The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) has provided booksellers support for over 22 years, and their substantial impact has changed our industry. Binc has created an easy way to give back to brick and mortar bookstore- employees during financial crisis. They have given over $6.5 million in tax free financial assistance and scholarships to more than 7,300 families and they are always striving to make a difference in the book industry. We recently spoke with Pamela French, Binc’s Executive Director, to hear about how they are continuing to help and influence the lives of indies.
Q) How has Binc evolved over the past five years?
A) Over the past five years, Binc has been able to earn our credibility. Our vision to be known, embraced and supported across the book industry has made great strides. Binc helped more booksellers in 2017 than in the previous two years combined. Because of this, the strategic funding plan is a bit ahead of schedule (knock on wood.) From long time partners like Ingram Content Group to brand new publishers, stores, authors and bookseller partners the outpouring of support has been needed and greatly appreciated.
Q) How have the goals of Binc changed to reflect the needs of booksellers?
A) Every two years Binc conducts a public survey to gauge if we are meeting our internal goals and if we are meeting external expectations.This process has expanded our grants to include loss of income due to caregiving, both for elder care and child care, and even the current pilot program of disaster grants for stores impacted by wide-spread or individual catastrophic events such as hurricanes, fires and floods.
A few words come to mind that describe the past five years including our mantra of being nimble & responsive, continually improving awareness, building partnerships and expanding how Binc can help booksellers.
Q) You’ve had several very successful campaigns with publishers like The New Press, AdventureKeen, and Catapult. What role/responsibility do you believe publishers have in giving back to the indie bookstore space/market?
A) Building our relationship with publishers became a focus in late 2016 to help achieve our long-term strategic plan. Becoming a sustaining organization is imperative for continued support to booksellers. The support and advocacy from the entire industry is needed. Thanks to Ingram for embracing our mission early on and for helping to expand awareness with their clients The New Press, AdventureKEEN and Catapult.
Q) Binc not only stepped up to help booksellers/stores after the various natural disasters of 2017, but also continued to support those who suffered from other challenges. How did the team decide where to fund the needs?
A) One of our strengths is our operational and governance process for managing grant requests. Since our process is well-established it was a matter of scale to incorporate the increase of requests. With the outpouring of support, both past and present, from the people and businesses in our industry along with the Legacy Funds from the Borders Group Foundation we were able to expand our annual budget for granting assistance to all who presented a need. This is a unique position for a nonprofit, but it fits our mission to help booksellers in need. Binc helped every bookseller who needed help.
Q) This past year, how did the team decide whether to provide assistance to individual booksellers or bookstores?
A)The way our programs are managed allowed the Foundation to do both. Our core program will always be to help individual employees, we are fortunate not to have to make a choice. This is in very large part due to the funding support that came from across the industry. Just over $58,000 was generously donated to Binc to help those impacted by this past fall’s succession of natural disasters. As bookstore employees and book stores needed help the whole industry stepped up to ensure help was readily available.
Q) What has the most rewarding feedback you’ve received from a bookseller this year?
A) This young bookseller was diagnosed with a life threatening illness in June. Binc was able to help pay monthly bills during her extended recovery so that she could focus on healing. Now this bookseller is doing well. One of the most memorable calls I’ve ever received. I picked up the phone to hear the excited exclamation of “I’m on the schedule! I’m back on the schedule!” After congratulating this person, I asked who it was and was overjoyed to find out it was the very bookseller who had been so sick, but had recovered to the point of being “back on the schedule.” Some of my very favorite words I’ve ever heard.
Q) How is your team shifting your approach and strategies for 2018? What are your goals for this upcoming year?
A) Since we are a small (yet mighty!) team we must continually ensure our work links us to our mission of helping booksellers. So, we’re looking for continual improvement of processes, questioning how we get things done and evaluating if there are more efficient ways to achieve our goals. We also have an active/working board and committees that participate in building and assessing our strategy.
Q) How do you measure success at Binc?
It will sound corny, but one bookseller and one donor at a time. We constantly ask if what we are doing is helping to strengthen the bookselling community. To support our strategic plan we need to continue to make strides towards achieving financial sustainability, expanding industry-wide advocacy and improving and expanding our programs.
Another question we ask is are we enjoying each day? We laugh quite a lot, both at ourselves and with each other.
Share the Good
Join Binc this month as they #ShareThe Good around the country. Your donation in April will help sustain booksellers saftey net!
For more information about Binc please visit their website: www.bincfoundation.org