I admit it, I’m a book junkie.

The bookshelves at my apartment are crammed full.  The desk is piled high.  Novels open to various pages are stacked on top of my nightstand.

I can’t imagine not being able to have them.

So, when I stumbled upon this list of nonprofits that provide books to underprivileged populations and areas, I decided to do some investigating.

If you have some extra copies in good condition lying around, consider donating to any one of these initiatives.

1. Name: Books for America
Mission: Promote literacy and “life-long learning” by distributing books and educational materials to organizations.
Serves: People of all ages.  Recipients include adult and youth literacy programs, youth centers, homeless shelters, hospitals, inner-city and rural schools, military bases, assisted living communities for seniors, veterans’ hospitals, women’s shelters, and hospices.
How to help: Donate books, have a book drive, volunteer.

2. Name: Bring Me  a Book
Mission: Provide easy access to new, multicultural, quality hardcover children’s books in multiple languages.
Serves:Underserved preschools, elementary schools, after-school programs, shelters, community centers, and businesses both in the U.S. and in foreign countries.
How to help: Donate.

3. Name: Reach Out and Read
Mission: Promote literacy as a standard part of pediatric primary care; train doctors and nurses to advise parents about the importance of reading aloud and to give books to children at pediatric checkups from 6 months to 5 years old.
Serves: Clinics throughout the U.S.
How to help: Donate books, make a monetary donation, volunteer.


In the U.S., a couple hundred dollars might not buy much more than a pair of designer jeans.

In a developing country, it could be enough to permanently lift someone out of poverty.

Kiva is a micro-lending organization created with this idea in mind.  Its self-proclaimed goal is just that: “connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.”

Kiva allows lenders to browse profiles of budding entrepreneurs, whose qualifications are verified by Kiva’s partnering microfinance institutions, before choosing recipients for their loans.

Lenders can also sort profiles by gender, country, etc., if there is a specific group or region they’d like to support.

After making an immediate loan through the site, lenders can choose to receive email journal updates and track repayments.  Kiva also maintains a blog.

Once repaid – and Kiva has an incredibly high repayment rate – the funds can be loaned to someone new.

Every time I visit Kiva’s site, I marvel at how such a simple idea is bringing about such steady change, literally one person at a time.

What you can do:

End hunger. Fight world poverty. Give everyone a home.

We’re all familiar with these far-reaching global goals. Many of us, recognizing both their importance and nobility, do what we can to join such seemingly impossible fights.

But what about the less general (and therefore less-publicized) charities established to serve a more specific need? I’ve compiled a list of five unusual niche charities that, for donations or purchases of less than $100, promise to do quite a bit with what you give them.

1. Name: BoGo Light
Purpose: For every flashlight purchased from BoGo Light, one is given to a family in a developing area. This eliminates the danger and inconvenience of more rudimentary lighting methods like kerosene oil and candles. The site also claims that the lighting provided can make an exceptional difference for students in poor areas as education hours can be extended and homework/reading time at home can be well-lit.
Price to give: $39-49 per flashlight.

2. Name: Charity:Water (charitywater.org)
Purpose: $1 can give one person drinking water for a full year. Donations start at $20, which provides someone with 20 years of clean drinking water. Puts 100% of donations directly toward the project.
Price to give: $20.

3. Name: Modest Needs
Purpose: Lists requests by low-income families for help with paying for items like a new car seat or one month’s heating bill. Every donation made earns Modest Needs points on the site, which can then be directed to the family request of your choice (request list is available for your review). By signing up for donations on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, schedule, donations are doubled by a matching program. Requires registration for security of donations.
Price to give: Any amount, but most requests are over 100 points.

4. Name: One Acre At A Time
Purpose: According to the USDA Forest Service, nearly four acres of natural American forest is lost per minute.  This organization works to protect productive American forests in order to work toward sustainable living.
Price to give: $50 saves 200 square feet.

5. Name: Malaria No More
Purpose: According to this organization, roughly 3,000 children die each day from malaria. In addition to effective medical treatment and targeted spraying, mosquito nets are critical in fighting malaria infection. A single treated mosquito net can protect one child or more from malaria for up to five years.
Price to give: $10 buys one net.