T he staff of the Pember Library is hoping a little change adds up to a lot of cash.
The library is encouraging patrons to empty their pockets, purses, couch cushions and vehicles of spare change and to pitch their pennies (or nickels, dimes and quarters) into a jar on the library’s desk.
The goal is to collect one million pennies, the equivalent of $10,000.
“That’s the goal, but anything would be wonderful,” Ardyce Bressette, librarian and organizer of the effort, said.
In its first week, the library collected $39.50.
“I thought that was great. We got bills and pennies,” Bressette said.
The fundraiser is part of the library’s overarching plan to increase revenues.
An audit completed by the Comptroller’s Office, and released at the beginning of the year, revealed the organization was facing dire financial constraints. In 2011 and 2012 the library was in the red by more than $110,000. The institution had a “small positive balance” in 2013.
Since the release of the audit, the Pember Board of Trustees has implemented an austerity budget, eliminated a number of professional services that were costing the library thousands of dollars each month and has resolved to invest money in a conservative mutual fund account. Trustees have also begun to pursue grants and are exploring the possibility of harvesting timber from its Hebron Nature Preserve.
Part of the plan includes increased fundraising. The penny drive is the first of those fundraisers. An ice cream social and silent auction from 4 to 8 p.m. on July 5 will augment those efforts (a list of auction items is currently available at gralib.sals.edu).
Bressette said she had heard of other organizations and groups holding similar penny fundraisers and decided to try the same.
She said people often hear lofty dollar figures thrown out there as goals for fundraising campaigns and feel they don’t have the means to contribute.
“We wanted to create a way for people to see that they can make a difference, even with a small donation,” Bressette said.
The effort will continue for the foreseeable future; organizers have not set a firm date by which they hope to achieve their goals. A running tally of the amount raised will be posted on the library’s website each week.