How to find library supporters in the business world

SAGE Publishing is proud to announce the 2018 winner of the United for Libraries/SAGE Academic Friend Conference Grant, Dyanna Black.  Dyanna is the vice president of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Friends of the Library board, as well as chair of its fundraising committee. She will receive a travel grant and recognition at the 2018 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

Drawing from 16 years of experience in finance, legal, and consumer services, Dyanna has shared some tips for libraries seeking support from people in the business world. Check them out below.

What inspired you to begin your work in support of the UMKC library?

My son was getting ready to attend UMKC and I wanted to find a way to be involved and give back. When the nominating committee approached me, it was perfect timing!

How have you taken what you have learned in the business world and applied it to your work at UMKC?

I’ve been able to bring data analytics and strategic planning skills to our nominating process and our branding efforts. There are several key areas we look for such as diversity, experience in the sciences and technology, as well as traditional humanities. Our data analysis allowed us to assess the strengths and gaps of our current board and helped us find new board members would could add to the areas in which there were gaps.

Also my finance background is helping with our new fundraising initiatives.

What tips would you give to libraries who are looking for supporters from people in the business world?

Be open to thinking as businesspeople: return on investment, measure track and report on results, set a strategic direction and ensure that programs, events and new collections purchases align to this strategy, think long-term, not just about next year’s budget. Businesspeople have to prove the value of their programs and teams and must deliver against strategic priorities. Nonprofit entities can learn a lot from this “results-oriented” approach.

What are your top tips on leading a Friends of the Library group? In what ways do you keep your Friends of the Library group active and engaged?

We onboard new members and ask them “in what area do you most want to contribute” of our five strategic areas and make sure we plug them into ways to contribute. We assign a board mentor the first year for new members. We are careful to recruit only those with a commitment to UMKC, who will bring their best to the FOL board, and who clearly express how they’d like to contribute. We also have board socials, attend university events to support our school and the library, and our committees are very engaged. Plus we respect and value each others’ contributions. 🙂

We do have attendance requirements for board meetings, though our members are engaged and we don’t really worry about it.

This year, you’ll be attending the ALA Annual Conference for the first time. What are you most looking forward to?

Meeting like-minded board members and community leaders supporting their libraries, attending sessions on STEM, STEM+Art, technology, fundraising and re-branding. So very excited to hear Michelle Obama speak too!

Will you be attending ALA Annual this year as well? Follow @SAGELibraryNews to see what we’ll have in store for you. 

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