When Librarians Become Fundraisers for Their University: A Case Study

Librarians sitting at tables learning to fundraise

When people participate in Turpin workshops, individual members and teams enjoy a host of secondary benefits beyond greater comfort with their own communication skills. Managers and leaders are often pleasantly surprised by how team meetings become more efficient, leadership skills start to emerge, relationships blossom, and so on. We often hear that teams “Turpinize” their communication after attending a Turpin workshop.

In this series of Case Studies, we demonstrate how select clients have benefited from our work.

Training Goal 

To help university librarians gain comfort in their new role as library ambassadors and members of the fundraising speakers bureau 


Big 10 University Library System 


Members of the Library Speakers Bureau 

Types of Presentations 

As part of the university’s fundraising and brand awareness strategy, members of the library’s speakers bureau present to alumni and donors showcasing the university’s impressive (and very unusual) library collections. While members of the speakers bureau do not ask for money directly, the development team does immediately following the presentation.  

Business Challenge 

The librarians were brilliant scholars… not naturally dynamic speakers. None of them was comfortable in this fundraising role. To add to the discomfort, many times their presentations took place after large dinners where alcohol flowed freely. The librarians, however, were incredibly gifted archivists with bountiful stories to tell and a passion for the library’s mission. They needed to get comfortable with their new responsibilities of showcasing the library’s collections and greasing the gears for “the ask.” 


We created a program to build the librarian’s skills to be more dynamic speakers and champions of the library. This work began with a goal-setting conversation so that everyone understood their new responsibilities and how their work was an integral part of helping the university grow. The next step was to help them overcome their fear of public speaking, find ways to demonstrate enthusiasm, and showcase collections. Once that was accomplished, they were able to help donors understand how their involvement benefited the university.  

As proof of the effectiveness of our work, our primary buyer at the library spoke about this program at a university library conference. It wasn’t long before we started to work with another Big 10 university’s library speakers bureau.   

Our methodology is based on our book, The Orderly Conversation®, a groundbreaking resource that offers a proven, practical approach for developing and delivering presentations that moves business forward.

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