Are you moving or decluttering? Or maybe you just need to make space on your bookshelves for new books! Either way, you'd like to know where to donate books. Here are the best options:
1. Your local charity store
These would be thrift shops that sell used items cheaply with the revenue supporting a charity. Well-known examples of these worldwide are the Salvation Army shop and St. Vincent de Paul stores. Depending where you live, you will also likely have other church-based and secular charitable stores near you. It's worth doing a search for "charity store" or "charity shop" plus the name of your town or city (e.g. Kansas City).
2. Your city's homeless shelters
You should call up to ask first if your local homeless shelter is in need of books. This can greatly help them if they are in need. But don't feel slighted if they don't want your books. Many shelters have to make the most of every bit of space they have, so it may be that they don't have anywhere for the books to be. It may also be that the residents have more pressing needs, such as resume training and job skills. Anything that doesn't fulfil the most pressing needs may be declined so staff and volunteers can focus on those needs. It's always well worth asking though - if they need your books, you will be making a huge difference to a sector of the population who really need it.
3. Freecycle or other local donation groups
Freecycle is a great way to make sure your books get a good home locally! You simply sign up to your local freecycle group and put up a listing saying your books are available. Facebook is another venue for that. Do be careful about your safety - arrange pickup in such a way that you don't have to meet a stranger or let them into your home. When you have someone interested in your books, you can indicate a pickup window timeframe for them to pick up the books from your front porch or other similar area. The great news about this is that you don't have to go anywhere - the recipient will pick up your books.
BetterWorldBooks, although not a charity itself, supports literacy charities through direct donation of books to needy areas worldwide, such as some parts of Africa. It has a mission to keep books out of landfills and will never throw away your book. It's a for-profit online bookstore for used books, but it's still a great place to donate books because of their socially and environmentally conscious mission. They have donation boxes in places all over the US, although it can be rather hit-or-miss: some areas have lots, other areas none. The good news is that it's not just the big cities that have them.
5. Habitat for Humanity ReStore
You local Habitat for Humanity ReStore may be needing books. It's worth calling your local ReStore first, as some have to make the most of their space and are only accepting large items such as washing machines, refrigerators, beds, etc. Call up and find out! If they accept them, it's a great place for your book to find a good home.
6. Put them out on the curb with a "Free" sign
If you have a decent amount of drive-by or foot traffic on your street, and if the weather is good, clearly label them with a sign "Free" and most likely you will find they get taken pretty quickly. This works well if you're in an area or season with little to no rainfall, but otherwise it's best to try one of the other avenues above. After all, it would defeat the purpose of giving them away if your books get damaged by weather before they can make it to a good home!
Above are 6 options for donating books. It's a great feeling when you free up that extra space in your home!