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home : news : news May 28, 2016

3/15/2013 12:48:00 PM
Donors made library construction possible

by Betsy Frazier

To say that Ellen Hartman, Cannon Falls Library Foundation president, is pleased with the new library would be a vast under statement. Hartman has been at the helm of the project even prior to the kickoff of the fundraising campaign, which started in August of 2010.

Discussions concerning a remodeled or new public library had been kicked around for well over 10 years. After getting estimates of as much as $750,000 to do required repairs to the old building, and with guarded support from the city council, the Library Foundation decided to go ahead with fundraising and planning for a new library that would meet the needs of the community.

The city council had initial misgivings about how faithful donors would be at honoring their pledges. Foundation members cited examples of other successful community fundraising ventures, including the ballfield project which secured over 100 percent of pledges made.

A fundraising committee, chaired by Paul Bringgold, "Broadening Minds and Bookshelves" was organized to manage the campaign. A kickoff magic show, featuring The Amazing Hondo, was held at Cannon River Winery where the announcement was made that $701,398 dollars had been pledged toward the $1.4 million needed for the project. The committee was able to celebrate reaching past the half-way point by making only 55 solicitation visits.

Bringgold commented on the successful start of the campaign. "Just let that sink in, and imagine what we can do when we are able to contact everyone who wants to give!"

A challenge grant was secured, matching contributions up to $500,000. The committee chairman noted that very few people contacted said "no" to the request for a donation. They were ready to move onto the next phase of fundraising.

With over half the money needed in hand, or pledged, and after a lengthy debate, the city council agreed to proceed with the request from the Foundation to pledge $364,000 toward the new library. The city agreed to the financing so construction could begin.

The Broadening Minds and Bookshelves committee and over 50 volunteers, set to work on the final phase of the $1.4 million capital campaign.

A phonathon was held July 18-21, 2011. Committee members called all area residents, giving them the opportunity to make contributions to the fund.

Chairman, Paul Bringgold noted the need for this effort, saying that people had approached him on the street and asked when they would be asked to contribute. The phone effort provided the committee with an opportunity to talk with a lot of people in a short time. Volunteers called about 2,000 area residents. Donors were able to choose to make their gifts in honor of or in memory of another person.

Mediacom pledged a public gift of $35,000 and requested naming rights on the new technology center at the library. All contributions of $250 or more would be permanently recognized in the facility unless the donor wished to remain anonymous. Pledges would be paid from 2011 - 2013 on a time schedule of the donor's discretion.

The phonathon was successful. In September of 2011, the Broadening Minds and Bookshelves Committee was able to proudly announce that the $1.4 million fundraising goal had been met. Pledges have continued to come in, and the Library Foundation was able to make its 2013 payment to the city of Cannon Falls in January.

"People can still make donations to the library," states Foundation president Hartman. "The foundation will continue to serve the needs of the library, but right now we are very proud of our new building, made possible by the generosity of the community."

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