Where to Donate Books in Your Community
Books! There is nothing better than the feeling of opening a new book, or reading a final paragraph in a great novel. But, if you’re a reading addict, those books can start to take up real space. If you donate them, you can give the stories new life and help someone else enjoy a new reading adventure!
If you’re in Chicago, just use Zealous Good to find out exactly which charities need your books. If you’re not in Chicago, here are some ideas of where to donate books.
Don’t laugh. It can be simple as that. Where is a good place to donate books? Preschools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges! Whether a student is 5 and growing and whether a student is 25, and well, uh, still growing, every student could use more books!
To learn more, you can look up your local school district online.
Like schools, tutoring centers are a place to learn. Books are always needed at these educational safe havens. These centers can never have too many books to pass out!
Look up tutoring centers online to find the closest one near you!
Open Books in Chicago
At Zealous Good, we have a bit of an organization crush on Open Books. They pick up books, have drop off points, and they do SO many great things with books for all ages. If you’re in Chicago, check out Open Books. You won’t be disappointed!
Otherwise, if you’re in the Chicago area, check out Zealous Good for where to donate books. Click here to submit your donation and we’ll find a charity that can benefit.
Brittany Martin Graunke is the founder of Zealous Good, an in-kind donations marketplace in Chicago. You can find Brittany on Google+ or on Twitter at @ZealousBrittany. You can find Zealous Good on Facebook and Zealous Good on Twitter at @ZealousGood.
A picture is worth a thousand words…
Hands down, my favorite thing about Zealous Good is when charities share with the donor about where their donation has ended up. It might just be a simple 2 sentence update or a photo, but just knowing where that donation is now means the world to us.
I wanted to share one of my favorite donation photos – it’s 3 kids at Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region testing out a new indoor roller coaster. The toy was donated from Groupon Goods. Their joy, excitement, and anticipation is clearly seeping out of them… something that the donor, Groupon Goods, made possible. This is why Zealous Good is here and we couldn’t be prouder.
If you have a donation story to share, send it our way at email@example.com!
What’s Good in March
March has arrived and we are hoping it brings spring along for the ride! As you wait out this extended winter, enjoy the company of new friends and warm a few hearts.
March 1: Children’s Advocacy’s 2014 gala, “An Evening of Hollywood Glamour,” will be a night of live entertainment, silent auctions, dinner and more on the Magnificent Mile!
March 6: Attend the 2nd Annual Blue & White Party for Imerman Angels. Help them recap a year of success and prepare for another great year of support for cancer fighters, survivors and caregivers.
March 13: Cathedral Shelter is now ReVive Center for Housing and Healing! Join them for an event that shows backs up and raises awareness for permanent, supportive housing.
March 22: Celebrate Sibs with Celebrate Differences! Sibshops are a great experience for siblings of kids with developmental or mental health concerns.
March 22: The Salvager’s Ball is a 5-year anniversary party and fundraiser for ReBuilding Exchange. Make a few new friends and enjoy the company of fellow recycling enthusiasts!
March 22: Metropolitan Family Services has a casual night of fun, dancing and hearty treats in store! Proceeds benefit Evanston/Skokie Valley children at risk of family and community violence, adults experiencing abuse and youth with mental illness.
By the way, if you can’t make it to any of these events, you can still support these charities – and many others – by donating items on Zealous Good! We hope you enjoy this fantastic month!
4 Things We Look for in a Non-Profit’s Website
Always wanting to help more organizations, reaching out to the innumerable Chicagoland non-profits is perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of our work here at Zealous Good. When searching for new, potential charities, I always peruse the charity’s website in pursuit of some key bits of information.
If you work with a nonprofit that is looking for a website upgrade, or even if you’re just curious as to how our outreach process works, this list of important website components may be helpful to you!
1. Specific Contact Information
Our first step in recruiting new charities is directly reaching out to them, which of course requires us to have their contact information. Finding contact info with a minimal amount of clicks is ideal, since those email addresses and phone numbers are so critical to any individual who wants to know more about that non-profit. Additionally, for larger charities with multiple staff members, it is helpful for us to see specific contact information for specific positions, so as to ensure we contacting the right person.
Easily accessible mission statements are not only valuable to donors—we look at them too! For us, reading a non-profit’s mission is essential to determining what sorts of in-kind donations we can help that particular non-profit receive. Sections entitled “About Us” or “Our Mission” are great ways to reduce the number of clicks between a visitor and a non-profit’s mission.
3. Social Media
Direct links to a charity’s social media pages allow us to see what’s been going on in that particular charity. If an organization is on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, displaying this information on the organization’s home page makes it so much easier for us to connect with them via social media.
4. Recent Updates
It is not at all uncommon to see active charities with websites that have not been updated for weeks, months, or even years. On a charity’s webpage I often look for recent events, fundraisers, and news. If a charity’s website is updated frequently, it can help us assess their current needs, as well as show us the recent endeavors and success of the charity.
By increasing accessibility to these four features, non-profits can make it easier for visitors to get the information they need in a timely manner. Website layout may not seem like a big deal, but studies show that the layout of a non-profit’s website can even affect the amount of donations received!
How to Find a Charity to Donate To
Giving to charity is a great thing to do! Whether it is donating money, in-kind goods or volunteering. Giving has a direct impact on others and even has health benefits for you! There are over one million registered 501(c)(3) charity organizations in the US to donate to. With so many to choose from here are some quick steps to go through to find a charity to donate to.
1. Find a cause that you are passionate about. There are many causes and issue areas that charities are focused on such as education, arts, environment, health, animals, human services and many more. Find something that you really care about and want to get involved with.
2. Find a charity. Once you know which cause you want to support find a charity that is making an impact related to that cause. It could be small local organization working in your city or a large charity working internationally. Smaller local organizations can be easier to get involved with and volunteer but larger organizations often have local chapters as well.
3. Verify a charity’s status. You can verify a charity’s status by doing a little searching on the internet. Most charities have their own websites that you can take a look at and where they will say that they are a tax exempt 501(c)(3) charity. These are tax exempt organizations that have registered with the IRS. You can also take a look at websites such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar that provide charity evaluations and previous financial statements. Organizations that have started recently may have only applied for tax exempt status but should be able to provide you with proof that they have applied.
4. Connect with the charity. Often a charities’ website will list ways to get involved and help which could include information on volunteering, an in-kind donation wishlist or even a direct link to make a financial contribution. Try to connect with someone at the charity organization who can tell you more about their work and how you can get involved.
5. Feel good! You have just donated to a charity organization! By following these steps you can make sure that you are always able to find a charity to donate to and that you feel good about supporting the organization. After you make a donation try to find other ways to stay involved and keep up with the work that the charity is doing.
If you live in the Chicagoland area and have excess goods to donate you can submit your donation on Zealous Good and we’ll help find a charity that is in need of your items. Zealous Good works with over 300 organizations that work in many different issue areas.
A Night with L’Arche Chicago
We all keep certain items “just in case,” I know I do. I had been keeping my laptop from college for a few years and even took the time to pack and move it – three times and across two states! One day, I finally realized I would never need this computer, but someone else might.
I decided to donate my laptop to L’Arche Chicago, a community of adults with and without developmental disabilities residing together and sharing daily lives. While discussing drop-off plans with their development and outreach coordinator, John, I was extended a dinner invitation to meet the residents of L’Arche Chicago’s Angel House.
I was really touched by the dinner invitation and how welcoming they were when I arrived. I hadn’t been in the apartment long before house member, Christianne, gave me her business card to keep in touch, told me countless stories and offered a tour of their home. During dinner I sat next to Tim, an art and fitness enthusiast and our chef for the night. He prepared vegan black bean burgers with regular and sweet potato fries. Not only was the meal incredible, but also much healthier than anything I would have made at home.
They discussed setting up times to catch up with each other in coming weeks, asked all about my life, shared details of their new kitchen donation and invited me to community nights. I learned a lot about their organization that night, but was most impacted by the members of their Angel House family. If you’re looking for an opportunity to become involved with a charity, I highly recommend L’Arche. You can also help by donating to their team as I did. Learn about their in-kind needs on their Zealous Good Charity Profile Page. If you’re lucky, you might even get an invitation for dinner!
Meet 826CHI – a Zealous Good Non-Profit Member
We spoke with Molly Walsh, the store manager at 826CHI, to learn more about this great organization. 826CHI is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. I imagine it as the place where cool creative kids become even cooler and more creative.
You can learn about their in-kind needs on their Zealous Good charity profile page.
What is the best thing about the work you do?
The best thing about working at 826 is getting to see the kids undergo a transformation, from totally fearing writing to getting excited to share their ideas, to having the confidence to put together a story on their own. Our programs, and our space, are designed to destigmatize something that is very intimidating to kids, and particularly scary to English language learners. It’s really thrilling to watch a classroom full of kids, for instance, during our Field Trips program in Storytelling and Bookmaking, applaud each other as each of their newly-bound books is approved and returned to them. The confidence these successes give the kids will trickle down through all areas of their scholastic growth; breaking down the barriers early just opens up this world of possibility for them.
It’s hard to talk about the value of our work in a quantifiable way, especially when it comes to Field Trips and Workshops. We work with thousands of students per year, some of whom we only see for a few hours at a time. Though they really do undergo a total shift in outlook during the few hours we see them, and taking home the book they’ve made in our space is visibly important to them, it’s not a thing that’s easily assessed in a clinical, numbers-oriented way. It makes funding a challenge.
826CHI is different in a lot of ways, but one of the most noticeable and fundamental is the built-in community of support. We have a huge volunteer base comprised of a diverse group of talented people, bringing a wide variety of skills to our students. Everyone from Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy to Michael Chabon to Molly Ringwald to Alex Kotlowitz has come out to support our work or provide direct service programming to the students. Because of the diversity of our volunteer base, we can offer workshops in poetry, music or food criticism, jingle-writing and advertising, fan-fiction, college essay writing, and journalism–and a lot more. It, again, really hits at that sense of the possibility in writing. By coming in to learn more about something the kids already love (say, for instance, music or food), they’re given a really easy entry point into writing as a tool for self-expression. It’s pretty special to see that.
One of the neatest things about 826CHI is that we’re part of a national network with sites in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Boston, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. Each space is a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit, sharing best practices and research and programming, and each has a different them to their storefront, which is the entryway into the tutoring lab.
In Chicago, our storefront is a secret agent supply store called–shh, don’t tell–The Boring Store. It purports to sell boxes, twine, other useless objects. But really, our kids enter the imaginative programming space by way of a shop that deals in grappling hooks, invisible ink, vintage luggage, magnifying glasses–where there are footprints on the ceiling, drawers to open, and a very curious quantity of carrier pigeons throughout the space.
Visitors to other cities will find a robot repair shop (Michigan), a time traveler’s convenience store (LA), a pirate supply shop (San Francisco), and many more inspiring and imaginative oddities. Full rundown here: http://826national.org/
We recently received a huge donation of filing cabinets from an accountant’s firm out in the southwest suburbs. The donation will not only enable us to store the mountains of student work and the paperwork the goes along with the hundreds of volunteers we orient per year, some of the cabinets will be used in the spy supply shop where we’ll be repurposing them into unique, Cold War-inspired shelving units and interactive displays. We were thrilled to get the donation, which has potentially saved us thousands of dollars in furniture costs.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Donation Story: Common Roots Initative
At Zealous Good we always enjoy receiving stories from our charity members of how donations have made an impact in the work they do. It shows us just how powerful in-kind donations can be and how they can make a difference. Common Roots Initiative is just one of many Zealous Good members that have been able to use excess goods to increase their fundraising efforts and make a greater impact.
Common Roots Initiative’s mission is to provide financial assistance to cash-strapped teachers and college-bound students from west suburban Chicago. They held their 2013 Scholarship Ceremony in Villa Park, IL and were able to double their outreach to teachers last year because of several silent auction items obtained through Zealous Good that were donated by Groupon Goods.
Kesha Green, Vice President at Common Roots Initiative said that “Our 2013 Scholarship Ceremony featured a silent auction of over 20 Zealous Good donation items, ranging from iPad accessories to an electric fireplace. The silent auction helped boost our fundraising efforts. When it was time to decide our 2013 Fall Teacher Scholarship winner, the money raised from those donations helped give us the flexibility to choose two deserving educators instead of one. Ashley G. and Alexander A. are to receive $1,000 each to help inspire their students. Ashley, an English teacher, is planning a Civil Rights-themed field trip, while Alexander seeks technological improvements to his science classroom. Thank you Zealous Good for providing a service that helps us make an impact on both sides of the academic desk!”
We are proud to work with organizations like Common Roots Initiative and help them with receiving in-kind donations If you have something to donate then submit it on Zealous Good and we’ll try to help find a charity that could use it.
Donate your warm clothes at Shop 1021 and *play in Logan Square!
We’ve all been struggling through a hard winter. But some are truly suffering. Let’s make sure we’re doing our part to keep everyone warm this year! In partnership with *play, Shop 1021 and Zealous Good please drop off warm coats, gloves, hats, scarves & blankets to either store by February 14th. You know you have things that are going unused…give them to a family who really needs them!
*play: 3109 W. Logan Blvd, Chicago, Illinois 60647
Shop 1021: 2650 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60647