Friends of the McFarland Library book sale

Friends of the McFarland Library member Mary Jo Olson, left, sells books to Indian Mound Middle School seventh-grade English and language arts teacher Missy Burke, who is buying books for her classroom. Most of the Friends of the McFarland Library members donated to the endowment fund.

With months to spare, the E.D. Locke Public Library has raised – and continues to raise – money past its previously met $105,000 goal for an endowment fund. To date, about $119,000 has been donated.

The 18-month funding campaign was completed on June 30, but the library still continues to garner support in the form of donations.

The library’s endowment fund is through the Madison Community Foundation (MCF), a community trust that supports Madison area nonprofits by investing donations to grow income and increase the size of the fund from original donations.

The fund is a collection of donations from individual donors matched by contributions from the Friends of the McFarland Library and MCF. The funds gain 4 percent interest and allow the library to use the money in addition to fund allotted in the village budget. Funds cannot be used for building expenses, like lighting and staff salaries.

“It’s not a substitute for the public support that comes from the tax money; it’s in addition to that. That’s a very key and important point,” library endowment committee member Evan Richards said.

Many groups, like community organizations, symphonies and theater groups, use similar endowments as a mechanism for providing ongoing, stable support, he said. Most libraries have endowment funds to support programs, projects and subscriptions above budgeted municipal funding by taxpayers.

“It gives us an opportunity to do extra and special things for our patrons,” E.D. Locke Public Library director Heidi Cox said.

An endowment fund committee consisting of Richards, Cox, Carolyn Grede and Ken Machtan was created two years ago to create policies around the endowment. Such policies prevent a decrease in municipal funding to the library and establish the rules around the fund belonging to MCF.

“The laws are set up so no one can do any funny business or mismanage,” Richards said.

With the promise of a 2:1 challenge grant from MCF, a goal to raise $70,000 from donors within one year began to meet the $105,000 projection.

“We were able to come up with our $70,000 several months ahead of the deadline,” Richards said.

Forty-three individuals contributed donations of $100 or more, with the largest being $12,000. Many other supporters contributed donations of $10 or more. Some donations were made in memory of those who have died.

“The people who donated use the library, love the library and can see the potential of all the stuff that we’ve done,” Cox said.

“I think it says a lot about McFarland as a community that they were willing to support our efforts to such a great degree and so quickly,” Grede said. “And they really understood the importance of developing this fund.”

The Friends of the Library announced a challenge grand on Sept. 29, 2018, to match funds dollar-for-dollar.

“If you donate $1, it would end up being $3,” Richards said.

Although the matching funds helped, Machtan describes the library as the centerpiece of the village.

“If we didn’t have the matching funds, I’m confident we would’ve reached the goal but it would’ve taken us a little longer,” he said.

The endowment fund currently remains untouched until next year as it continues to earn interest. The committee has yet to officially decide how to spend the money, but they have no shortage of ideas.

Potential plans for technology updates, improving children’s areas, adding expensive subscriptions, bringing new performers and starting new projects and programs are all possibilities.

“When I look at all the village services, I think the library in my opinion is the best service that I personally use and benefit from,” Machtan said. “When you look at the number of people who participate in our programs … it really just almost skyrocketed.”

As the endowment committee moves forward, they hope to continue growth of the fund and educate people about signing over IRAs (individual retirement accounts) or leaving the library money in their will.

“When you get old like all of us do eventually, you kind of think about what you want your legacy to be and how you want to leave the world a little better place than how you found that, and the endowment is a good way to do that,” Richards said.

More information about how the endowment fund works and how to donate can be found at mcfarland.wi.us/libraryfund.

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