4. Case-Study Analysis
This research project will study the Obion County Public Library (OCPL) which serves Union City Tennessee and the surrounding county of Obion. The official population area served by the library is 31,340 people (oclibrary.org). This project will study the online charitable giving options available at the Obion County Public Library through user-centered assessment of online user interfaces. This particular project sub-section identifies and compares online charitable giving options found at New York Public Library (nypl.org) with Obion County Public Library (oclibrary.org). This project aims to explore user-centered design aspects of aforementioned charitable giving portals, marketability, and economic impacts these portals make on the communities they serve.
4.1 Identify one other PL that provides similar services to the one you propose to assess/evaluate at your PL. Describe, analyze, and provide feedback about the efforts being made at the case-study PL with regard to the selected service and user-centered assessment/evaluation strategies.
The specific services that will be evaluated at the Obion County Public Library are online user-centered delivery of charitable giving options via the online giving portal featured on the organizational website. This case aims to evaluate which methods and strategies reach users and what additional online features are needed to actively increase charitable giving at the library through online means. Online giving portals set out to inform the community of details and options for charitable giving. Currently the Obion County Public Library outlines (5) methods of giving in the library policy. These giving methods include donating items and materials, memorial giving, cash gifts, library foundation charitable gifts, and planned gifts.
In order to compare the online services for charitable giving at Obion County Public Library (www.oclibrary.org), the New York Public Library (nypl.org), has been selected to evaluate and compare. New York Public Library is a much larger library system than the Obion County Public Library. New York Public Library boasts 83 different branches, serves a population of 52,946,398 people, and maintains a budget of over 245 million dollars (nypl.org). In 2011, New York Public Library circulating libraries included a budget of $139,819,00. The City of New York is responsible for $113,239,000, the state and federal government provides $9,823,000, outside contributions included $3,134,000 in donations, charitable contributions for rent and utilities were $8,068,000, and other support and revenue was $5,555,000 (NYPL Factsheet, 2014). The Obion County Public Library maintains only one branch, serves a population of 31,340, and maintains a budget of less than 500,000 (oclibrary.org). The New York Public Library was chosen for this case study as an institution to aspire to in regards in active online presence for charitable gift options. In regards to charitable options given, New York Public Library has many similar giving options as the Obion County Public Library, such as gift memorials, donated items, and planned gifts. New York Public Library also hosts many advanced methods of giving that are not featured at Obion County Public Library. These include benefactor charitable events, monthly giving and contribution programs, and other charitable giving financial vehicles such as pooled income funds, charitable remainder trusts, and charitable annuities (nypl.org). The focus of this case study will explore the informative nature of online portals used to communicate gift options and explore detailed aspects of usability and functionality of the donation portals of each included institution.
4.2 For the PL under case-study, describe how the library represents, manages, and provides services related to your selected service/program.
New York City has a long history as one of the wealthiest cities in the world. New York Public Library depends heavily on city funding, but diversifies its funding source with charitable investments (nypl.org). Only 57% of total funding comes directly from the city, so the remaining 43% is raised by other means. New York Public Library has a very successful giving program which raises over 32 million annually. Planned giving is a strong asset in New York Public’s charitable giving options. This program offers both bequests and charitable gift annuity options. These programs are cultivated by the robust Bigelow Legacy Society, which allows New York Public Library to cultivate its planned giving donors (NYPL Factsheet, 2014). New York Public Library has been very successful in building its endowment through planned giving bequests over the years.
Such as with other nonprofits, technology is an important area to consider when assessing and implementing methods of communication with donors. This communication can occur through websites, emails, and social media. New York Public Library’s online giving portal is a powerful asset for charitable giving. The New York Public Library website found at www.nypl.org features a “Support the Library” button on the menu found within every page of the website. A large easy to find and identify donate now button is featured within the “Support the Library” page which turns the user over to a secure online payments portal. This portal features a brief description illustrating the importance of giving to the New York Public Library and underscores the areas which funding from online donations will be applied. These areas include, “funding the collections, job search resources, access to the internet, literacy classes, children’s story hours, and so much more.” A “Don’t Forget Tab” accented in bright red remind the donor “Your donation will be fully tax-deductible” (nypl.org). This box draws the eye down the page where gift amounts can be selected and a credit or debit card can be used to complete the transaction. The Support the Library page features an intuitively constructed “Get Involved” menu which features easily identifiable sections. This is a strong user centered area of the giving portal because it focuses heavily on ease of access. This page is found at www.nypl.org/support. Each section outlined within the “Get Involved” tab has a featured icon which helps to identify the giving sections. This page creates an easy to navigate hub for giving opportunities. The Obion County Public Library currently does not have a charitable giving portal. The selection “Support the Library” is featured on the menu which makes the page accessible from every page of the site, but the site simply takes the user to the online contact form featured in the contact us section of the website (oclibrary.org). The New York Public Library provides detailed descriptions of applicable giving services, and sample documents such as living will samples and other guidelines for bequeathing money and property to the library (nypl.org). The Obion County Public Library does not provide information about gift options to its online users through the online website.
4.3 Discuss how your case-study PL represents elements about the service being studied in relation to its scope and objectives, activities, and resources. Also, examine the role of the users in assessing/evaluating the service.
Charitable donations are a core component of the New York Public Library. As mentioned previously, only 57% of total funding comes directly from the city, the remaining budget is cultivated through charitable giving. New York Public Library raises over 32 million dollars annually (NYPL Factsheet, 2014). These funds help to provide collections, job search resources, internet access, literacy classes, children’s story hours, and more (nypl.org). This makes charitable fundraising intrinsic to fulfilling the organization mission statement. The mission statement at New York Public Library is “to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities” (nypl.org). Similarly, fundraising at Obion County Public Library is also important, because raising funds is necessary to fulfill the Obion County Public Library mission statement. The Obion County Public Library mission statement is to “enrich and improve the lives of the citizens of Obion County by providing them with a wide range of meaningful library materials and quality experiences” (oclibrary.org). The notion of fundraising extends to both organizations in their vision statement, strategic plan goals, and objectives. Charitable fundraising accounted for $225,349 of funds being raised in 2013. Most of this money was raised for the Library Amphitheater Building Project, but a considerable amount of this funding also helped to pay for the children’s summer reading program, teen programming and services, and material purchases (Obion County Public Library Financial Report 2013).
Technology is an important aspect of library operations. It is also valuable in assessing and implementing methods of communication with potential donors. This communication can occur through websites, emails, and social media. Benchmark reports performed by Charity Dynamic, a research company used by New York Public Library stated that, “More than 50% of donors said they had received information requesting donations through New York Public Library’s Web site, by direct mail, email and through eNewsletters at least once. 40% of donors reported receiving information from the NYPL email and eNewsletters more than a few times per year. A large number, 35% of donors, reported visiting NYPL’s web site from a few times a year to daily” (Charity Dynamics, 2013). These details underscore the importance of online communication with potential donors.
Analytics reports from oclibrary.org show that the “Support the Library” tab was clicked 841 times in 2013. Over 70 clicks a month attempt to make access to the “Support the Library” section of the site. The users are then directed to the “Contact us” page and no further descriptions of charitable options are given (oclibrary.org). Website analytics review a higher than average bounce rate for this page, nearly 81%. Bounce rate is a measure of the effectiveness of a website in encouraging visitors to continue with their visit (Developer Tools, 2015). This means that 81% of users who entered the “Support the Library” page left immediately after being directed to “Contact us” (oclibrary.org).
4.4 Analyze the effectiveness of the case-study PL in providing the services under study.
Selecting New York Public Library provided an effective comparison for Obion County Public Library. New York Public Library serves a much larger population and is nationally recognized. This makes New York Public Library an aspirational institution to Obion County Public Library. In regards to this case study analysis, it was difficult to find similar sized public libraries with fully developed online giving portals. Many library sites of similar size as Obion County, have very little, if any, information on their organizational website about charitable giving opportunities. Through referrals in the field of charitable giving, New York Public Library was selected for the case study due to the level of depth in provided online content detailing charitable giving opportunities, the functionality of the charitable giving portal, and the user centered approaches used with technology to communicate with potential donors. New York Public Library is an excellent institution for growing public library charitable giving programs to aspire to. In depth, analysis of user-centered focus on marketability and performance for online donor communication is examined by a third party organizational employed by New York Public Library called Charitable Dynamics, Inc. Charitable Dynamics provides market analysis and performance reporting for the institutions web performance. At this time, no in-depth analysis has been done at Obion County Public Library to assess user interaction with the organizational website (Technology Coordinator Interview, March 15).
4.5 Provide similarities and differences between the PL example in your case-study and your collaborating PL. You should find information about the available services at the case-study PL on the web and also contact (email, phone, visit) people working at the PL to gather information.
New York Public Library uses real images of library staff, users, and donors in media found within the charitable giving portal. The images used are aimed at captivating similar interest users. Members in programs such as Junior Lions, show a thumbnail of young men enjoying the library, while the Friends of the Library membership portal shows an older gentleman reading to a child on his knee. Imagery is used to capture emotion in each charitable giving page found within the portal (nypl.org). Obion County Public Library often times uses stock imagery and unrelated media and images in areas of the website. Obion County Public Library does not encapsulate effective communication within the charitable giving section of its website. New York Public Library mails and emails an annual donor newsletter which describes upcoming projects, donor appreciation memoirs, and donor spotlights highlighting influential donors (nypl.org). Obion County Public Library does not produce an annual newsletter and donor communication is limited (Technology Coordinator Interview, March 15).
In regards to charitable options given, New York Public Library has many similar giving options as the Obion County Public Library, such as gift memorials, acceptance of donated items, and planned gifts. New York Public Library also hosts many advanced methods of giving that are not featured at Obion County Public Library. These include benefactor various membership options, charitable events, monthly giving, contribution programs, and other charitable giving financial vehicles such as pooled income funds and charitable remainder trust options (nypl.org). Although Obion County Public Library charitable giving options are less developed in scope as New York Public Library, many other programs are similar.
4.6 What did you learn about user-centered assessment/evaluation and services being studied at the case-study PL in the context of your collaborating PL?
Data provided by New York Public Library revealed that more than 50% of donors said they had received information requesting donations through New York Public Library’s Web site, by direct mail, email and through eNewsletters at least once (Charity Dynamics, 2013). This illustrates a commitment to donor communication not prevalent in many public library systems. New York Public library is allowing technology to help make communication more effective. According to statistics provided by Charity Dynamic, Inc. 40% reported receiving information from the NYPL email and eNewsletters more than a few times per year. New York Public Library is retaining user information and maintaining communication with library users. The New York Public Library website has become an effective tool for cultivating donor relationships A large number, 35% of donors, reported visiting NYPL’s web site from a few times a year to daily (Charity Dynamics, 2013). These details underscore the importance of effective online communication techniques with email, web, and social media.
The oclibrary.org “Support the Library” tab has a history of receiving a high volume of clicks. The support the library tab was clicked 841 times in 2013 (Developer Tools, 2015). This illustrates that library users are seeking more information about ways to give back to the library, but may not be receiving needed information detailing the programs and services available that benefit the library. Obion County Public Library must pursue furthering developing the online charitable giving portal and promote donor communication with technology.
Developer Tools - Bounce Rate. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2015, from https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1009409?hl=en
Nonprofit Donor Engagement Benchmark Study. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://my.charitydynamics.com/donorengagement.html
New York Public Library. (2015). New York Public Library. http://nypl.org/.
New York Public Library General Fact Sheet 2011. Retrieved March 17, 2015 from
Obion County Public Library. (2015). Obion County Public Library. http://oclibrary.org/.
Obion County Public Library Financial Report. Yearly Report 2013 – 2014. Union City, TN: Author.
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