Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Help by sending books or money?

A friend asked if we would like a donation of gently used children's books. Here's my reply,

We love books, but shipping is very expensive, so we prefer carefully selected books (multicultural themes, animal tales, etc....) Imagine you've grown up in a village with no electricity, escalators or energy bars... will the book make sense?

We especially appreciate book donations if you can box and send them yourself. We can send you a letter of tax deductibility after they are received in Ghana, Tanzania, or Uganda (for English books) or Burkina (for French books). Drop us an email and we can get you the relevant address and shipping information. M-Bag is the cheapest, but the Post Office eliminated the surface M-bag, so now they go by air, and two medium sized boxes of books in one M-bag, maybe 50 lbs., costs about $130. If you can make a small donation towards the postage (about $40 for a typical box).

An alternative is to ship your books to the warehouse of African Library Project or Books for Africa or Sudan-American Education Foundation; they repackage and send in containers.

Since you are a friend I'll be totally candid: usually if you itemize on taxes you can donate the books to Goodwill or your local public library, and itemize the donation as a charitable contribution. I don't know what the correct value is for used books (some tax softwares come with these valuations) but suppose you have 50 books x $4 a book=$200, and at marginal tax rate of 30% you get a $65 reduction in taxes, and then donate that $65 to FAVL, and you get to deduct the donation, so if you itemize that donation you get another a $20 reduction, so really you could donate $80 to FAVL from dropping your books off at the neighborhood thrift shop! Seems like a win-win to me.

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