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Interview: How One Viral TikTok Helped This Library Elevate Over $60,000 in One Week


“First, assume small. Second, assume huge.”

The Meridian Library Basis caught our consideration on the finish of final 12 months when gross sales from their Learn Banned Books marketing campaign on Bonfire instantly skyrocketed – seemingly out of nowhere. Their marketing campaign had gone viral, due to a TikTok, and was receiving an unprecedented quantity of assist from all around the world. Inside a matter of days that they had raised sufficient proceeds from shirt gross sales and donations to FULLY FUND the development of the Early Literacy & Sensory Installations at their new library department. Evidently, this can be a fundraising success story for the books – and it’s not even completed but.

Within the hopes of serving to different nonprofits obtain comparable outcomes with their fundraising efforts, I reached out to Eryn Turner (she/her), the Govt Director of the Meridian Library Basis and the lady behind the Learn Banned Books marketing campaign, to study what contributed to their success.

Learn on for the complete interview with Eryn.


Inform us a bit bit about your self and the way you got here to be Govt Director of the Meridian Library Basis!

“Hello there! My identify is Eryn Turner (she/her), and I’m the Govt Director of the Meridian Library Basis in Meridian, Idaho. I’m a self-proclaimed excessive guide nerd and have been since a really younger age. I’ve all the time discovered consolation, larger understanding, and swashbuckling journey within the novels, performs, and poetry that I’ve learn. As a long-time patron of our native library, I discovered a few non permanent grant-funded place to run a kindergarten-readiness program for the library. I used to be employed on this non permanent place, then requested to use for a brand new place that might begin and run a nonprofit group to assist assist the monetary wants of the library…and right here we’re, 4 years later!”

The Meridian Library Basis was based in 2019 – what’s the objective of this basis? What’s its significance? 

“The Meridian Library Basis started as a blue-sky imaginative and prescient of our library director on the time and several other influential neighborhood members. Our metropolis was rising exponentially (and nonetheless is!), and we struggled to maintain up with the demand for brand new faculties, homes, wider roads, and important public providers like libraries. As a authorities company, the library isn’t capable of save funds for big capital initiatives and has relied on bonds and levies up to now.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit group we are able to solicit main presents, fundraise, and write grants to assist complement the levy funds to convey much-needed assets to our ever-growing neighborhood. In only a few years, the Basis has raised over $522,000 to assist fund 3D printers, laptops, laser engravers, podcasting tools, audio-visual boards, youngsters’s books, Early Literacy & Sensory Installations, and extra, for our Meridian Library and neighborhood. Along with elevating these much-needed funds, the Basis has additionally been capable of advocate for our library and showcase the unimaginable work of library employees.”

What initially introduced you to Bonfire?

“Like many organizations in 2020, the Basis regarded for methods to pivot and create digital fundraising alternatives. I got here throughout Bonfire, had a chat with one of many service representatives, and liked that we’d have zero upfront prices and that our very small nonprofit wouldn’t have to fret about manufacturing or transport. I created just a few preliminary designs that our Board voted on, and our first annual attire marketing campaign was launched!

We had a modest aim to promote between 50-100 shirts and reached our aim, elevating simply over $1000 for our library. Stewardship is essential to me, so I mailed every individual a thanks letter and bookmark. The next 12 months, 2021, we created a brand new design with matching bookmarks, and once more met our aim, elevating roughly $1,200 with every individual receiving an identical bookmark within the mail from the Basis.”

Inform us about your Learn Banned Books marketing campaign. What was the inspiration behind this design?

“Our “Learn Banned Books” design was created in the summertime of 2022 for our third annual attire marketing campaign. Libraries throughout the nation have been underneath elevated scrutiny lately, and our personal library was underneath assault by a small group of individuals. Different members of our neighborhood had been understandably pissed off at these assaults and requested me if I might design one thing edgier (our earlier two designs had been cute with light-hearted messages of “Happiest when studying”, or “It’s a fantastic day to learn a guide”). 

I didn’t need to inflame any tensions in our neighborhood, and I didn’t need to design a shirt that was disrespectful or a “dialog ender”. On the similar time, I used to be more and more disheartened to see lists and lists of books being faraway from libraries throughout the nation, even in neighboring cities, typically with no motive indicated. Among the books I used to be seeing on these lists had been required studying in highschool, or I’d learn as an grownup and WISHED I’d learn in highschool as a result of they’d helped me course of and take into consideration matters that had been tough to speak about.

I pulled an inventory of books which have traditionally been banned nationwide from the American Library Affiliation web site and thought…this might be our shirt. I attempted to pick out a various vary of titles, some that had specific which means to me, some that simply match aesthetically into the design and subtly added within the “Learn Banned Books” phrases all through. I used to be actually proud of the way it turned out in my check print – it felt like a dialog starter (and really has been each time I put on one of many shirts!). It was a easy design…and BONUS: it supplied an inventory of books to learn/reread!”

Your Learn Banned Books marketing campaign has been vastly profitable, largely on account of a viral TikTok posted by considered one of your followers that featured them carrying the Learn Banned Books shirt – did you anticipate this response in any respect? Why do you assume this marketing campaign particularly has obtained a lot consideration and assist?

“Taking earlier campaigns into consideration, our aim was to lift round $1,000-1,200 with our 2022 design. There was undoubtedly extra preliminary curiosity on this design than in earlier years, and we raised round $1,300 throughout our first marketing campaign batch. After the preliminary launch, I opened the shirt up for anybody who might need missed the deadline.We continued to see common gross sales (just a few per week) all through November and into December – and I continued to get e-mail notifications from Bonfire so I might ship out thanks letters with the matching bookmark. 

On December thirteenth, I knew one thing was up round lunchtime. I had obtained a dozen e-mail Bonfire buy notifications and questioned if a guide membership all determined to purchase shirts on the similar time. I took a fast break to seize a snack and by the point I used to be again at my desk, I had extra emails and telephone calls from throughout the nation asking if they may nonetheless purchase our shirt. Among the many emails was one from a Booktok influencer (Katie M / @katiemreads) who talked about a social media publish she’d performed about our new design, and that a lot of her followers had been asking if the shirt was nonetheless out there. Over the course of the afternoon, we noticed regular gross sales each single minute – I needed to create a filter for Bonfire sale emails to go to a separate folder as a result of I’d obtained hundreds of emails inside only a few brief hours!

Library employees and the Basis had been inundated with telephone calls, emails, and walk-in patrons, all asking the place to get our shirts. We had been capable of rapidly put up social media data, a header on our supportmld.org webpage with Bonfire hyperlinks to our shirt marketing campaign, and a banner on our library’s net web page to go to the Basis web site for extra details about the shirts. 

We had been additionally capable of associate with the Booktok influencer (Katie M / @katiemreads) to do frequent updates about how the donations had been supporting our library. Inside just a few days, we’d raised over $60,000 in shirt gross sales and donations to totally fund all of the Early Literacy & Sensory Installations at a brand new library department (opening quickly!) designed for patrons of all skills.

Our marketing campaign noticed one other wave of curiosity in late February when a small group petitioned the county to dissolve our total Meridian Library District. Native grassroots organizers deemed our design to be the unifying shirt of library supporters throughout petition hearings. It was a visually highly effective show of library assist and raised an extra $15,000 to place extra books and know-how into our new library.

By no means in my wildest desires did I ever think about or anticipate this degree of assist for our shirt marketing campaign. I actually imagine that the success of this marketing campaign is a direct reflection of fantastic library employees and providers throughout the nation and an announcement of assist for our freedom to learn. I and the Basis Board are overwhelmed with the generosity we’ve seen from supporters domestically, nationwide (in each US State!), and even in Canada, Australia, Finland, Germany, Nice Britain, Norway, and past. I can not clarify the longevity of this marketing campaign; I can solely say Thank You, from the underside of my coronary heart.

Photos of the brand new Orchard Park location being constructed.

Wanting again over your viral success story, do you assume different nonprofits might expertise success on the same scale? What recommendation would you give them to assist them get there?

“I’ve already had the chance to talk with different nonprofits and libraries across the nation asking about our Bonfire expertise. Our design was easy nevertheless it resonated with our neighborhood. I’d encourage different organizations to think about designs or themes which are related or essential to their very own communities, probably even bringing in native artists or making a youth design contest (the successful design is on the shirt).

One other suggestion that I imagine helped improve gross sales for our group is to go away off branding. I deliberately didn’t put our emblem or identify on any of our designs as a result of I knew they’d be presents for folks out of our little neighborhood. The Bonfire stories are extremely useful in seeing what’s working…throughout our first 12 months, I discovered that 17% of gross sales got here from outdoors our state. The next 12 months 24% of gross sales got here from out of state/nation. I’d estimate that our “Learn Banned Books” design has extra like 90% of gross sales out of state/nation. 

First, assume small. What would your present donors (these you’ve developed relationships with) be concerned with carrying on a shirt? Second, assume huge. How can I flip this design into one thing extra common? It could be so simple as leaving off a emblem or group identify. This may not all the time be an possibility, however there’s a nice alternative to share your story and what your group is elevating funds for on the Bonfire marketing campaign web page itself. I’ve discovered that individuals click on on our hyperlink as a result of they’re initially within the designs…I’ve additionally discovered that they’re drawn to our story and fundraising mission, and can usually go away an extra donation at checkout…we don’t want our emblem on the design for them to recollect they assist our library each time they put on our shirt!”

Eryn’s prime suggestions for nonprofits fundraising with t-shirts:

– Hold your t-shirt design easy.
– Take heed to suggestions out of your neighborhood.
– Begin small. Take into consideration a design that your present donors would really like.
– Subsequent, assume huge. How will you make your design extra common in order that it resonates with a bigger viewers?
– Go away your emblem off fully OR make it very small so the remainder of the shirt design can shine!
– Share your story in your fundraising web page.

You’ve raised $89,391 (on the time of this interview) to date via this marketing campaign – how has this cash benefitted the Meridian Library Basis? How has fundraising via Bonfire helped assist your mission? 

Our mission is to assist the monetary wants of the Meridian Library District. We’re at the moment wrapping up building on a 15,000-square-foot full-service library department devoted to early literacy & designed with accessibility in thoughts. That is an progressive library and has a particular place in my coronary heart as I do know this area will positively impression the lives of so many individuals. In the course of the design course of, we introduced in members of our neighborhood for focus teams with the architects…we stored listening to that many public areas will not be accessible for youngsters with disabilities. I actually have a toddler on the Autism Spectrum, with Kind 1 Diabetes, and have personally felt the restrictions when visiting a public library. If it’s too loud, noisy, or overwhelming for youths, dad and mom usually have to go away a program early. 

This new library department presents a devoted Sensory Room subsequent to the Program Room so households can have the choice to control sensory stimulation in a quieter room with dimmed lighting, crash pads, and different sensory instruments. This permits youngsters to nonetheless take part in applications in a means that’s significant and accessible to them. Sensory Kits with noise-canceling headphones & fidget toys will even be out there for youths to take a look at and use throughout applications or whereas they cruise the stacks to search out new books. The peak of the furnishings is decrease, so all patrons can entry materials independently, even from a wheelchair. The structure of the toilet presents bigger altering benches for households with older youngsters, or seniors, requiring help with altering. There’s a versatile wellness room with comfy seating for nursing dad and mom, for patrons needing to test their blood sugar or take life-saving drugs (like insulin), or for neighborhood members needing a quiet room for reflection or prayer.

$89,391 has helped us FULLY FUND all the Early Literacy & Sensory Installations (toys, kits, crash mats, studying havens, blocks, bubble panels, fiber optic curtain, and so forth) for the Youngsters’s Play Space, Sensory Room, and Program Room. We’ve got additionally been capable of buy progressive know-how that encourages youngsters to study via play utilizing academic math, science, and studying applications. Our library would be the first public area in your complete state of Idaho to supply this tech board! As we proceed with the development course of, the Basis will be capable of fund extra initiatives for the library that assist flip a constructing into an unimaginable place of curiosity and studying.”

Photos of the Early Literacy & Sensory Installations on the new library location.

What recommendation would you give to different nonprofits who’re contemplating using attire fundraising?

Do it! There may be zero danger and nil preliminary funding with Bonfire’s platform. There may be some reality to “you want to spend cash to generate income”, however once you’re a small nonprofit with not plenty of funds to start with, that is an unimaginable possibility that may be personalized to ANY fundraising trigger.

What are your hopes for the way forward for the Meridian Library Basis and the communities it serves?

“We’re within the strategy of serving to open a brand new library department in Could 2023. We are going to then be targeted on serving to design, construct, and fund a brand new library department on the reverse finish of the neighborhood, then renovation of our principal library location. We’ve got a various neighborhood, with numerous wants. Our hopes are to satisfy as a lot of these wants as attainable via considerate library design, intentional partnerships…and an entire lot of fundraising for books, know-how, toys, and so forth!

Is there anything you wish to inform us about your journey / work?

I’m so happy with the work of our Basis, and the work of our library. As a mom of a kid with disabilities, it’s extremely significant that the library employees have reached out to all pockets of our neighborhood to incorporate them within the design strategy of our library areas. Mother and father and caregivers (offering help to these requiring lodging) had been capable of converse straight with the architects and brainstorm new methods to make this public area extra accessible. Our new library is a direct reflection of our neighborhood and its wants. I’m inspired by the extent of care and thought that has been poured into this area, and I’m impressed by the devoted employees which are dedicated to together with ALL our children in public areas and applications. This specific library has been an actual mission of my coronary heart, and it has been a pleasure to fundraise for it and see it come to life. Thanks a lot for letting me share my story and the story of our library.

Digital tour of the Meridian Library Basis’s new Orchard Park location.

Be taught extra concerning the Meridian Library Basis and their ongoing initiatives on their web site.

Thanks for taking the time to learn this interview and study concerning the work that Eryn is doing to assist strengthen and empower her neighborhood.

Prepared to leap proper in?

Make your personal premium customized merch free of charge on Bonfire to fundraise in your neighborhood!

Written by: Hayden Eire / Content material Specialist
Illustrated by: Madison Summers / Lead Advertising Designer



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