There was happy news in the FaceBook Big Dog Community this week – the checks are in the mail!
It’s easy to think of the Big Day of Giving (Big Dog) in terms of the money raised, prizes won or just sheer exhaustion. Those are wonderful – well not the stress – but just the tips of the iceberg especially for a small town, all volunteer, organization like the Winters Friends of the Library (WFoL).
Here is a peek beneath our most obvious Big Day of Giving results:
We increased the visibility of WFoL and the community of Winters in the surrounding region!
More people know about
- How important our library is to the community and its impact on literacy, education and opportunity
- WFoL’s mission and programs and what we bring to our town in addition to library support
- How Winters individuals, organizations, and business work together to make the community better for everyone
We’ve been showcased as an example of a mighty underdog by the Sacramento Regional Foundation on their blog, at trainings, and in a national philanthropy article. Kind supporters have promoted us to their followers on social media channels.
Our City Manager told about a relative attending a Big Dog training for his non-profit organization: “He said he walked in the room and all he kept hearing was Winters, Winters, Winters. You (WfoL) put us on the map!”
New volunteers joined us this year after hearing about us for the first time during last year’s Big Dog campaign and events. New volunteers bring their ideas, talents, and networks to the table and make the buffet bigger for all of us. Here are a few examples:
Tamsen Schulz, a Winters author who donated books last year for the prize basket, encouraged her whole family to become actively involved this year – planning events, working booths, and making videos, in addition to donating more books.
Petra Collins and Bianca Cox joined the WFoL board this year. They are bilingual and, ahem, a bit younger than the rest of our board, bringing fresh energy and ideas, and helping us reach beyond our long term volunteers and donors to find and establish support in the broader community.
So many new skills, so little time. And some of us older dogs take a little more time to learn new tricks.
But we keep bringing back new information from the trainings to our WFoL volunteers and the rest of our community. Here are some of the skills we are learning:
- Communication within and outside the organization
- Marketing and promotion techniques
- Using best practices and strategies for different social media platforms
- Building relationships and networking with other non-profits
- Board and donor engagement
- Best use of graphics and video
- Website design and management
- Using technology, tools and apps to create and assist with all of the above
Legacy and Connection
It was amazing to see our young board member with baby on board together with one of the eldest members of the Winters community (who is an icon of volunteerism) at our Midnight Donation Kick-off Party at the Palms Playhouse. The 90+ year old was invited by a family friend who is one of our newer volunteers. The tableau was a great reminder that the library is a place for connection at all ages.
At our Winters Fourth Friday Feast WFoL booth I talked about our programs with former students, now parents moved back to Winters to raise their children. As a classroom teacher I always took my students on a walking field trip to get their library cards and meet the librarians. I recall assigning “visit the library” as a standing weekly homework assignment. My smile couldn’t have been any wider last week when these former students signed up for the WFoL newsletter and said, “Yes we want to get involved.”
We see increased involvement in our volunteer Story Time programs by grandparents bringing their grandchildren to the library. Grandparents and parents who learn about our programs and financial support for the library want to be a part of the Big Day of Giving and commit to helping us sustain the library for the future.
And did you note that there is a Big Dog Learning Facebook Community?
Big Dogs, Little dogs, underdogs, experts, staff and volunteers are sharing ideas, supporting each other, giving honest feedback, encouraging new learning, and exponentially increasing our connections and capacity to continue the work we all do.
We could not do what we do without the collaboration and support of our larger community.
This was especially useful because the Big DoG treasure basket prize, worth over $300, offered a valuable donation incentive to their clients who may not live in Winters or use the library.
Collaboration is not one sided. We share our new learning and connections with our collaborators to help them grow. WFoL’s increased visibility helps more people discover Winters.
We’ve learned a lot about how to approach collaborators and build win-win relationships. We have now reached out to more of our local businesses to partner with us to provide incentives for our members. You can see a list on our Join WFoL page.
Inspiration, Questions, New Ideas
As we look back at this year and evaluate, learn, and grow we discover new ideas and questions:
- What new partners can we find?
- How can we engage more school supporters and parents to build library support?
- How can we better leverage the support generated on this one day to sustain valuable WFoL work the other 364 days of the year?
- How can we use what we have learned to improve strategic planning for our organization?
Thank you for helping us build the capacity of WFoL and the many other wonderful nonprofit organizations working to improve services for people and communities in our region.
Thanks to all of you who donated and volunteered and are working to make sure our libraries never get shushed!