If you have shelves filled with books that you have already read and are not likely to use in the future, there's no reason to let them sit there and gather dust. Once you are finished with a book, it can certainly be put to good use by a nonprofit organization. Some charities sell donated books to raise money, while others use them in projects or to share with people in need. No matter where you live, chances are that many local organizations would be happy to put your gently used books to good use!
Most public and private schools will be happy to accept donations of books that are appropriate for the age and reading levels of their students. They can utilize used books can be used to stock the school library, provide supplemental reading materials for teachers and students use, or offer them for sale as a fundraising project. Some may even give donated books to children to keep, so that they have reading materials available at home.
Ronald McDonald House
Ronald McDonald House is a charitable organization that provides a place for families to stay when they are coping with the experience of having a child hospitalized far from homes. They provide play areas for children who are staying in the home with their parents, so donations of books, toys and other items that can help keep things as normal as possible for the siblings of seriously ill children are greatly appreciated.
Hospitals that specialize in pediatric care may be quite happy to receive donations of children's books their young patients can read and enjoy. Donated books and toys can provide hours of stress relief to children who have to be hospitalized. The books can be made available to young patients, provided to volunteers who read to the patients, or placed in waiting rooms for family members.
Children's Book Banks
A number of communities have Book Bank programs operated by local charitable entities. A few examples include The Children's Book Bank in Oregon and Maryland Book Bank. These programs collect donated children's books and make them available to kids in low-income areas. Specific programs vary by group, but a primary focus involves giving books to kids to keep who might not otherwise have access to books at home. The idea is to help boost child literacy statistics by ensuring that there are books in the homes of all kids, both for them to read and so that the adults (or older kids) can read to them.
Women's shelters often take in women and children who are fleeing from living situations where their lives are at risk due to domestic violence. Their residents often leave home with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. As a result, these organizations accept many types of donated items, including necessities and items to help keep kids entertained, such as books. If there is a local shelter in your area, simply call and ask if they would like to receive the children's books you have available to donate.
Church youth groups and youth service clubs often hold rummage sales as a way of raising money to fund mission trips and other types of activities. Since books are popular items, any group that is preparing for a fundraising yard sale will greatly appreciate receiving donated books to sell. Some may also use faith-based or self-help books in their ministry outreach efforts, distributing them to people who may benefit from reading them.
If you are looking to donate books for adults, consider making a donation to Operation Paperback. This nonprofit collects books for soldiers and their families. They distribute the books the collect to U.S. soldiers who are deployed or stationed abroad, as well as to U.S. military families and veterans. They periodically hold special projects supporting distribution of books to service members and veterans in different ways, such as through veterans' hospitals, wounded warrior programs, and airports.
Adult Literacy Programs
Organizations that operate literacy programs can be good places to consider for book donations. These programs, such as The Reading Tree in San Francisco, focus on helping adults who did not learn to read when they were children master the skill. They can use donated books in their programs in a variety of ways, from incorporating them in lessons to providing to program participants to use for practicing the skills they are learning.
Charitable Thrift Shops
Many nonprofit organizations operate thrift shops as a way to fund their activities, and most include books in the items they sell. Contact your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or AMVETS thrift shop, or other thrift store, to find out if they carry books. If so, your donation will certainly be appreciated. Since nonprofits that operate thrift stores sell donated items as a way of raising money, they'll accept many types of books (fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, cookbooks, magazines, etc.) for readers of all ages. Some thrift shops offer donation pickup services, while others expect donors to bring items to their stores or donation bins.
While it may sound a little odd to think about giving books to a library, since libraries are full of books, this can be a good donation option. Many public libraries raise money to support their projects and programs by hosting books sales once or twice a year. Some even keep a rack of sale books on sale year-round near the checkout area. These sales often feature a combination of old library books (discards) and books that have been donated by the members of the general public.
Better World Books
If you want to make sure your books get put to good use but don't want to choose a specific charity, Better World Books may be a good option for you to consider. This organization accepts all kinds of donated books, which they sell online as a way of raising money for a variety of partner nonprofit organizations that support literacy. Any donated books they receive that can't be sold are either given to one of the group's partner charities or recycled. They have donation bins in some areas (enter your zip code to find out if there is one near you). They also accept shipments of donated books.
Finding Places to Donate Books
While not every nonprofit organization accepts donated books, you're sure to be able to find several agencies or local thrift stores in your area that will be thrilled to receive the items that you want to share. Contact your local United Way agency to identify local groups that accept these types of donations. As with any items that you'd like to donate, it's best to make contact with representatives of the organizations you are considering and inquire about their needs. Let them know what types of books you have available and ask if such gifts are accepted. If the answer is no, ask for recommendations of other organizations that may have a need for the items.
Donate Books to Make a Difference
Donations of books can help nonprofits reduce operating expenses and provide services that help the community. Your generosity can have a positive impact on the organization that receives the donation and the individuals that it serves.
- Many nonprofits provide services that require various types of books. Without donations, funds would have to be allocated to purchasing reading materials. When people donate used books, the organizations can utilize available funds for other purposes.
- Book donations can also help charitable organizations and other types of nonprofits raise money. Even organizations that don't have thrift shops can raise money by selling books in rummage sales or via online fundraising auctions.
- Donating books can also have a positive impact on the environment, as books that the original owner no longer needs will end up being re-used by others rather than thrown away.
Keep a Record of Your Donation
Making this type of donation is a great way to provide support to a cause that you believe in without having to incur a direct out-of-pocket expense. Since you've already purchased the books, the gift won't cost you anything. Be sure to keep proper donation records if you hope to be able to write off the gift on your taxes. Make a list of the books that you donate and ask for a charitable donation receipt when you deliver the items to the organization. Attach the list to the receipt and store it with your other tax receipts so that you and your accountant have all the information necessary to claim the donation as a tax deduction if it is appropriate to do so.