The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation’s year-end campaign kick-off on Giving Tuesday, November 28, got off to a strong start toward its goal of raising $20,000 by the end of the year, according to Binc Executive Director Pamela French.
Called the #MoreThanEver campaign in light of recent natural disasters, starting this summer with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and later the deadly wildfires in Northern California, the organization’s campaign began with a series of Facebook fundraisers aimed at earning a share of $2 million in matching funds currently being offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Giving Tuesday really started off with a bang for us,” said French. “We appreciate every place that featured us because our year-end campaign started off stronger this year than any other year. We’ve gotten some very generous gifts since the 28th; it’s been a phenomenal kick-off.”
In advance of the kick-off, Ingram Publisher Services donated more than $10,000 to Binc on behalf of its publishing clients. In addition, the Binc Board of Directors as well as a founding member of the foundation offered to match donations from individuals and stores up to a total of $8,000, according to French. One week into the fundraising campaign, the organization has received more than half the funds that are available for the $8,000 match. Since Giving Tuesday, Binc also received another offer from an individual donor for a match of up to $5,000.
“This is typically the time of year where we would use the annual campaign like any other nonprofit: to help build funds for the upcoming year,” said French. “The funds are also going to be used to cover this year’s gap, because the assistance needs have trended significantly higher than we had planned.”
Binc’s growing status as independent booksellers’ go-to source for aid is also reflected in the American Booksellers Association’s recent decision to designate the organization as its featured charity for the 2018 Winter Institute in Memphis, from January 22–25, 2018. As part of this initiative, representatives from Binc will host a game called “Heads or Tails,” in which individuals have the opportunity to donate to the foundation by guessing the results of a series of coin tosses. In the game, Binc will sell Memphis-themed pins for donations: $20 gets one flashing pin, which gives the purchaser one chance to play and win, and $35 gets two pins, which equals two chances to win the grand prize — a $500 American Express gift card.
“The game is fast, fun, and a great way to spread awareness of the foundation,” said French. “We’ve done it at SIBA for the past two years, and the funds brought in have been able to cover grant requests for four booksellers. We were thrilled when we learned we had been chosen as ABA’s featured charity at Winter Institute. We’re really excited to have this partnership.”
French said Binc usually expects to get at least one request for assistance each week of the year. As of this week, the organization has received 102 requests; the total requests received in 2016 was 45. Binc budgeted $15,000 for natural disaster relief this year, but so far, the organization has distributed $85,674 in disaster relief funding.
“As of right now, we have helped seven stores with our store disaster recovery pilot program as well as 25 individuals and their families,” said French. “Overall for this year, the total funds distributed for all assistance requests was $215,921, which is 138 percent over what we did in 2016, to 89 booksellers.”
One of the bookstores that received an assistance grant as part of Binc’s Disaster Recovery Assistance for Bookstores pilot program was Readers’ Books in Sonoma, California, whose owner, Andy Weinberger, thanked Binc for helping keep the 25-year-old store afloat: “Ask anyone, and they will tell you that Readers’ Books is one of the main cultural pillars here. So thank you again for your generous support. It means the world to us, and even more to our wonderful community.”
French said the organization anticipates an increase in assistance requests every year and actually hopes for it, since it indicates a growing awareness of Binc among booksellers. This year, however, the number of requests due to natural disasters was more than the organization has ever seen.
“It’s bittersweet because this is what we have been working toward for five years — that when something happens, people know they can turn to Binc, they know where that safety net is,” said French. “All of the relationships with our partners — bookstores and publishers — all of that came together this year so that when the disasters did hit, one after another after another, people knew where to come. It feels tremendous to know that people know we’re here; on the other hand, it’s heartbreaking knowing the level of need that is out there right now.”
Donations can be made to Binc’s #MoreThanEver year-end campaign here. Industry leaders that would like to support Binc can e-mail Director of Development Kathy Bartson or call her at (734) 471-0201. Booksellers can contact Binc at (866) 733-9064 or firstname.lastname@example.org.