The Situation

The Belgrade Community Library worked hard to support its growing local population, but its capacity to serve was limited by its undersized, overused facilities. Since the library’s last renovation in 2002, the town’s population grew by 30% and library program participation increased by 500%. The library needed a major overhaul in order to continue serving the community at a high level.

The Unique Challenge

The Foundation received a generous financial gift years prior from a local ranching family and recognized the need to make the most of the library’s endowment. However, not only did Belgrade’s library need a facility upgrade, but its police department did as well. While substantial, the libary’s endowment was not enough to address the current and future needs of the library, the police, and other public service departments, including the Planning Department, Finance Department, City Court, Human Resources, and the offices of the Prosecutor and City Manage — all of which were bursting at the seams in their existing spaces, strained by the community’s explosive growth. The idea of a joint project was hatched and Bannack helped deliver it to success, through a comprehensive feasibility study and campaign management.

The Bannack Difference.

The feasibility study needed to determine not only how much funding the library would be able to raise, but what direction for funds allocation had the most traction with community members and major donors. A building remodel, or new library construction? And how did the police and the city’s other shared-space departments play into the strategy? Our Bannack team executed a deep dive into not just the needs of the library and its patrons, but the interrelated challenges and opportunities of the entire community and its public services. The results of the study laid the groundwork for a successful fundraising campaign - the largest in the library’s history.

Clear support emerged for one sweeping plan: a new library building would be constructed on a lot that had recently been vacated by the fire department; the police department would move into old library location; their absence in the shared downtown offices would free up additional room for the other public services departments. The new library would be the linchpin in this comprehensive plan of action.

Our team created an effective strategy to fund this ambitious and exciting multi-tiered project — $6 million capital campaign that would combine community-level funding, the support of major philanthropic donors, and a City bond election - each of which was seamlessly coordinated by the Bannack Group. Through strategic execution, relationship-building, and spreading the capital campaign’s clear, inspiring message to the public, the Bannack team led the charge to the community’s love for its library into tangible funds. Bannack Group helped the library achieve every goal — $2.3 million was raised, and the library’s Election Bond passed successfully.

From the Belgrade Community Library Foundation

“From the start, we were drawn to Bannack’s clarity about how to execute the process, and we liked their professional, approachable rapport. They had been down this road before with other organizations, and they clearly knew how to achieve success. With the endowment sitting in the library foundation’s bank account, combined with the exploding community needs, we felt a bit ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ — we knew we needed to raise money, but had no idea how to do it ourselves, or even what goals to work towards. As a small organization, we are already working at our limit — and it was simply not feasible for us to build a major fundraising campaign into the time we had in the day. And it also takes skill, experience, and connections that we just didn’t have. Bannack Group took this situation that was incredibly complex for us, and figured out a clear solution that everyone loved, not just the library but the whole town — and then they made achieving it feel easy — well, almost easy. Bannack Group is just amazing. Working with them also gave us access to their own trusted experts — ‘oh, we have a marketing person for that, we have an attorney that can answer that question for us’ — which was invaluable as needs and situations came up throughout the process. They never felt like outsiders — they felt like one of us, like partners in our process.