Our finances

At Book Aid International all the income we receive is from voluntary donations – we receive no government grants.

We are supported by thousands of individuals, companies and trusts who donate the funds that we need to reach readers around the world.

Below is a summary of our 2020 income and expenditure. You can view our full audited 2020 accounts in our 2020 Annual Report.

Cash income and expenditure

In 2020 our total income was £14,807,452, of which £1,957,351 was cash income and £12,850,101 was the value of books donated to us by UK publishers. Our 2020 cash income of £1,957,351 was £322,907 below 2019’s income of £2,280,258. Of cash income in 2020, £1,194,063 was unrestricted income which funded our work providing books around the world. Unrestricted income fell compared to 2019, when we raised £1,323,434, primarily because of reduced community fundraising activity during 2020 as a result of the pandemic.

Our total expenditure was £12,969,224, of which £1,902,852 was cash expenditure and £11,066,372 was the value of the books we provided around the world. Cash expenditure in 2020 was substantially lower than the 2019 figure of £2,204,100. This reduction was related to the two month closure of our warehouse, termination of our evening shift, delays to projects that could not go forward because of the pandemic and reduced travel costs due to lockdowns.


In response to the pandemic and its likely impact the Finance and Audit Committee (FAC) conducted an exercise to arrive at an opinion on the funds of the organisation up to and beyond the end of 2022. Based on the information supplied and the modelling performed, the FAC reported to the Board of Trustees that in its opinion the organisation was sufficiently resourced to operate on a going concern basis.

The value of donated books

In 2020 the value of books donated by publishers to our charity decreased by 31% from £18,558,955 in 2019 to £12,850,101. This reflects the impacts of the pandemic. We expect to receive a more normal number of books again in 2021 and we acknowledge that fluctuations in the value of the books we receive will continue in the coming years as the books publishers donate change year on year. However, these fluctuations are not impacting cash income and expenditure, which remain largely stable.

How we value the books we send

The books we send to our library partners are donated to us by publishers and the value of these books is reflected in our accounts. We value our books based on Neilsen Bookscan prices and we apply an overall 30% discount from the full Recommended Retail Price (RRP) to allow for the estimated market discount for 3rd party commercial buyers.

How we control our costs

Our costs are closely managed by our Board of Trustees, to whom we submit financial reports every quarter. We also have two Board committees who take responsibility for our finances.  The Finance and Audit Committee is responsible for ensuring our finances are legally compliant and in line with the policies set by the Board. The Remuneration Committee is responsible for salary setting and other HR matters. You can find out more about our Board of Trustees and how it governs our activities here.

We aim to be as financially efficient as possible in all our activities. We have no overseas offices and we work through partnerships to deliver our work. We have a committed team of volunteers whose contribution we estimate as equivalent to two full-time members of staff.

Our Reserves Policy

We maintain cash reserves to ensure that we can deliver our planned commitments in the event of unforeseen financial challenges. The minimum level of reserves we must hold are agreed by our Board of Trustees and monitored regularly. In 2020 the agreed level was £500,000 – £550,000.

We ended 2020 with £677,146 in free reserves – higher than anticipated as some activity that had been planned for 2020 could not go forward due to the pandemic and has been deferred.

Our supporter promise

We couldn’t do the work we do without the support of all our generous donors. We appreciate their support and we promise to use their money responsibly and in accordance with our charitable objectives. That is why we have published our Supporter Promise.