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Give Back to the Community: How to Donate Your Old Books

Aug 09, 2012 02:43PM ● By Erin Frisch

Give Back to Your Community: How to Donate Your Old Books

I love to read. And like other book lovers, I tend to accumulate books. My collection piles up every so often and takes over my bookshelves, then oozes onto side tables, the coffee table, and—next stop—the floor. That’s when I take an afternoon to go through my books and give back to the community by donating them to a worthy cause. Here are some places to donate those gently used books and give back to your community while decluttering your space.

1. The Salvation Army The Salvation Army accepts donations of used goods, including hardcover and paperback books. You can find drop-off locations in your community on the Salvation Army website. Donations end up stocking Salvation Army stores, or providing reading materials for Salvation Army’s homeless shelters.

2. Goodwill Goodwill accepts used book donations to resell in their stores. Drop-off locations near you can be found on their website. Proceeds from sales go to fund job training and placement services, and other programs that help those in your community who face employment challenges, such as people with disabilities.

3. Libraries Many public libraries have a “friends of the library” organization that holds book sales and other fundraisers to benefit the library and its special programs, such as guest speakers and children’s programs. Some use donated books to stock library shelves. Generally, they accept donations in “like new” and “gently used” condition. Check with your local library branch to see if they are accepting donations.

4. Got Books? Got Books? accepts all books including hardcover and paperback books, new and old, textbooks, children’s books, fiction and nonfiction. They don’t accept encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, or catalogs. If you have over 50 items, they may even come pick them up . Some books are sent overseas to members of the armed forces as part of the Books for Troops initiative, and some are given to teachers for their classrooms as part of the Books for Teachers program. In addition, if you have an idea for a fundraiser, you can start your own book drive. Got Books?  provides crates you can use to collect donations from your neighborhood. They then purchase your used books and cut you a check to give to the charity of your choice.

5. Books for Soldiers After signing up as a volunteer on their website, you can create care packages with your used books and send them to deployed soldiers overseas. Browse through the soldiers’ book requests, though most are grateful for anything you are willing to give. You can also donate CDs or DVDs in your care package.

6. Books Through Bars Books Through Bars and Books To Prisoners collect donated books and distribute them to inmates across the country. Access to reading materials helps prisoners who aspire to gain more education and helps them adjust to life beyond prison at the end of their sentences. You can find a list of the most-wanted materials on the Books Through Bars website. It includes dictionaries, books written in Spanish, GED and ESL study guides, textbooks, history books, drug and alcohol recovery books, and spiritual books.

7. International Book Donations Program 

Donate books to institutions, organizations, and town and village programs that have no other way of acquiring reading and educational material. Choose where to donate via the geographical index, or check out the international section, which lists large agencies that collect and redistribute books to many countries. The website lists the types of books requested along with contact information. Be sure to get in touch with them first to make sure they need your specific materials.

Before you donate, check out a charity’s book donation policies. Not all of these listed above offer tax deductions for your donations, though some do. In addition, different charities need certain types of books, so you may have to donate to more than one organization to get rid of all the books you are hoping to rehome. If the charity does offer tax deductions, be sure to get a receipt and keep track of the books you donate and their conditions in the event of a tax audit later on.

Are you passionate about a specific organization? If so, share your story with us and ask people to donate.


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