Knoxville Public Library “Connect to the Next Edition” Capital Campaign
In a world of increasing connectivity, where news, music, videos and even books can be accessed in the palm of your hand, how do you convince a community to support a library expansion? This was the challenge faced by the leadership of the Knoxville Public Library.
The need for an expansion was clear and was pointed out in a space assessment conducted by the library. Despite having more active users, the Knoxville Public Library was half the size of libraries in similarly sized communities. In addition, the community meeting space often had to turn groups away because of limited size and increasing demand.
The library secured a $2.5 million bond to help pay for part of a nearly $4.5 million expansion and renovation project. With limited fundraising experience, however, the remaining funds still posed a significant challenge.
The Knoxville Public Library (KPL) engaged AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising to conduct a feasibility study that would determine if the necessary funds could be raised, as well as recommend the best way to do so.
In speaking with members of the community, it became clear the important role the library played in this blue-collar town of about 7,000 residents. Community members touted the importance of a community meeting space, a resource that wasn’t available anywhere else in town. They also spoke about the importance of children’s programs that spark interest and imagination, and how valuable a strong library is to attract and retain residents and employees. Another benefit the library provided was free internet access, something many may take for granted, but which is essential for students doing homework or people applying for jobs. It’s about more than just books!
But even with a clear need, KPL still required donor support. The feasibility study conducted by AMPERAGE concluded that, although the pool of leadership gift prospects was small, they were very supportive of the project. AMPERAGE recommended moving forward with a $1.75 million campaign.
The information gathered in the feasibility study helped form the Connect to the Next Edition theme and emphasized the important role that a library plays in a community — serving as a connector to new ideas, other residents and even a literal connection to the internet. A team of committed volunteers was assembled and trained in fundraising, and important lead donors were cultivated and asked to make the very first gifts in support of the campaign. Lead gifts from large employers in the area provided important springboards into the public phase of the campaign.
Volunteers also made calls on key community members to secure their commitments. An end-of-year direct mail campaign and Enhance Iowa award of $425,000 pushed the library over its $1.75 million goal late in 2017.
With the help of a strong case and a group of committed volunteers, the Knoxville Public Library broke ground on its expansion in the spring of 2018, having successfully raised $1.85 million.
“AMPERAGE eased the project along with their professional counsel and expertise. A capital campaign takes 100 percent dedicated time and effort and AMPERAGE helped us direct a campaign that was strong and effective. They kept us on task
and by doing so, gave us amazing results that will benefit our community for many years to come.”
Director, Knoxville Public Library
September 21, 2020