The Pratt's future Strategic plan: Fund-raising is key to bringing Enoch Pratt Library into 21st century.

January 14, 1996

THE NEW THREE-YEAR strategic plan adopted by the Enoch Pratt Free Library doesn't emphasize the importance of fund-raising, but it is implicit. Money will be needed to bring to fruition an ambitious proposal to replace six library branches with two to four modern facilities with computer technology to store and access information.

Some 94 percent of the library's funds come from government sources, but the amount has been decreasing over the past decade. With all levels of government cutting back, that situation may get worse. Already the Pratt has had to cut some 100 full-time positions and reduce its hours of operation.

The strategic plan seeks to maximize existing funding sources and pursue alternatives. That makes it even more urgent for the Pratt to hire a top-notch development director. The library has been without one since 1994. That has hurt.

The Morris Goldseker Foundation awarded the Pratt a three-year, $150,000 grant to strengthen its development program. That grant will be used to recruit a development specialist, to update the feasibility grant that was used to apply for a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in the 1980s, to design a fund-raising strategy, train volunteers, prepare materials for fund-raising, coordinate and consolidate current marketing efforts and create a major gift and donor program.

The Pratt should soon be ready to propose several finalists to its board of directors. It has been difficult to find qualified fund-raisers who will work in a government job when the rewards of the private sector are so much greater.

That may be true, but the Pratt has to be successful in this endeavor. The library has learned that while government cannot be counted on to fund it at past levels, the public's demand for library services has not similarly diminished. Indeed, people complain that the Pratt is not open enough hours.

It's important for the Pratt to hire a development director who can successfully tap that desire and make the library less dependent on government for its financial well-being.

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