Any Advice for Smiling Library

Last Friday, talked with breeze and stonesee on the smiling library project. It is a very nice charity organization to gather old books and send it to very poor schools in the less developed areas in China. It started with an idea and now has less than 7 organizers. However, they have successfully setup 6 libraries in Yun Nan.

Breeze asked about the operation practices to run such a charity program. This kind of Non Government Organization (NGO) is not a common practice. They are very interested to learn how people in other countries run this kind of organization? What is the organizational structure? Who make the final call for decisions? How to ensure the quality of the libraries… there are many questions there. I shared my thoughts with them, but definitely need to learn more. Do you have any advice to make the project more successful?

5 thoughts on “Any Advice for Smiling Library

  1. Jianshuo, you’re clearly keeping yourself occupied! Good work. :)

    A charity in the US or UK typically has a special tax status in that donations (including non-cash items) may be tax deductible. To gain this advantage, an application has to be made to the relevant tax authorities. Often an accounting or law firm will handle the paperwork.

    NGOs and NPOs (Non-profit organizations, or Not-for-profit organizations) aren’t necessarily charities. Nonetheless, in organizational terms, there should be a formal committee (or governing board) overseeing the organization, with day-to-day affairs delegated to officers appointed by the commitee.

    These details will be governed by the relevant constitutional documents which are required to form the “entity” in the first place.

  2. Good comments, William. I’ve been mulling around in my head how to answer this post. You tweaked my memory to when I was once in charge of a project which required establishing our group as an official non-profit organization. We wrote the by-laws (rules by which we would later be governed) and I probably have a (deeply-buried) copy of those somewhere. If you think they would be even remotely useful to this group, Jian Shuo, I would be more than happy to dig them out and forward them to you, or there are probably more current examples now on the ‘net. It sounds like a wonderful project, and no matter how it’s set up, the most important element of success in such an endeavor is the energy, commitment, and *passion* brought to it by the volunteers. Good luck to them!

  3. Jian,

    Have them contact US public libraries. Public libraries only have so much space and so to make room for new books, they have to get rid of old books. I would be surprised if American public libraries wouldn’t like to ship their old books to your organization to distribute to rural public libraries. Likewise, contact American bookstores and see if they would ship over their non-selling stock. The bookstores should be able to write it off as a donation and if not, I’d suggest you set up a t@x-exempt non-profit branch in the USA so they can do that.

    You might be able to raise money from Americans by asking them to help rural libraries in China. A few choice photographs of how small such rural libraries are and you’ll likely get donations. I would suggest you ask for cash or books. If you educate Americans how they can write off such donated books on their t@xes, you might get flooded with books.

    Another idea is to try to raise donations from computer programmers in America to buy computers and internet connections for these rural libraries. Computer programmers are soft touches if you know how to approach them. The key is seeking Geek. *laugh*

    Set up a website for all the above. Have a counter on how many books you’ve been able to give rural libraries. Show pictures of rural libraries. Have a donation form. Hook up with Amazon or another online bookstore where people can purchase books and have them directly sent to your organization. Have a Wish List of books you’d like to buy for the rural libraries and a way for people to purchase these books via Amazon or such.

    Approach Chinese and American celebrities and ask if they wouldn’t mind be a spokesperson for your organization. If you can snag one, having them appear on talk radio programs in the US could cause a huge influx of donations and books.

  4. I have books to send, what is the procedure. I went to “” but I can’t read “Chinese”. I need help. Happy Holidays

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