Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation, and why is it important to our public Library?

The Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation was established in 1997 as a private, tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization operating with its own board of directors.  Please see About the Foundation for more information.

2. Do you have fundraising campaigns?

Ensuring Excellence was a special purpose capital campaign from 2006-2015 to help the Library move up from its current level of good service to the next level of excellence in its expanded space in 2013.   Stay tuned for information about our upcoming campaign which will run through 2020.

3. Why does the Chapel Hill Public Library need support beyond what the citizens pay in taxes and approved bond issues?

The Library is supported largely from municipal funds with some supplemental funds from Orange County and the State of North Carolina.  The bond issue approved in 2003 provided funds for the expansion of the Library – basically for bricks and mortar. Although the Town of Chapel Hill spends approximately 4% of its General Fund each year on overall support for the Library, the Library’s collections acquisition budget has not increased since 2008.  Yet the Chapel Hill Public Library has the highest usage rate and the lowest per item borrowing cost in North Carolina.  When the expanded Library opened there was a 30- 40% surge in use creating even higher demand for services and materials. It is evident that private support is key to our Library having a collection sized to meet the needs of our community of readers.

4. Why should I give to the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation instead of giving directly to the Chapel Hill Public Library?

Since the Library is a Department of the Town of Chapel Hill, gifts given directly to the Library become part of the Town’s assets and are subject to strict budgetary processes. Gifts to the Town are not tax-deductible.  As a result, many foundations, corporations, and individuals will not make grants or gifts directly to a governmental institution.  Since the Foundation is a nonprofit organization, gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Foundation contributions may be invested in more flexible and competitive ways, yielding more growth than the Town can offer.  Finally, private contributions allow the Library access to a funding stream necessary to respond to emerging needs.  Many of these are not identified prior to the Town’s budget process, or perhaps were not funded through that process.  Also, special opportunities may arise after the budget year begins.

5. What is the relationship between the Chapel Hill Public Library, the Carrboro Library and Cybrary, and the Orange County Library?

The Orange County Library is part of a regional library system that serves all of Orange County plus some parts of other neighboring counties.  The Carrboro Library and Cybrary are branches of the Orange County Library.  The Chapel Hill Public Library is an independent municipal library and separate from the Orange County Library.  It is the second largest of nine municipal libraries in North Carolina; the High Point Public Library is the largest.

6. What is the difference between the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation and The Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library?

The Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library complement and help each other.  The Foundation focuses on securing the long-term financial future of the Library by building endowment and expendable revenue from capital campaign contributions, grants from foundations and other organizations, corporate gifts, planned gifts and annual donations.  The Foundation also manages the Love Trust Fund, with assets of approximately $1.7M and oversees quarterly distributions to the Library from the Trust’s interest.

The Friends is a membership organization of volunteers focused on helping the Library with annual operational funding and programs and they provide occasional funding for Library special needs.  The Friends organize and conduct book sales throughout the year and direct proceeds to the Library for new book purchases, equipment needs, and children’s programming

7. What is the relationship between the Chapel Hill Public Library, the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation, and the Town of Chapel Hill?

The Chapel Hill Public Library became a Department of the Town in 1976.  Today, the majority of funding for the Library comes from the Town of Chapel Hill.  The Foundation is  separate from the Town and from the Library, since it is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization.  The Foundation’s Board of Directors includes a representative from the Town Council and from the Town Library Board of Trustees.  The Library Director is an ex-officio member.

8. How will donations and campaign funds benefit the Library?

Your gift will bridge the gap between public support for the Library and the real cost of bringing the Library up from its current standard of good service to a new level of excellence.  Our Library is the busiest public library in North Carolina, with over 3,000 books checked out each day!

Campaign funds will be spent on the purchase of new books, audio books, music recordings, educational DVDs, e-books, e-audio books, information databases and interactive digital learning programs, and other campaign initiatives designed to improve service in the expanded Library.  Also, please see Our Funds .

9. Will the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation’s private fundraising cause Town and County funding for the Library to decrease?

No.  The Town of Chapel Hill and Orange County are committed to continuing their strong support of the Library, but with many competing demands for funds, the Town and County are hard-pressed to substantially increase their level of funding.  Today, America’s premiere public libraries are supported by a combination of public and private funding.

10. What if I want my donation to be used for something other than collection materials … or to buy certain reading materials?

The Foundation will accept gifts that support the stated mission of the Chapel Hill Public Library. This includes increasing the public access to the Internet, improving the Library’s automation system and online catalog, and programming.

The Foundation also accepts gifts that help build specific, approved areas of the Library’s collection, in consultation with the Library Director and the acquisitions staff.  The Library strives to have a balanced collection that reflects the needs and interests of the local community.  Named purchase funds may be established, perhaps to support a particular subject area.

11. What is a named purchase fund?

Individuals and groups have the opportunity to name a purchase fund that will help build the expanded Library’s collection.  The minimum amount required for a named purchase fund is $3,000.  This would buy approximately 150 books.  Named purchase funds may be arranged through three-year pledges.  Bookplates recognizing the named fund will be placed in the items purchased by the fund.

12. Can I make a donation in memory of, or in honor of, someone else?  And how would that person receive recognition?

Yes, donations frequently are made in memory, or honor, of individuals, groups, and special occasions.  The usual recognition practice is to send a letter(s) of gift acknowledgement as the donor instructs.  Also, a named bookplate may be placed in books purchased with the contribution.

13. What types of donations can the Foundation accept?

The Foundation accepts gifts of cash, securities, real estate and cash-value life insurance policies, bequests, and estate gifts with a retained income.  If you would like to discuss any method of giving to the Foundation, please contact us to explore options with you that best fit your needs and desires.  The Foundation is also pleased to process corporate matching gifts.

14. How do I know the money I donate to the Foundation is being managed properly?

Foundation funds are overseen by financially literate members of the Board, advised by a highly reputable investment firm and audited annually by an outside CPA.  Designated spendable donations are tracked to ensure donor wishes.  To protect against inflation, a prudent withdrawal rate provides for growth of endowment funds’ principal.  Also, please see Our Funds .

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