There’s no better way to truly become part of your neighborhood than to give back to those in need within your neighborhood or city. But don’t worry, you don’t need to plan a large-scale charity event or be involved in a black-tie gala to make a difference. In fact, it’s better to pick a small, local charity that you can really impact. For example, hosting a book drive to benefit a local literacy group, needy school, or library is the perfect way to give back to your community.

See the Charity & Community Give-Back Course for the comprehensive approach to this topic.


Hosting a book drive for a local group in need is an easy way to give back to your community. To increase connection with your local community (and, for the greatest local impact), we recommend selecting ONE school or program to “adopt” as your own, and donate books solely to them. While it is tempting to want to help multiple organizations, you’ll have the greatest impact if you concentrate on helping one program. Don’t know who to help? Simple! Do some online research to see if there are needy schools, libraries or local literacy programs that you could help within your community, and contact them to see how you can help. Certain programs might need certain types of books (children’s books, educational books, etc.) in specific conditions (new, gently used, etc.) – so be sure to see what they really need.

What do you need to host a book drive?

  • A system for receiving donations… will you have a staff member accept donations from customers, or will there be a box or a bin in a common area? 
  • Adequate space for storing donations. Best case scenario- your book drive will be a huge success! Now, where are you going to safely store all of those books? Make sure you have boxes and tape for storing donations.
  • Timing for when to begin the drive, and how long you will accept donations.
  • A goal for success. We recommend at least 50 books per location.

After sorting out the logistics, you need to promote your book drive! Use fliers in store, take out an ad in your local paper, and advertise on various social media channels. Make sure to include important information like:

  • The dates of the drive
  • Various locations for donations
  • What books to bring and in what condition you will accept them
  • Purpose of the book drive
  • Incentive for donations (if applicable)

As an added “thank you” to customers that donate, consider offer them a 10% discount coupon for their next purchase (if you own / operate a retail store), or a free coffee or dessert from your menu  (if you own / operate a restaurant). Not necessary, but a fun way to thank your customers, for sure, and encourage their involvement!

If you have multiple stores, you could create an incentive contest. At Starbucks, we found incentive contests to really drive engagement of the store teams and thus their customers. Winning store gets a party for the team and their customers!

You could also do a kick-off event to create a celebration in your location. Invite the local charity to be at the event and speak about their organization. If not a kick-off event, you could also consider a wrap-up celebration. For either event, consider inviting the media to cover your event and that could mean free publicity!

After the drive, sort and package the books for your chosen organization. Often, it’s helpful to divide them up by genre or alphabetically by author. After they are sorted, drop them off at the specified location.

Donate or recycle books that you could not accept for your organization, for one reason or another (in poor condition, not the appropriate genre, etc.).

Lastly, don’t forget to thank your contributors! Take to the social media airwaves and advertise in store to let people know how you did! Reference your cause, and inform them of how many donations you received – your customers will want to know that they helped make a difference in their community! Plus, it will help generate buzz for your next in-store charity event, and solidify you as part of the community.

Photo Source: flickr.com/photos/76686348@N05/7982852568/