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If you’re like a lot of college students, you probably have a lot of places you’d like to go over your summer or winter vacation. Hey, I’ve been there – and I know how rising textbook prices, increasing tuition rates, and other unexpected expenses can put a big dent in your vacation fund. Fortunately, there’s an easy strategy I’ve personally used to fund my vacations – and as luck would have it, it’s something I cover in great detail on this blog! If you’ve read How Sell Books Fast Helps You Make Extra Money, you already know the basics of what I teach on this blog – basically I reveal how to find low-priced books in thrift stores, library bookshops, and garage sales and discover which of these books can be sold for a profit online via a free website called Bookscouter that shows you the best places to sell books online. You can then sell these books online quickly to buyback companies that will send you a check or PayPal payment for your books – often in as little as two weeks.
This is a fast, easy method that can quickly generate a steady stream of income for anyone – working mothers, retirees, self-employed entrepreneurs – but is particularly effective for college students who need to raise money quickly. An in-demand textbook can easily be sold for well over $100 online – more if you’re talking about a textbook in a specialized field like medicine or law. That’s why college students are in a particularly good spot at the end of their fall or spring semester – you already have a stack of textbooks that can potentially sell for profitable prices and don’t have to go out looking for them like online booksellers.
After a couple years – sometimes even a few months – some of the textbooks you may have spent hundreds of dollars on will drop dramatically in value as college students flood online markets like Amazon with their textbooks, offering increasingly lower prices in an attempt to get rid of their books. Plus, the buyback companies on Bookscouter will pay you cash for your books immediately (often in two weeks or less) – there’s no need to wait for someone to buy your book on Amazon. Selling books online using Bookscouter is simple – all you need to do is enter the ISBN (the 10 or 13 digit number code located usually above the textbook’s barcode or on the publication information page) in the search bar. Bookscouter will then bring up a list of buyback companies, along with the amount of money they will pay for your book.
If you’d like to learn how to do a more detailed price comparison on Bookscouter (and potentially make even more extra cash) read my article How to Find the Best Books to Sell on Bookscouter with a Free Bookscouter Account. Please note that you won’t be selling your books to Bookscouter but to the buyback companies you find on its website. I cover this subject in depth in my article Is the Book Condition of Your Textbook Good Enough to Make Extra Money?
To summarize – every buyback company has its own guidelines for the books it will or will not accept, and you should make sure to review these guidelines before you sell to a buyback company.
Other buyback companies – like Powells or Sell Back Your Book – want books with no markings, which may limit the number of books you can send to them.
As a rule, buyback companies will never purchase books with water damage, broken bindings, or missing supplementary materials (CDs, DVDs, computer codes etc.) so if your textbooks have these flaws, you won’t be paid.
In general, most of the buyback companies you’ll find on Bookscouter are reputable companies that will pay you for your books – but you do want to do some research.
Bookscouter offers a rating system where past sellers can share their experiences with individual buyback companies and even grade these companies on a five-star scale.
I offer more in-depth reviews of these buyback companies (and others) at 8 Great Book Buyback Companies to Sell Books To and 2 More Great Book Buyback Companies to Sell Books To, so feel free to read the articles in my blog to find a good buyback company to sell to. Here are some auction donation ideas you may not have thought of, courtesy of Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions. If you’ve been directed to plan a gala that includes an auction, but you’re coming up short in the acquisitions area, here are some ideas. But because of the greater risk involved to the consignor (remember, his commission is in your hands), some only offer these packages through a professional auctioneer.
You know you’ll get a higher response on your solicitation letters if you address the letter to a real person versus “To Whom It May Concern,” but tracking down the correct person, title and address can consume hours. Advantage: Your time will be spent crafting a compelling letter instead of updating an outdated procurement database. Disadvantage: You must allow enough lead time to prepare a solid letter, mail the letters, and give the donating company time to respond.

Once reserved for bridal registries and Christmas lists, Amazon Wish List is now used by nonprofits seeking in-kind donations. Advantage: From the convenience of your own computer, you can procure donations nationally. Geronimo foresees a time when your guests could select from among hundreds of discounted vacation properties while attending your gala. Currently the company offers 20 high-end vacation homes ($5,000 to $15,000) in a traditional flat fee consignment offering. Advantage: Vacations are a popular auction item and a variety of reasonably priced rentals ensures all your guests can participate.
A business owner in San Diego grew tired of filling in all those donation forms for different auctions.
Disadvantage: The database is still in its infancy and heavily focused on the San Diego market. Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar, CMP, BAS, teaches planners of fundraising auctions how to maximize revenues for greater success with their nonprofits or school galas.
Donation Request Letter For Silent Auction Items – This is a sample donation request letter to use for getting more items donated to your cause. 500 Silent Auction Basket Ideas – If you are looking for some silent auction basket ideas, here are 500 ideas for basket themes and fun names for your auction baskets. Silent Auction Ideas: Vacation Rentals – Looking for silent auction ideas that will add to your bottom line without any upfront cost? 10 Silent Auction Ideas For Extra Profits – Here are 10 extra profit ideas that are guaranteed to help you raise more money with your next auction. These are the books professional online booksellers (like me) always look for when we search through thrift stores and garage sales for books to resell online for a profit.
I’ve personally sold textbooks that gave me a net profit of over $300, and I know there are much more profitable textbooks out there. New editions come out, classes stop including books on their reading lists, and your college bookstore won’t pay you even half of what you paid for your textbook in the first place. Because Bookscouter offers cash bids from dozens of different buyback companies, college students now have multiple places to sell their textbooks for cash before they depreciate. Most buyback companies will even pay for shipping costs, allowing you to keep more money in your pocket.
You can then visit the website of the buyback company you want to sell to and sell your books to them directly. Sometimes, the best ideas for auction donations come from thinking outside the box about new or unusual sources. Sherry is an auction consultant and a professional charity auctioneer, so she knows what she’s talking about. If the handbag sells for $230, your organization makes $80, the spread between $230 and $150. This means that when the item sells, 50% of the sale price pays the consignor and 50% stays with your charity. The consignor seeks the assurance that a professional is overseeing the sale, making it less likely that the package will be sold for a bottom dollar price. Often consignors who deal in smaller items like jewelry and paintings will personally work at your event, thereby freeing up your volunteers for other tasks. Also, be sure to check a consignor’s references to ensure he has always delivered on what was promised. When you rent, the company that owns the database is responsible for keeping contact information current. If your guests love spa packages, use the database to mail letters to 500 international spas.

It’s also likely that the items you secure will be of higher quality than what you could have achieved using personal connections. You can add items to your Wish List from any Web site, making it easy to track everything in one place.
This tool might be perfect for those individuals who are happy to give, but have had no luck procuring donations on their own.
And since you will be selecting the items, you never need to worry whether something will be appropriate for your auction.
Many of these forms require similar information, so keep a spreadsheet handy with your organization’s particulars (e.g. Applying for, tracking and following up with each company is an exercise in organization and persistence. A few years ago, individuals bought pricey memberships to vacation clubs that allowed them to reserve discounted homes for their family vacations. The Web site is new this year, but could offer an interesting option for your auction, especially in coming months.
The homes are lovely, but the steep base price means they aren’t appropriate for most charity auctions. There may soon come a time when during the span of your event (or after, using a private label Web site), you can offer guests economical vacations with your charity receiving a hefty portion of that rental income. Once Geronimo’s service is firm, your charity could raise thousands without ever sending a procurement letter.
She decided that if she was frustrated with the inkind donation process, others must be as well.
The article also has tips on what else to write that will motivate the recipient to react favorably to your request. Offering vacation rentals at your silent auction will add thousands of dollars in extra profits with very little work on your part. Great way to raise more money with your silent auction because they handle everything A to Z, plus you only pay for it after it sells and owe nothing if it doesn’t draw enough interested bidders.
There’s an art to doing silent auctions in a way that maximizes the amount raised, with many of these ideas being almost the direct opposite to the approach most groups are using. The consignor offers you items with the expectation that each package will sell for more than what you paid. You craft your letters, the owner of the database mails them, and you wait for donated items to arrive.
Finally, because the items are 100% donated, when you sell an item for $700, all $700 remains with the charity.
The premise is that homeowners register their properties (usually a second or third home) on open dates, offering a discount of at least 20%. Businesses like the standardized online form, which makes it easy to submit and track in-kind donations for auctions, raffles and gift bags. Or maybe your group isn’t the “premier” organization in town and you’re struggling to secure better donations.
One consignor I know runs a brisk business selling female-friendly items like costume jewelry, furs and handbags. Most of the homes are set up to go to the renter’s preferred charity, not the homeowner’s preferred charity. Style, TLC), and conferences (CMP Conclave, National Auctioneers Association Convention, regional MPI groups).

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