Wondering what to do with your old books which you no longer need? Why not use them to make a difference and help others through the power of giving?
There are many great benefits of donating your pre-loved books to charity: you can help improve the lives of others, declutter your home and save the environment. However, while making the decision to give is easy, many of us often get stuck when it comes to the “where” and “how”. No more excuses – we’ve compiled a list of charities and organisations here in Singapore who will happily take some of your gently-used books (and other items) off your hands:
1. The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, which has been around since 1935, runs programmes and social services to help meet the needs of the underprivileged in the community. Their funds come from sales of secondhand items at their Family Thrift Stores. So if you have plenty of old books to spare and would like to contribute them to a good cause, consider donating them here.
What you can donate: Hardback or paperback books. Besides books, you may also donate pre-loved toys, clothing, furniture, household goods and electronic devices.
Where: Drop off your items at any of the Donation-In-Kind booths which are located all over the island. The addresses of the booths can be found here. If you wish to donate bulkier items, you may arrange for a collection service by calling +65 6288 5438, making an online booking, or emailing donor@SMM.salvationarmy.org with a brief description of what you wish to donate, your collection address and contact number. The organisation would appreciate a donation of $60 per collection, although this is optional.
2. Blessings in a Bag (BIAB)
Over the weekend, some of our kids who are part of our #BeyondAwesome program got to be the first to borrow books from #theawesomelibrary – they were ecstatic, with some of them enthusiastically diving into their books on their bus ride home. Your books have a new life in this space and will bring these kids to fantasy lands, exciting adventures and allow them to meet characters galore! #blessingsinabag #singapore #giveback #givingsg #livingisgiving
Founded by former radio host Emily Teng, Blessings in a Bag is a non-profit organisation which partners communities, orphanages, homes, and schools across Asia. The goal? To provide disadvantaged children with the essentials they need to thrive and feel safe, valued, and happy. Blessings in a Bag collects and distributes toys, hygiene products and school supplies to families in rural communities. Anything that isn’t given away is resold to help cover operational costs.
What you can donate: Children’s books (educational or story books for kids aged 12 and under). They also welcome donations of children’s clothes, arts and crafts supplies, school bags, and blankets. Check their website for their full wishlist, which is regularly updated based on the needs and requests of the communities they serve.
Where: 315 Outram Road, #08-06A Tan Boon Liat Building. Their volunteer team only operates during specific hours on specific days – so before heading over with the items you wish to donate, do check the drop-off timings listed here.
3. Dignity Mama Stall
An initiative of Project Dignity Pte Ltd, Dignity Mama Stalls are kiosks which sell pre-loved books, managed by young adults with special needs and their parents. The project equips special needs youth with the aptitude, skills and confidence to run a business, and allows their parents to work while caring for their kids. You can find the stalls at the National University Hospital, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and Ng Teng Fong Hospital.
What you can donate: English or Chinese books (fiction and non-fiction), magazines like Reader’s Digest or National Geographic, comics, arts and crafts books and encyclopedias.
Where: The organisation welcomes donations at any time, but you’ll need to notify them at least three working days in advance before dropping off your items.
4. Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO)
Established in 1980, the SCWO is the national coordinating body of women’s organisations in Singapore. The group has a thrift shop (called New2U) where they sell unwanted items to raise money for charity. By donating, you’ll be helping them fund social initiatives such as Star Shelter, a refuge for survivors of domestic violence.
What you can donate: Books and toys, pre-loved clothing and shoes, bags and accessories, household items, crockery and utensils. (Note: New2U does not accept furniture, used electrical items, used towels, or old video cassette tapes.)
Where: Label items for donation with “Donations for New2U”, and drop them off at the SCWO Centre at 96 Waterloo Street. The centre is open Monday to Sunday, from 9am to 8pm.
5. Singapore Really Really Free Market (SRRFM)
The SRRFM is a temporary market where everything is really, really free. It aims to build up the community through the sharing of resources. If you have any items, services or skills that would benefit your local community – which you don’t mind giving away for free – you’re welcome to set up a stall.
What you can donate: Items like books, toys or clothing. You can also offer your skills or services to others (like massages, tarot readings, yoga lessons, etc.)
Where: Different locations throughout Singapore, every two months. Visit their Facebook page to book your space and learn more.
6. EcoBank Collection Drive
Every year, EcoBank (a joint initiative between City Developments Limited and Eco-Business) organises an island-wide collection drive for pre-used items. These are sold at their EcoBank Bazaar. The event helps raise funds for The Children’s Charities Association of Singapore (CCA). Since it comes right on the heels of the festive season, it’s a good time to spring clean in support of a good cause. Any unsold items are given to the CCA.
What you can donate: Books, toys, clothes and accessories.
Where: Keep an eye on the event page on EcoBank’s main website to know when and where the next collection drive will be held.
7. FairPrice Share-A-Textbook
Formerly known as the FairPrice Used Textbooks Project, this is part of NTUC FairPrice’s ongoing effort to help needy families provide for their children’s education, promote recycling and encourage thriftiness. The group collects pre-loved textbooks that are still in good condition, and distributes them to disadvantaged students and families.
What you can donate: Gently-used school books which are still in good condition. Do check the approved textbook list beforehand to find out if your textbooks are still part of the current syllabus.
Where: You can choose to donate your used textbooks for the project either through their website, by downloading the FairPrice Share-a-Textbook app, or by visiting any of the 30 conveniently-located book drop-off locations listed in their FAQ.
8. Singapore Freecycle Network
If you really can’t find anywhere else to donate your books, consider freecycling them. The term “freecycle” refers to the act of giving away usable unwanted items to others who need them. The growing global movement has an active group in Singapore. Here, people with functional items they don’t need are matched with those who need them.
What you can donate: Any item in good working condition.
Where: Visit the group’s Facebook page and post a picture of the items you want to give away. Interested takers will then respond to the offer and make arrangements for collection.
9. Public Libraries
Did you know that you can ‘donate’ your books at the libraries in Singapore? All our public libraries (except those in malls) have Book Exchange Corners. You can drop off your books at these dedicated shelves for fellow book lovers to pick up and enjoy.
Before You Give…
Before giving away your books or other pure-loved items to any organisation, check out their donation policies so that you’ll have a better idea of the types of books (and other donations) that they need. Also, check your items for wear and tear, and do your part to make the volunteers’ jobs easier by organising and packing them in groups that go together.