Building Blocks of Fundraising

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How do you raise title subsidy

-SELECT BOOKS CAREFULLY: Be aware of the need for funds when putting together the profit and loss statements. But let’s face it: all of our books need funding! So more important is to identify those titles where the reward is worth the effort and to do so at an early stage. Feel free to be picky.

-RESOURCES – AAUP LIST, AUTHORS, Again, acquisitions editors should become aware of the foundations and organizations interested in their area of work (these can also be good acquisitions tools). AAUP also keeps a list of granting organizations in various disciplines on its website


With Foundations, you need to send a grant request. Contents for The Grant Request Letter:

a. THESIS: TITLE AND AUTHOR how much you want and the title and author of project)

b. AMOUNT specify an amount – if you can’t, you may not know enough about the donor ($1,000-$10,000)

c. About the book

c. About the author

d. Comments from readers, either anonymous or named (as you would for using a blurb)

e. Short, sweet, and focused description of why funds are needed

f. List of enclosures

g. Closing

Enclosures may include:

i. author c.v.

ii. manuscript abstract or description

iii. table of contents

iv. budget (NOT profit and loss statement – fold overhead costs into direct costs)

v. list of art program or other items that are driving the grant

vi. copy of IRS determination letter

vii. annual report

viii. brochure about university press

-BUILDING BLOCK: Title subsidy grants to foundations and other granting organizations can lead to invitations to apply for larger general grants.

With Individuals, the grant request can be simpler and shorter

-DRIVEN BY AUTHORS: must generally be driven by and with the consent of the author, who provides the name or list of names

-Compose a simple letter and prepare a flyer for the book.

-ONLY acknowledge in the book donations at the high end of the scale.

-BUILDING BLOCK: These can be a lot of work for small donations, but you never know when you might interest one or two of the individuals into becoming long-term donors to your press (Seeds of a friends group)

Why ask University Departments? How do I explain the request to authors?

-NO UNIVERSITY SUSIDY: guess what: our universities are no longer giving university presses big subsidies.

-BOOK PUBLICATION REQUIRED FOR TENURE: university departments are constantly complaining that we’re not helping them with their tenure cases. Okay: make them put their money where their mouth is.

-INSTITUTIONS WITHOUT PRESSES: What about all the universities and colleges that don’t have university presses? Shouldn’t they also be supporting scholarly communication?

-AWARENESS CAMPAIGN: this is not just a financial campaign, this is an awareness campaign.

-UNIVERSITY SUBSIDY HAS GONE AWAY BUT THE NEED FOR SUBSIDY HAS NOT: Do this not just for the good of your own university press; but for the benefit of all university presses.

-At the point of putting ANY book into production, we send an email to the author: “Nearly all books require financial subsidy to recoup the costs of production and marketing and to price them as affordably as possible. The decision to publish your book is in no way related to your ability to provide subvention; however, we would appreciate your inquiring about funding possibilities at your home institution. Many university departments offer funds to underwrite publications by their faculty members. Also, if you have contacts with another institution or agency that might provide a subsidy, please do let me know. We are happy to collaborate with you on crafting grant requests to your university, other institutions, or individuals who would consider supporting publication of your work.”

Receiving the Grant

-Note any requirements in letter regarding progress reports, acknowledgements, etc.

-Keep a database of acknowledgements.

-Make sure project editors know what needs to be included on donor pages.

-Send an invoice if needed

-Send a project report if requested or if the project is delayed or if it changes in any way.

-Send many thank yous—verbal and via formal letter. Send a thank you right away. Then send one again with a copy of the book. Send them information about any big awards or reviews. Keep them on your mailing list for catalogs and future requests. You cannot thank donors enough.


Title subsidy is a no brainer for a university press, whether or not you plan to move on to bigger and better things such as friends groups and major fundraising. It requires no additional staff, requires very little overhead, leverages the networking skills of authors and acquiring editors, and opens up new opportunities. Not only is it good for your own press, but it’s good for all university presses as we become recognized as cultural institutions.

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