Writing our Next Chapter: POP Project’s 2017 in Review and 2018 Preview

In 2017, the POP Project wrapped up our eighth chapter (e.g. year in existence) as an Asheville-based volunteer nonprofit. POP sorted, packed, and delivered thousands of books to dozens of area organizations. We also held a number of volunteer opportunities, coordinated local activities to promote literacy, and participated in several strategic community collaborations. The year took us in some exciting new directions, and we’re eager to see how the story plays out in 2018.

Like any great story, the 2017 chapter of the POP Project was composed of certain key elements, which we have reviewed for you, below. Keep reading for:

  • THE CHARACTERS:  Our thanks to you for a successful 2017
  • THE SETTING:  POP’s 2017 goals
  • THE PLOT:  Our best moments of 2017
  • THE CONFLICT:  Annual funding sources and holiday fundraising results
  • THE RESOLUTION:  Our book delivery programs and results
  • THE NEXT CHAPTER…:  POP’s goals for 2018 and how you can help

Writing our Next Chapter: POP Project’s 2017 in Review and 2018 Preview


First and foremost, the POP Project would like to acknowledge YOU for a page-turning 2017!

Thank you to our supporters, donors, volunteers, social media followers, book donors, and amazing Board of Directors for all your help last year. We collected and sorted through thousands of books to determine their best homes. We made a record number of book deliveries to dozens of locations in our community. And most importantly, we made a difference in the lives of thousands of local men, women, and children in Asheville, Buncombe County, and across Western North Carolina.

We couldn’t have done anything in 2017 without your help, support, and belief in the power of a good book. Here’s to an even bigger and better year of giving in 2018!

THE SETTING: POP’s 2017 Goals

As we kicked off 2017, POP had five goals for the year ahead. These goals set the scene for our work during the year:

  • Better expand into surrounding counties in WNC.
  • Hold our annual “Rethink Ink” book sale fundraiser.
  • Increase the number of books we donate.
  • More programming for Banned Books Week 2017.
  • Add additional drop box locations around Asheville.

THE PLOT: POP’s 7 Best Moments of 2017

  • Opening a New Storage Space in Woodfin: POP hosted the first volunteer group at our new storage space in January 2017. Thanks to the new space, we were able to move out of two of our three West Asheville storage units. That allowed us to redirect those funds to our book delivery and little library programs. We still plan to slowly move books from the remaining storage unit until we reach full capacity in our indoor space.
  • Presenting a 13-Story Little Free Library: In April, the POP Project presented a very special, custom Little Free Library to Hall Fletcher Elementary. Constructed by local wood artist Brian Monteleone of Artful Pallet, the box was inspired by the 13-Story Treehouse series from internationally famous author Andy Griffiths. Griffiths helped unveil the LFL at a special event at Spellbound Children’s Bookshop.
  • Coordinating 2 Stellar Days of Impact Deliveries: Over two afternoons in April and October, groups of corporate volunteers helped POP sort, count, pack, and deliver more than $11,500 of books to agencies around Asheville and Buncombe County—all in a matter of hours. That’s 33% of our annual total deliveries!
  • Adding 2 More Little Free Libraries: POP was excited to add two more official Little Free Libraries to the Buncombe County community in 2017. Students from Green Opportunities’ GO Build Program built a library installed at Verner Early Learning Center. The second was the one installed at Hall Fletcher mentioned above. We have an additional two more GO-built libraries ready to be placed in their new homes early this year—stay tuned!
  • Installing Bookshelves in Area Schools: POP’s youth book delivery manager worked hard this year to make sure that children across Buncombe County have books to read and take home. Jeanne Cumby established free bookshelves in several school libraries or media centers. And special donor Sam built and delivered a shelf to Hall Fletcher Elementary in support of this new initiative!
  • Hitting a New Delivery Milestone: Since POP was founded in 2009, it has been our mission to provide books to men, women, and children in need—because everyone deserves a good book. Around our eighth birthday in November, POP officially passed the $200,000 mark in book deliveries. That’s a remarkable accomplishment for an organization built solely upon volunteer efforts and community support!
  • Crushing the Give!Local Online Fundraiser: POP was one of 37 nonprofits selected for the third annual Mountain Xpress online fundraising program. Thanks to tremendous support, POP raised $1,700 over 60 days—almost as much as the last two years combined!

THE CONFLICT: POP’s 2017 Finances and Fundraising Results

As with any nonprofit, finances are the main (and constant) source of anxiety. POP was very fortunate to begin the year with a surplus of funds. But could we meet our 2017 fundraising goals?

Spoiler alert: We crushed it!

POP’s holiday fundraising goal was $1,500, half our budget for 2018. Once again, POP participated in Give!Local, the annual Mountain Xpress online fundraising program. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, POP raised $1,700 through Give!Local! An additional $140 was given by two generous donors through our other digital and offline channels.


Our goal was to start the year with half of our 2018 budget in the bank. We are so thrilled not only to meet that goal, but to have a head start in our remaining fundraising efforts for this year. In the end, here is how our income and expenses leveled out in 2017:


Amazon Book Sales (3.1%)

Private Donations/Give!Local (82.8%)

Non-Program Specific Grants (0%)

Fundraisers and Book Sales (13.9%)

Interest (0.1%)


Storage Units (70.7%)

General Administrative Costs (29.3%)

Shipping and Travel (0%)

THE RESOLUTION: POP’s Book Delivery Program Grows in Scope!

2017 was another big year for book deliveries by the POP Project—but not quite in the way we planned. POP beat our 2016 numbers by sorting, packing, and delivering a significant number of books to local area schools, children’s programs, housing and healthcare centers, food pantries, Little Free Libraries, and detention centers to serve the people most in need of a greater access to books.

Our goal was to meet and exceed our 2015 book deliveries to successfully give more than $40,000 in books. We were once again not able to meet that goal. However, in 2017, we did expand our Little Free Library program and begin a new bookshelf initiative at area schools. In the end, those changes brought an increase in breadth and scope to our delivery program that we plan to continue through 2018.

Our 2017 deliveries totalled 7,009 books, and had a value of $35,045. Compared to 2016, we increased our number of deliveries by 40% to 101 and the number of locations to which we delivered by 29% to 40.

Here’s a breakdown of the number and type of books delivered for 2017 as compared to the previous two years:


2015 2016 2017
Schools and Children’s Programs 3,103 2,921 3,446
Community Nonprofits, Housing Centers, and Organizations in WNC 3,058 2,663 2,406
State Prisons; Local Jails and Detention Centers 937 774 498
Little Libraries 197 396 533
Other 251 75 126


2017 Book Delivery Locations

A-B Tech Community College

A-HOPE Day Center

Buncombe County Detention Facility

Cane River Middle School

Charles George VA Medical Center

Children First

Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Inc.

Craggie Correctional Facility

Deaverview Apartments

Department of Social Services (DSS)

Dunkin Donuts Enka/Candler Free Library

Eblen Intermediate School

Emma Elementary School

Erwin Elementary School

Erwin Middle School

Fairview Elementary School

Food for Fairview

Four Seasons Hospice Home Store

Goodwill Industries

Green Opportunities

Hall Fletcher Elementary

Haywood Street Congregation


Hominy Valley Community Market

Irene Wortham Center

JFK Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center

Journey Home East

Leicester Elementary School

Literacy Council of Buncombe County

Lord’s Acre

Marshall Middle School

Mother Love

NC Department of Public Safety

Neil Dobbins Rehab Center

Read to Succeed (R2S)

United Way – Homework Diners

Verner Early Learning Center

Veterans Restoration Quarters

YMCA / Youth Services Center


Writing our Next Chapter in 2018—and How You can Help

POP made a significant impact to our community during 2017, but we still have a long way to go before everyone in WNC has sufficient access to books. We want to keep expanding our donation base, programs, and volunteer opportunities for the coming year, and we need help doing it.

Here are just a few of our goals for 2018, along with ways you can help us meet them:

Better expand into surrounding counties in WNC:

GOAL: Whereas in years past, POP has made greater giving our main goal, this year we plan to focus on expanding our footprint. In 2018, it is our goal to hold our deliveries steady at 7,000 books, but make at least 10% of our book deliveries (or 700 books) to organizations in Henderson, Madison, Haywood, and Transylvania Counties.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Do you know of any shelters, development centers, detention centers, food pantries, or healthcare facilities in these counties that could benefit from a few good books? Let us know how we can help.

Hold our annual “Rethink Ink” book sale fundraiser:

GOAL: POP accepts almost all kinds of books, and so we have collected many that we currently cannot find homes for. Our “Rethink Ink” fundraiser encourages people to keep paper books alive during the digital revolution, while also serving as one of our largest fundraising events of the year. We skipped our book sale in 2017, but we plan to hold a “Rethink Ink” sale for 2018.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Can you suggest public, accessible locations that would be good spots for our 2018 “Rethink Ink”?

More programming for Banned Books Week 2018:

GOAL: Banned Books Week is a national week devoted to showcasing the power of the printed word. We love developing programming around Banned Books Week, but it’s not always feasible for our volunteers. In 2018, we want to host a great community program around Banned Books Week by creating events and partnering with local organizations who work to ensure that banning books becomes an idea of the past.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Help POP bring Banned Books Week to life in Asheville. Contact us about organizing an event or participating as a local business.

Add additional drop box locations around Asheville:

GOAL: Our sincerest thanks to the Literacy Council, Spellbound Children’s Bookshop, and Mountain Xpress for their continued support of the POP Project by hosting drop boxes in north and central Asheville, where book donors can come to drop off a handful of books at a time. In 2018, POP would like to make drop boxes available to people on all sides of town.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Contact us if your business or organization in south, east, or west Asheville is interested in hosting a drop box.

Additional Ways to Help in 2018

The POP Project works to make sure no book goes without a home, goes unread, sits on a shelf and collects dust, and that all of the books with which we are entrusted are used for constructive, personal expansion.

In addition to the goals listed above, there are many more ways to ensure that POP continues to make a positive impact on our community in 2018. Please consider donating time, money, or ideas that will directly impact our programs.


Donations can be made via PayPal on our site or mailed to the POP Project, PO Box 18653, Asheville, NC 28814. The POP Project is a 501(c)3 organization. Please consult your tax advisor about deductible donations.