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The Path to Funding Your Archival Project

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You have big dreams and your organization has a big impact on communities, but sometimes you run into big roadblocks when funding your projects. Some of your projects include protecting and preserving documented history, which is our mission as well, so we know how important it is to be able to fund those projects. Asking for money can be hard, and can be a daunting task, especially when you need to raise a substantial amount.

However, you aren’t alone in this process! When you partner with a trusted archival company, they will be with you every step of the way. Here’s the three-step path we recommend for funding your archival projects.

  1. Tell Your Story

This is the single-most important foundational factor when funding your project. Telling your story establishes who you are and why you exist. What problems are you solving in your community, and why can’t it thrive without you? What resources do you make available? What collections are you preserving for historical research and future generations?

Don’t just tell your story. Share it in such a compelling way that your readers will want to jump on your band wagon, hail their friends, and enthusiastically dive into the work you’re doing. For this, social media can be incredibly productive. Creating videos, online events, groups, and pages will help capture interest and followers. Many archival companies can also assist in creating a web presence that matches the upcoming project or archive!

Part of telling your story is listing your goals for the future. When you ask for funding, make sure you explain why you need money and how it will be used, which is something your archival company can help you with. Be specific. Why do you need it to impact the community? And don’t forget to tell why your partnership is important.

  1. Ask for Donations from Private Donors

Whether it’s time or money, people are more likely to give when asked directly. Review your donor list and identify a handful of friends or donors who align best with the goals of the project. These are the donors who are moved by your mission and purpose. Use the old-fashioned method of mailing personal letters. Call potential donors on the phone and set up a meeting. Tell your story, explain your need and tell them why you thought of them, how their values align with yours, how they can help, and that they will directly impact a need.

People want to be needed. If you can outline exactly how a prospective donor can help, they will be more likely to invest, and personally asking people and being prepared to answer their questions will establish a foundation of trust.

Historic works are always at risk of damage due to accidents or simply handling the documents, which makes digital library preservation imperative. Explaining that preserving these documents is of utmost importance, and laying out exactly what will be lost if these documents aren’t preserved digitally will paint an honest picture of why you need the help of donors.

Partner with a trusted archival company who will help you communicate with those outside of your organization. They will help educate and energize your key donors on the possibilities and benefits of your digital archiving project.

You are not alone in this process. Your archival partner can provide demonstrations, presentations, and education. They will explain the importance of archival quality and doing your project right the first time.

  1. Apply for Grants

Did you know that both the private sector and the government have grants available for library preservation?

Applying for grants might be a little intimidating. A grant proposal is involved, and there are so many, many grants to apply for. Where should you start? How does receiving funds from foundations work?

Applying for grants takes more specialized expertise than marketing. In fact, it might be helpful to hire a grant writer. Again, you may have to spend money to make money. Charitable requests, whether government or not, aren’t just for giving away free money. Your mission must be aligned with their mission, and a grant writer will help you apply in a way that appeals to this connection. If you still want to go through the process yourself, you can find many guides, including this simple step-by-step guide.

Grants can be worth incredibly large sums, and there are a surprising number of grants available for nonprofits and libraries.

Don’t Stop There!

You can use any or all of these strategies. Some build on each other, and each compliments the rest. Now all you have to do is continue to build your relationships. Make sure you thank your donors and invest in working relationships with them. This will remain important for future projects. You want your donor to take ownership of projects and be just as dedicated as you are. Don’t just use their money. Show them how they’re directly helping, which can be as simple as sending out regular newsletters or taking time to have personal conversations.

At Anderson Archival, we know how important preserving historical collections is for future generations, and we want to help you create the best digital collection possible. On occasion, our customers ask us to meet with significant donors to explain the benefits of creating a digital library and we have found this to be effective. Call us today at 314.259.1900 or email us at for more information on ways to fund your archival project and how to build a digital library!

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