Non-profit models for bookstores

Host:  Donna Paz Kaufman


Sara from Charis (Atlanta) and Ryan (Open Book in Chicago) shared their structures, how they evolved and how they work best.

Charis has several entities: a for-profit bookstore and two no-profit initiatives. What general booksellers consider author events are considered programs.

Open Book is 100% non-profit. Bookstore revenues help fulfill the mission.

Sources of funds:

Private donors: monthly, one-time, founders

Family trusts – often have fewer strings attached, can be used for overhead and staff

Local grants

Government grants – the most time-consuming and tedious


  1. Find Your Niche – Know what kinds of programs and outreach you want to do. Put this in place beforehand so you know where to look for funding.
  2. Create Relationships – A year or two before you form a non-profit, meet with officers to share your work and understand the initiatives they are interested in supporting.

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