The Triangle’s local literacy councils need you.

Well, actually, their students, tutors, computer labs, and libraries need your yard sales.

“Budget shortfall” is the ominous buzz phrase circulating among the board meetings of nonprofits this quarter. Every nonprofit is trying to be more visible in the public’s war-numbed consciousness. Everyone is trying to be more creative in their funding attempts.

Following a 30 percent decline in funding from the Triangle United Way, the Durham Literacy Center has started publicizing its “Keep Our Doors Open” campaign. This award-winning literacy council enrolled more than 650 Durham residents in skills building and learning to read programs for adults. Few people have more energy or thinking-outside-the-box problem solving skills than Executive Director Lucy Haagen.

But they still need $40,000 by June 30.

The Durham Literacy Center is a veteran of read-a-thons, write-a-thons, auctions, letter writing, grant writing, spelling bees, car washes, jewelry sales, bake sales. You name it they’ve tried it. Every new board rotation has come up with a plan. But it’s a bigger mountain this year for what they call “Our Spring Survival Campaign.”

Reached at home where she was on deadlines of her own, writing four grants for the Literacy Council of Wake County, Executive Director Monica Angelucci spoke of the frustration of going up against “professional” fundraisers. “Every dollar we raise in Wake County goes to our bottom line, supporting our programming, supporting our student tutor relationships. Most people don’t understand how much of a cut the large, professional fundraisers take when they call you at home. We do it all ourselves to keep all the receipts in our budget.”

Angelucci and Haagen have come up with the literacy fundraiser of the season. An eBay auction. Spring is yard sale season. Look around your house, what don’t you need, what could you donate to their online auction. The Wake and Durham literacy councils are teaming up to host an auction of “good stuff” on the Web, tickets to sports events, hotel and restaurant reservations, celebrity autographed items, art, and gift certificates.

In Orange County, Executive Director Lucy Lewis is equally busy with the Orange County Literacy Council. “We just learned that there will be a significant cut in our Triangle United Way funding next year. This will have a major impact on our budget. And we still need to reach the 12 percent of the adult population who didn’t complete high school. We help adult learners to get their driver’s license, to read and understand their bills and register to vote.” The group’s Web site touts recent fundraising success stories, their read-a-week program with Hillsborough author Michael Malone and $3,000 from the Chapel Hill Whole Foods Market.

Planning a yard sale? (And who isn’t at least wishing “spring cleaning” was a bit easier?) How about donating the proceeds to your local literacy council? How about just giving them your high-ticket items? You’ll get a tax credit, they’ll get much needed writing supplies and computers. Or go to their yard sale. ALL the proceeds will go to GED training, teaching parents to read so they can read to their children, and literacy workshops in homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and neighborhood libraries.

For more information, contact:

Durham Literacy Center,, 489-8383

Literacy Council of Wake County,, 787-5559

Orange County Literacy Council,, 933-3038