Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Holds Lessons for NGOs

In 1996, singer-songwriter Dolly Parton founded the Imagination Library, a free children’s book distribution program.

Since its inception, every child in Sevier County, Tennessee, the area where Parton was born and raised, has been eligible to receive a free book each month in the mail until the age of five.

The real success; however, has been the rapid expansion of the program to over 1600 local communities in the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

It’s an easy process to replicate and here’s how the library has accomplished its goals:

Program Replication and Cost Estimators have been shared online and across social media networks. Cost estimators give proper expectations as to how much a replicated program or franchisee can be expected to spend on books and distribution.

The Imagination Library site also helps “franchisees” to define geographic areas, fundraise, identify local champions, complete paperwork and receive brochures and reference guides. They’ll even help host a rollout event.

If you think of your local experiment as a success, create a template and replicate it across local champions nationwide. That’s the Dollywood-way.

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