Rendition of new library

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

About Foundation Grants

And now it's 2015.  Maybe a good time for me to write a little background and foreground on foundation grants for the new library.  The status of our foundation requests is this: we have requested funds from five foundations; two have given us a total of $32,000, two have turned us down, and one has yet to be heard from as to its decision.  We have three more foundations that we will request money from in the next month or so, depending upon the foundations' expectations about when they will entertain requests.  This may leave you with some questions.

The most obvious one, probably, is why have we submitted so few proposals when there are so many, many foundations?  Short answer: That is very few foundations entertain requests for capital funding (ie, requests that involve buying, building, or renovating actual structures).  Very few.  We identified only 7 at the beginning of this year, and an 8th one that is a little dicey.  There are a number of reasons why foundations shy away from capital requests.  First, they are prone to thinking that buildings are likely to be associated with governmental structures.  Thus, one of the foundations that turned us down, specifically said, 'we don't fund public libraries.'  Their understandable belief is that if you are a governmental institution, you have the ability to raise money through taxation so you don't need foundation money.

Second, they are reluctant even if you are NOT a government entity (as we are not, even if the building we are remodeling belongs to such an entity) because capital funds require a lot of money in order for something actually to happen.  There's no point in their giving you $100,000 if you're looking to raise a half million or (usually) a good deal more unless there's some reason to believe you actually will raise the rest of the money.  You'd want to see some kind of track record, but for folks like us, there's no track record.  And if the applicant doesn't get all the money raised, it's not going to build 1/5 of a building as a fallback position.  So, most foundations just  don't get involved at all, or reduce their risk by entertaining requests only when you have most of the money on hand and guarantee a start date or have already paid for final construction plans.  One of the foundations we will go to in 2015 wants 'value-engineered drawings or the equivalent.'  We're not at that point yet, although we should be by this spring.

Third, many foundations have very specific areas of interest that don't include libraries.  They may be dedicated to projects that ensure better conservation practices or research, e.g., or medical care opportunities.  One of the foundations that turned us down thought that a renovated library wasn't close enough to its mission to help the poor.  We applied because we thought that a new library would fit the foundation's priorities: 1/4 of families in P.R. (2010 Census Data) have incomes below $25,000 (corrected number).  But the additional fact is that Point Roberts/Whatcom County also has a median household income that is somewhat higher than the county average in the state.  [The federal government has a rural economic development program that funds capital projects, but only in counties that are below the median income level.]

Fourth, the financial crash and its low-interest effect left lots of foundations with much smaller amounts of money to disperse.  As a result, even big places like the Allan Foundation and the Gates Foundation which, 5 years ago, supported capital projects in the Northwest, no longer do.  They support smaller, discrete program-like projects: helping people get health insurance, improving childhood literacy, preserving local history, etc.  Many of these programs could appropriately be conducted in the building we are renovating because it would have additional space, but giving priority to program funding instead of capital funding means that the foundations can't help build the buildings that the programs need in order to happen.

That is a brief explanation for why there are fewer opportunities for grants than we would like.  If you know of a foundation that will fund capital projects (and it's not the Norcliffe, Murdoch, Garneau-Nicon, McEachern, Archibald, Weinberg, or Kresge Foundation), send us a link to its site and we'll follow up.  Currently, we are in need of an additional $138,000.

And now, I'll start writing another request for funds.  Thanks for reading, thanks for helping us along on this common journey.  We didn't get to having $400,000 because Point Roberts residents and visitors didn't care enough to contribute.  And to those who haven't yet contributed and can, please join us as members of this community: it's everybody's library.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Message from the Outside World

The Bellingham Herald has published an article about our fundraising work for the library here in Point Roberts.  Nice to hear from the outer world.

My plan today was to bring to the Friends of the Library's attention to the fact that we have only 4 remaining days for the Matching Holiday Fund.  Most of it has been matched by 18 Good Friends members, but there is yet $3,000 that will either be matched to get us a total of $6,000, or will go away into the void that is unmatched funds.  A truly dismal outcome, that.  So, it's the end of the year and you'll get an IRS deduction.  And you will be getting a new library pretty soon.  And you will feel all warm and fuzzy in your generosity.  And you certainly will have all the thanks available from the FOPRL fundraising people!

Checks to FOPRL, to the library on Tuesday when it's open; to the mail, otherwise: FOPRL, PO Box 970, P.R., 98281.  Happy New Year.  Tomorrow, I'll write about Foundations and their ways.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mid-Season Catch-Up

I guess the season is the holiday one of Thanksgivings (Canadian and U.S.) and then the standard Christmas with all the other winter holidays clustered around it.  All those holidays of equal importance, of course, to those to whom they are important.

And then, the Library Fundraising business.  As you may know from Ed Park's letter to the editor in the November All Point Bulletin, we have--due to his decision to give his unexpected class action suit gains to the library fundraising--an $11,600 matching fund that runs to the end of the year, or until it runs out.  (If we don't match it, we have to give the unmatched remainder to Ed and he will have to go on a cruise or something.  Full disclosure: Ed is my husband, but his class action suit check is all his, or at least it's his until it is all the new library fund's.)

In these first three weeks of November, our fund has benefitted from $6,000 in gifts that will be matched.  Leaving us with another $5,600 yet to match.  So if you were thinking of making a holiday/year end contribution to the new library fund, this would be an excellent time.  You won't be surprised to hear that I think any time is an excellent time, but in this particular time, the matching fund makes it even more excellent.

The Christmas Craft Faire will have a table that Heidi Baxter and I will moderate with many objects whose sale proceeds will all be donated to the library.  Those sales will also be eligible for the matching fund.  The Craft Faire is December 6-7, this year, at the Community Center, of course.

Other news of the new library is that the Community Design Committee met with architect David King to work out some issues in library design.  Next, King will meet with Christine Perkins and Library Staff People to discuss their needs.  Judith Wolfman, who chairs that committee is happy to hear from anyone who has suggestions about library design ( and about what you'd like to see in your new library.  In the meantime, there are concrete (literally, in some cases) aspects of the renovation in process (completing a site survey, getting the current septic system assessed and documented, and getting a foundation profile determined).   It's pretty exciting to think that we are on the way to drawing up final plans.

Finally, there are the foundation proposals.  We have three of them out at present, and we could hear back at any time in the next three months from them.  They are for a total of $97,000.  So we will need to be sending out some more proposals when a few other foundations' submission dates arise.

And our totals now: $377,000.  Our goal: $538,000.  The Difference: $161,000.

At the Craft Faire: Library Folks Dolls with book bags and books.

A convention of Library Folks Dolls: 24 of them will be in attendance at the Christmas Craft Faire.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

End of Summer Progress Report

Every three or four months, we produce a progress report on fundraising.  And here's the current one for your information.  I want especially to thank Heidi Baxter, Tor Baxter, Margot Griffiths, Ed Park, Rose Momsen, and Steve Martindale for all their help this summer.  They are great supporters of the community that is Point Roberts and I am grateful to them every day for their ready response to need.  And thanks also to all the community visitors and members who have contributed in any way to the new library fundraising.

When we began this fundraising project, we allowed as to how it might take five years to get it done.  We're not yet at the end of 3 years, and we are about 70% of the way there, but we're not all the way there yet.  Keep us in mind as the year comes to an end, particularly with respect to tax deductible gifts. We still have a $40,000 match fund for anyone/any business/any family that is willing to donate $10,000.  We have had seven such donations so far from families, individuals, and businesses.  There's room yet for four more.

Friends of the Point Roberts Library Fundraising (New Library) Report, September 25, 2014

  1. The current total funds raised is $365,000 of a needed $538,000.
  2.   Although our primary focus this year is on foundation grants, we have also conducted an active summer program through the weekly Community Market, and various events (Annual Arts and Music Festival, Quilt Show, Community Yard Sale, book sales).  
  3. Foundation Grants:
 A.  We were about to submit our first foundation proposal in early March when we were informed by the IRS that our 501c3 status (approved in December 2013) had been revoked.  That turned out to be the result of an IRS error, but the IRS was unable to fully reverse the revoked status until June.  Thus, during that almost 3-month period, we were unable to submit any grant proposals.

B.  In June, we submitted two letters of inquiry (Umpqua Bank Community Giving and the Murdoch Foundation) and a full proposal (Norcliffe Foundation).  We were turned down by the Murdoch Foundation (because they do not fund public libraries).  Umpqua will donate $1,000 (it does not contribute to capital projects); Norcliffe responded with a $25,000 grant.
  1. We have submitted a proposal to the Garneau Nicon Foundation for their fall cycle of grant requests and a letter of inquiry to the Archibald Foundation. 
D.  We will submit proposals to two additional national foundations at such time as we meet their requirements for having “value-engineered drawings” or a construction contract, and to one other foundation with a January 2015 deadline.
  1. Planning Process.
  1. We have been working with the Whatcom County Library System and the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District to provide greater clarity to the original Memo of Understanding.  Three main issues of clarification include WCLS’s interest in being involved in building inspections and design plans; FOPRL’s interest in having an end-game strategy should there be a funding shortfall; and Park and Recreation’s interest in having clear lines of responsibility for building design and construction.
  2. The Park and Recreation Commission has named an architect to begin design work and has supported the creation of a Community Design Committee to work with the architect with regard to exterior design considerations.
  3. We continue to make good progress in fundraising and planning for a new library in Point Roberts and are confident that we will meet our goal.  We certainly appreciate all the help you have given us so far.

--Judy Ross, for the Friends of the Point Roberts Library

Monday, August 11, 2014

If It's This Saturday, It's a Quilt Show!

On Saturday, August 16, the Friends are sponsoring a quilt show (a retrospective of Judy Ross's 7 decades of quilting and 4 decades of quilts) where the drawing for the raffle quilt we've been selling tickets on will be completed by drawing for the winner.  Since it's a quilt show, it will also have a lot of quilts for people in the vicinity to look at.  And, since it's a quilt show, there will be quilts and quilted things for sale and a silent auction for such things, as well.

The Show will be held in the Community Center from 10-3.  From 2-3, Judy will do a walking tour of the quilts to explain how dramatically quilting has changed over the past 70 years, partly because of technology, partly because of feminism, and partly because an economy in high gear is anxious to sell just about anything to somebody, in this case quilters.  It went from a largely recycling activity and a home hobby to a giant business and an art field.  Says Ms. Ross (who is writing this blog post, of course), "It's been a fun 70 years, but it always saddens me some that all that change is largely invisible to everyone but quilters themselves.  So, I hope to do a show (at 2 pm on Saturday) that will help me to tell visitors about how some of that happened so that people will, I hope, begin to look at quilts with new eyes."

Please come, and please ask your friends and neighbors to come!  Admission by donation and all proceeds, including sales of quilts and quilted goods, will go directly to the new library.

If you can't make it (and why would that be?), the quilts will remain on the walls for the rest of that Saturday evening, so if you are going to the Joke Contest, you can look at them then, too, but you can't hear Judy talk about them except at 2 o'clock.

"Fireworks," 2014, 42"x60".

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer and the Library Fundraising

It's been a very quiet spring for us at Library Fundraising, largely because we have been waiting for the IRS to correct their error with respect to our 501c3 listing.  But It did finally get corrected which allowed us to return to fundraising this summer.

We expected to devote this year to applying to foundations and the like for significant grants, and that is still our plan although we're now about six months behind.  But we're on it.  Our current total funds raised is $327,000.  So, if we're aiming at $500,000, we'd need $173,000 more.  But, we're now aiming at $538,000 for a variety of reasons, not least the expectation that in the several years we've been raising these funds, the costs of building will have increased some so we want to go to the foundations with a more realistic cost appraisal.

We've had some good news and some not so good news on the costs of building: first, the initial assessment of the septic system is that it is adequate for the planned new library.  Having to replace the septic system would involve $30-$40,000, I am told, so that looks like it will be a big savings (assuming the final assessment is the same).  On the other hand, it turns out that there is an underground heating oil tank that will have to be drained and removed.  Fortunately, we have people involved who have a better understanding of the technical matters than I do.

Additionally, we have moved ahead on naming an architect in order to get the design work moved forward.  There are some foundations that will expect us to have something more like final design completed before they get involved in any funding.  We are hoping that architectural appointment will happen by the end of July and those drawings and plans will be available in the fall.

Finally, as to actual foundation proposals: we have identified 9 foundations whose interests match our project and who are willing to support capital projects in principle.  They have different requirements, purposes and schedules, so we can't just send 9 copies of our proposal out, but we have sent two (required) pre-proposals (called 'letters of inquiry') which are fairly brief applications asking to be invited to submit a full proposal.  And we have mailed out one full proposal.  We can expect fairly rapid responses to the Letters of Inquiry.  And one of them, the M.J. Murdoch Charitable Trust, has indeed turned us down because they 'don't usually fund public libraries.'  And we are, indeed, a public library, but their web page and instructions didn't mention that would be a limitation.

So, that's where we are right now: at 8 foundations.  We'll let you know what we know, what we hear, whenever we hear something.  The Norcliffe Foundation (in Seattle), to whom we sent a full proposal this week, will not make any decisions for about three months.

  In the meantime, we are at the Saturday/Community Market from 10-1 every weekend and hope you'll come by for news, plants, vegetables, quilted goods, other odds and ends of a yard sale nature as we have them, and to drop off any donations YOU'd like to make.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pam's Tiny Art Show

You've got thirteen days to get together a tiny art masterpiece to enter into Auntie Pam's Tiny Art Exhibit and Auction on March 22, 7 pm.  It will benefit the new library and even if you don't make a piece, we hope you will come to the party she is throwing and think about bidding on a piece.  We had a lovely time last year, and bought several beautiful little pieces of our community members' work.  And she raised almost a thousand dollars for the library in the process.

Pam has done a lot to support the library fundraising and we want to thank her for her help.  And help her back.  We are working to get foundation money this year, but money from the community continues to help, especially when we factor in the inflation factor for the original building plans.  (Which we got a fairly firm number this week from the architect...about $50,000 extra, assuming we're ready to go by January 2015.)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The New Library Project

Below is the brief summary of our new library project that we use to give potential funders a quick look at what we are doing and have done.  In case you know anyone or any institution (friends with a family foundation? former employers? philanthropic friends or relatives?) that might be interested in helping us, feel free to forward this to them.

 Brief Description of Point Roberts Library Renovation Project:
  1. We propose to remodel a building owned by the Pt. Roberts Park and Recreation Commission to expand the library from a 900 sq. foot to a 2,500 sq. foot facility which will provide sufficient space to meet the expanded services (especially digital) that libraries must provide and that are especially needed in a community as isolated as is Point Roberts (see below for detail).
  2. We have a Feasibility Study and design prepared by Whatcom County Architect David King, who has worked extensively in library design in the County.
  3. We have a Memo of Understanding between the Friends of the Library, the Pt. Roberts Park and Recreation Commission, and the Whatcom County Library Services that specifies that the Friends group will raise $500,000, the Park and Recreation Commission will oversee the remodeling of their building, and the Whatcom County Library Services will provide appropriate staff, equipment, and services to operate the library, including payment of utilities.  This MOU--which extends for 3 more years--will be converted to a legal contract within the next year.
  4. Over the past two years, the Friends of the P.R. Library has raised $320,000 toward this goal.  We have done this entirely within the Community, and this year we are turning toward state government and private foundations in hopes that we will be able to obtain the remaining $180,000.
  5. The Feasibility Study and the Memo of Understanding, as well as our IRS 501c3 status determination, are all posted on our website,

[Context: Point Roberts is an exclave in Washington State.  A peninsula of less that 5 sq. miles, with a resident population of under 1,500, the community is too small for any kind of self-governing status. The Point is an isolated area of the U.S./Washington State attached to Canada.  In order to reach the mainland U.S. (as well as the County and State of which we are a part), residents here must drive approximately 40 miles and cross two borders.  Our isolation from the rest of the County and the rest of the State makes it difficult to gain support, e.g., from major businesses because we have none operating here other than indirectly.  We have no reliable cell phone signal and the current library provides the only community wi-fi service.  On the other hand, it is a remarkably beautiful place to live.]

For additional information, contact judy ross at

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2013 Year End Report

Thanks to Tor, Judson, and Kristen, we now have 8 books up; more to come!

Here is our 2013 Year End Summary of the New Library Fundraising Project (It will also be posted on our website:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

To Whom Do You Make Out a Check?

Because the Friends of the Point Roberts Library is now an independent 501c3 group and able to issue tax exemption certificates for donations, checks no longer need to be made out to the Whatcom Library Foundation.  Instead, you can just make them out to FOPRL/Friends of the P.R. Library, with 'building fund' on the memo line.  We'll be getting some new forms soon, but for the moment, you'll have to rely on your memory.  Or check this blog post!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Friends Get Their Charitable Status

This week, the Friends of the Point Roberts Library heard from the IRS that we had been approved for 501(c)(3) status, which means that we can now issue our own IRS tax exempt receipts.  We applied over a year ago, so it was a long time coming and we are very grateful to the Whatcom County Library Foundation for providing that charitable tax exempt status for us for the past two years.  Now we can do it ourselves!  A step forward.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Good Old Year

We don't have the final totals for the year because there are a few checks that we know are coming but that we don't have in our Treasurer's hand yet.  But, for the record, it is definitely over $300,000.  Thanks to all.  And a happy new year, to all, as well.  We'll get you the actual total as soon as we can, and we will let you know what else we're doing to get this library built within the next couple of weeks.

--Judy Ross, for the Friends of the P.R. Library