Last week I wrote a Monday Musings about the current, relatively positive, state of play for bookshops in Australia. Responding to that post on Facebook, one of my longstanding friends, and an original member of my bookgroup, reminded me of the Lifeline Bookfair which is held regularly in Canberra, and to which I have donated many books. I didn’t mention Lifeline because that post was about shops selling “new” books. However, she made me realise that while I have also written about secondhand book shops before, I have never specifically written about those organisations which sell books to raise money for charity (or good works). Now is that time …
First, though, a brief comment. A few years ago, knowing that bookselling is the prime fundraiser for some charities, such as Lifeline, I wondered what would happen to their fundraising goals in the new world of digital books. Well, I needn’t have worried. Books are still raising plenty of funds for charities. I’m not the only one, it appears, who still loves the printed book!
Lifeline Bookfair (Canberra)
The most visible seller of books for charity in my city is Lifeline. Lifeline is a national organisation providing 24-hour crisis support, particularly, but not exclusively, in the area of suicide prevention. It relies on volunteers to staff the support phones, and to raise money for the work of the organisation. A major fundraiser in my city – and I think in other parts of Australia – is the Lifeline Bookfair, which is held three times a year. It is hugely successful, and a big-ticket event on Canberra booklovers’ calendars. (Not mine, though. I donate to it, but I stay away! If I ever start to run out of books to read, however, I know where to go!) For Lifeline Canberra, these bookfairs are “the cornerstone” of their “financial strategy”, and currently bring in between $1 to $2 million for the organisation.
As well as the physical book fairs, Lifeline also runs an online service. I should add that besides books, they also sell records, DVDs, CDs, jigsaws and related products. For Mr Gums, Lifeline is a good source for the foreign language books (German, to be precise) that he likes to read.
There are Lifeline organisations throughout Australia and many, if not all, raise funds through booksales. We donated, for example, many books from my Aunt’s estate last year to her nearest Sydney operation.
This is a social enterprise run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence which aims to tackle poverty in Australia. Its bookselling, mainly carried out online but also available through their physical stores in Victoria, is also volunteer run. They say that when you buy books from them
you also keep them out of landfill, reduce your carbon footprint, and support the many worthy charitable programs run by the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
Vinnies and Salvos
St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies) and the Salvation Army (Salvos) run secondhand shops throughout Australia, and sell books at these shops along with clothing and household goods. Both organisations aim to reduce social injustice, particularly poverty.
Vinnies, and probably Salvos, also give books to families in need.
And of course, there’s an array of smaller charities which sell books to support their activities, starting with school, church and hospital fetes and stalls.
Also, the Australian online donations platform, GiveNow, lists a number of organisations which accept donated books, some of these to sell for fundraising (such as Brotherhood Books) and others to distribute to those in need (such as the Aboriginal Literacy Foundation, which is particularly interested in children’s books).
Do you buy from, or donate to, charity booksellers? Please give a shout out to your favourite/s – particularly if I haven’t mentioned them here.