To strengthen the bookselling community through charitable programs that support employees and their families.
In 1996, employees and executives of Borders Group, Inc. have a vision: to start a nonprofit foundation with the purpose of helping employees in need. This begins a process to establish a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to assisting employees who experienced a short-term financial hardship. The Foundation’s mission statement spells out these goals:
“To strengthen the Borders Group family through programs that support employees and their communities.”
The Foundation begins with more than $100,000 in funds from Borders executives and is further funded by employee contributions that are matched at 50 cents per dollar by Borders Group. Publishers and vendors add their support with monetary and merchandise donations. The Foundation develops quickly, and by its 15-year anniversary, more than $5 million in grants, scholarships and assistance is granted to Borders employees in need.
Borders Group Foundation Milestones:
1996: The Borders Group Foundation is established. With Tom Borders, one of the original founders of the Company, seated as honorary chairman, Borders Group, Inc. President George Mrkonic serving as chairman and a host of dedicated directors and volunteers. The Foundation’s first grant of $323 is given to a single mother struggling to pay her bills.
1997: Grant awards increase more than 2500% in just one year. In 1997, 127 grant requests are received, with $89,167 distributed to employees in need.
1998: An annual golf outing is introduced as the signature fundraising event with participation from employees and vendors.
1999: Christina Warren, a longtime Borders store manager, leaves her post to assume management of the Foundation. The Foundation begins to grow in professional scope, drawing on volunteers from all over Borders Group’s various departments.
2001: For the first time, the Borders Group Foundation is able to offer help to employees in the wake of a major disaster, supplying assistance to employees affected by the September 11th attacks. Grant requests spike to a high of 331 and annual funds distributed also increase, topping $250,000 for the first time.
2002: Total grant assistance to employees passes the one million dollar mark! Borders Group Foundation begins offering merit-based college scholarships and the program is an immediate success. Employees and dependents working towards undergraduate, graduate, technical and vocational degrees are eligible to apply.
2003: Thom Bales takes over as manager of the Borders Foundation and uses his experience in community relations to build visibility for the Foundation.
2004: The Foundation institutes a Bereavement Program, delivering food baskets to the homes of those affected by the loss of an immediate family member. Meanwhile, total grantees increase to 271, and 35 scholarships are awarded, both numbers setting new Foundation records. Fundraising efforts expand and over $400,000 in employee donations are collected. In addition, $170,000 is raised at the Foundation’s annual golf outing.
2005: Over $100,000 in grants are made to 43 employees and their families specifically to assist with recovery from Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. The Military Outreach program is added, helping connect soldiers and their families by sending phone cards and care packages to employee’s family members serving overseas.
2007: Total grants awarded since the Foundation’s inception pass $2.5 million, and the scholarship program surpasses $500,000 in awards. The Foundation’s four programs are now all highly successful multi-year programs. They include: Financial Assistance, the Scholarship program, Bereavement Outreach and Military Outreach.
2008: The Foundation board hires Laurel Capobianco as the new executive director.
2009: Pamela French joins the Foundation as the executive director, bringing leadership, training and development, and communication experience from Waldenbooks and Borders. After a one-year hiatus the golf outing returns as the largest fundraising event of the year.
2010: Financial assistance grants reach $3.3 million and total scholarship awards exceed $1 million. The annual golf outing is a huge success bringing in over $117,000 thanks to the generosity and support of publishers and business partners.
2011: The Foundation exceeds $5 million in total program assistance. Borders Group, Inc. enters bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the company did not exit bankruptcy and plans were put into place to liquidate the company. The future of the Foundation, as an independent entity serving Borders employees and primarily funded by Borders and its employees, is at a crossroads.
A New Beginning as the Book Industry Charitable Foundation
In 2011, the Borders Group Foundation board of directors makes the decision to dedicate themselves to the cause of continuing the mission which they began. The Borders Group Foundation is rechristened the ‘Book Industry Charitable Foundation’, or Binc Foundation, and the organization now seeks to strengthen the entire bookselling industry through charitable programs that provide short-term emergency financial support to book industry employees and their families.
As the next chapter begins for the Binc Foundation, the future abounds with opportunities. The Foundation is seeking partnerships with others in the book industry, working on new models for fundraising, and most importantly finding new opportunities to make booksellers nation-wide aware that help is available.
Also in 2011, the Foundation exceeds $5 million in total program assistance. The Foundation launches its first website and social media sites. In November, the Foundation offices move to their present location.
2012: The Foundation’s expanded mission and name change is recognized by the IRS and the State of Michigan. The Foundation is awarded the GuideStar Exchange Seal as recognition of its commitment to transparency.
2013: The Foundation adds utility shut-off prevention as a new qualifying event for bookseller assistance. Binc helps veteran bookseller Clarey Rudd eliminate over $100,000 of medical debt due to serious medical expenses. He, and his family, are able to keep their bookstores and stay in business.
2014: The Foundation expands its program offering to include homelessness prevention, funeral expenses, and loss of household income due to emergency child or elder care. A matching grants program is also introduced allowing Binc to help booksellers with financial hardships that are outside the core areas of assistance. The Scholarship program is expanded to offer almost $200,000 in awards for qualifying booksellers and their dependents.