Fundraising: Get People to Buy the Book

Bake sales, car washes, silent auctions, galas—whether it’s for school, church, or saving the animals, we’re always looking for fresh ways to raise funds and involve the community in the great non-profit work that stirs our passions.

Have you considered selling books instead of brownies and cookies? Have you considered selling one item instead of many at a rummage sale? Try fundraising by making a book!

Here’s the how-to:

Create a book of content that matters to your donor community. You can either pay for the project up front and keep the markup as the raised funds or solicit ads and donations to fund the project and give all the revenue to your cause.  Depending on the scale of the project, you can print them offset, print them on-demand, sell them online or sell them in person at events throughout the year.

One example of a great project we’ve seen at Blurb is Landfill Dogs, a project by Shannon Johnstone. Shannon was a photographer for a local animal shelter, donating her services to create profiles of pets that needed adopting. She took them to a park that was built on top of an old landfill, and with a series of beautiful, moving photographs, talks about the crisis of abandoned animals. She printed her project offset, sold them online, and donated $10 per copy sold to the Heal-a-Heart fund. Her copies completely sold out in record time.

But what if you’re coordinating a fundraiser for something less photogenic?

Here are 5 ways to put the pages to work in your favor:

  1. Make a Children’s book. These sell well for primary or elementary school fundraisers. Tell an epic story about school age kid, and have it illustrated by the art teacher or someone else with artistic capabilities. Hold an auction to name the start of the story after one of the students or offer it as a prize for fundraiser participation.
  2. Make a community cookbook. Daily cooking is no easy task, and everyone is always looking for inspiration and new favorites. Round up the tried-and-true family gems from classmates, teammates, and your biggest fans and create a gorgeous cookbook that celebrates the goodness of coming together.
  3. Make a local neighborhood guide. Create reference that celebrates the good little treasures in your community. Take photos of local places like museums, parks, buildings, restaurants, historical sites, beautiful vistas—anywhere worth going that an outsider might not know to visit. Include contact information and Hours of Operation. Get local businesses to donate coupons for the back. People love to see themselves in print, but it’s also a great way to make a sense of place and community.
  4. Make a local history book. A spin on the neighborhood guide, interview people who have been on the scene for a long time. Make a book that preserves their memories of what the landscape used to look like, solicit photographs and anecdotes. Tell the stories of a place that only locals know. You can promote it with coupons in the back, or sell it around town with a note about where the proceeds will go.
  5. Commission a local artist. Do you have a writer, painter, photographer, designer in your community who is known for good work? See if they would donate some work and bind it in a book. Maybe it’s a monograph of a single photographer or painter. Maybe you have a few of different kinds of artists, and maybe your book is a collection and celebration of single pieces by different artists.  Local, beautiful, coffee table books make great commemorations and gifts.


Have any other ideas for fundraising books? Share them in the comments below!


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