talk about the new library and how it will work and what it will mean for us in the community to have this kind of access to new technologies as part of going to the library.  Yesterday, I was even more impressed with their demonstration of generosity.  In barely two hours, people offered the community almost $500 toward this short-term goal, gifts ranging from a dollar to a $150.  And it clearly mattered to those donors that there was a matching fund: Those $455 dollars turned as we spoke into a total of $910 because of the generosity of the Matching Challenge donor.  Which almost gets us to another golden square on the Golden Showers Donation Quilt.

When one generous act meets and/or inspires another generous gift, it doesn't feel at all like a transaction, but instead...well, it feels like the way most of us want to feel in our days here in our community.  It feels like we are working together on a project we want for ourselves, for our families, and for the future of Point Roberts.  And that doing so is fun...and safe.

So, there is now left 8 weeks and 6 days to let your generosity meet the matching donor's generosity.  If you think you will be able to and would like to donate money to the library fund this year, this would be a very good time to do so.  If we are able to meet this challenge, by the end of August we will have $54,000.

 You can drop off your donation (U.S. or Canadian dollars) at the library's front desk.  Checks should be made out to Whatcom County Library Foundation, for the Point Roberts Library Building Fund.  If you want to mail it, instead, the Foundation's address is on the right hand column of this blog, or the P.R. Library's address is P.O. Box 970, P.R., WA 98281.  Just do it before August 31.  Please.

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