Get involved with our small but mighty group—and help us send more books (and even better books!) to more incarcerated women, as well as trans/non-binary people. You can donate money or books, volunteer, host a book drive and more:

  • Donate books: We send a great variety of books every week and there are books we just can’t keep on the shelves. Our main restriction is that we only send paperback books to prisons. Also check our online wish list at Women & Children First. (Please ask for a tax donation receipt if you’d like one.)
  • Donate money: This enables our all-volunteer organization to keep pace with our biggest expense—about $1,400 a month in postage. A donation of $10 will send three packages of books to women in prison. A donation of $200 will pay our rent for a month. It’s easy to donate through PayPal using the button at the right of this page. Or please send a check or money order to: Chicago Books to Women in Prison c/o RFUMC, 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640. We also appreciate gift cards from Barnes & Noble, Office Depot, Staples or the like. These enable us to buy books and mailing supplies. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and our EIN is 45-5271700. All or part of your gift may be tax-deductible as a charitable contribution. Please check with your tax adviser.

    Do you work for an organization with an employer-matching program or something similar?
    We are happy to provide whatever documentation may be required. Not sure if this is an option? Please check. You may find that your donation can be multiplied and go even further.
  • Host a book drive or fundraiser. If you’re interested in helping in this way, just email us at We’d love to work with you on what you have in mind for your workplace, school, neighborhood or even a party with friends and family.We can provide materials you can use to promote the event, as well as help you promote the book drive or fundraiser on our social media channels (if it’s a public event).
  • Volunteer: New volunteer orientations are suspended temporarily while we make adjustments to our operation in light of new safety concerns. Every week we meet on Saturday and Sunday afternoon to match requests with books from our large inventory and prepare packages for mailing. New volunteers, sign up in advance for one of our monthly orientations (alternating Saturdays and Sundays) from 1 to 2 pm, right before our usual hours from 2 to 5, which you’ll want to plan on attending as well. You’ll meet with one of our experienced volunteers to learn about the group’s mission, the needs of the people we serve, and our process. Once you’ve been trained, you are invited to volunteer whenever you’d like. There is a long waiting list as as we’ve received many inquiries. 
    Our main activities each week are reviewing letters from women and trans people in prison and selecting books that match the requests—this is the heart of the orientation, along with an overview of our organization and of the particular needs of the people we serve.Each session there are also other related tasks, including sorting and shelving new donations, packaging books for mailing, and weighing packages and applying postage. In the sessions you attend following orientation, please expect to be trained on tasks like these and to work on them instead of or in addition to letter fulfillment some days you volunteer.

    In addition, there are occasional projects such as research, writing and editing, organizing events, tabling at community events, and fundraising initiatives. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about helping in these ways.

    Want to know more? Please email us at and note “Volunteer Training” in the subject line. Tell us how you learned about us and why you want to volunteer with us. If you have any related experience, please tell us about it.

  • Solicit books from publishers and authors. This can be an excellent way to get much needed books on our shelves. It’s not necessarily easy, though, as you may have to deal with rejection, no response at all, and getting referred from person to person. But many people have been successful at this and they’ve found it very satisfying. Please email us before you contact authors or publishers on our behalf. We’d be happy to provide guidance as to what we need, tips for a successful solicitation, and content for an email or letter. Are you an author or publisher with books that may fit our needs? Please email us before sending books to confirm that we can use them and in the quantity you’d like to send.

Do you have questions, ideas, resource material or opportunities to share? Please get in touch!


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