When launching a book drive to gather young adult LGBT books for the library at the local Seattle LGBT youth services organization Lambert House, there was only one question to answer. Should there be a wedding or a baby?
“Amazon has excellent gift registries that are really easy for people to use to gift items, but they only have two kinds—baby registries or weddings,” said Tracy Timmons-Gray, volunteer for the writing nonprofit Old Growth Northwest and coordinator for the book drive to expand Lambert House’s library offerings. “So, we decided to have a ‘baby’ book drive.”
In partnership with Lambert House, Timmons-Gray went ahead with the baby registry and curated a list of over 70 young adult books that have LGBT themes or main characters, including popular titles like Geography Club by Brent Hartinger, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, and Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills. After the list was built, she shared it on social media and on the online reading community GoodReads to see who would be interested in helping expand Lambert House’s young adult book collection.
“It was shocking how successful the book drive and the gift registry has been,” said Timmons-Gray. In just over a week since the drive officially launched on November 9, 76 books from the registry have been purchased by donors from all over the world, from Seattle to Finland, equivalent to the amount of over $700 in donations.
“What’s great is that I heard from multiple people that it was so easy for them to use the registry,” said Timmons-Gray, “and that they really appreciated being guided on what to buy for Lambert House. All they needed to do was pick a book off the list and purchase it. By using a gift registry, we were able to make donating goods to a nonprofit as easy as a one-click Amazon shopping experience.”
Could this method be replicated for other nonprofit organizations? “Absolutely,” said Old Growth Northwest Executive Director Alexander Haddad, who recommends that other nonprofits should examine Amazon’s gift registry and wish list system as a way to engage donors on gifting tangible goods that could range from as everyday as toilet paper to as specialized as Christmas gifts for those staying at a shelter. Haddad adds that gift registries cannot replace the necessity for cash donations to nonprofits, since donations often go towards covering program costs, staff salaries, and overhead. “But the beauty of the gift registry is that it offers something that’s easy, tangible, and oftentimes very affordable, so you can attract a donor who might otherwise not donate. It’s easy for many people to look at a book that costs $7 and think, ‘Oh, I can give that.’”
The young adult LGBT book drive for Lambert House is running until December 15, with only a few books left on their wish list. “It’s amazing how generous people can be,” said Timmons-Gray, “If you give them the right tools.”