Woodstock Library trustees consider fundraising options

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

As Woodstock Library trustees begin preliminary talks with design contest winner Stephen Tilly for what would be a newly constructed library, they have sought advice from those with successful projects in other communities.

AnnaLee Giraldo, director of the Kinderhook Memorial Library spoke at the board’s December 20 meeting about their $2.3 million addition and renovation. It was pointed out that all funds for that project came from donations and grants in a community with a population similar to Woodstock. Kinderhook used Amherst, Massachusetts-based Financial Development Agency for both planning and fundraising. The agency conducted interviews of patrons through a third party outside of the library, Giraldo said, because people are more honest in a neutral setting.

Impressed with the results, the Kinderhook board used the same agency for fundraising.

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“We ended up raising $2.3 million in three years,” she said.

Though Kinderhook’s project cost under half Woodstock’s $5 million goal, it’s issues appeared similar. It wasn’t accessible to the disabled and spaces were not optimal. For instance, people had to walk through the director’s office to get to the bathroom.

Kinderhook, unlike Woodstock, opted for renovation with an addition because its original building was felt to have historical significance and as Giraldo noted, it was purpose-built as a library. Woodstock’s library was a home that was repurposed and added onto over the decades.

Just over $1 million came from one wealthy family, with the rest coming from the balance of the 388 donors. Giraldo said it is common for a wealthy donor or family to provide a substantial portion, which then gives motivation for others to contribute.

Financial Development Agency furnished Kinderhook with a list of potential donors, then board members accompanied agency staff on visits asking for contributions so there was a “familiar face” Giraldo said. Certain techniques, such as long-term pledges, made donating larger amounts more palatable, she noted. 

“If someone wants to give you $1000, they may be willing to give you $1000 a year,” Giraldo said, adding five-year pledges were successful.

The Kinderhook board signed the architect contract in 2009, but the local economy went south in 2010, so trustees opted to put the project on hold. By 2012, the project restarted in earnest and by 2014, the library kicked off a capital campaign.

By 2016, the library had enough money to build a reading room “as a show of good faith” because donors and patrons like to see that something tangible is happening.

Woodstock trustees plan to invite staff from other libraries with recent successful capital projects, such as Highland and Gardiner.

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