Picture this: You walk into your garage and see heaps of old, unused items. Your house is cluttered up with items like these and you want to get rid of them by hook or crook. What would be your first solution to this problem? You will probably want to toss these items into the trash. However, have you considered donating? You would be surprised to know that about 89% of Americans donate things (and money) to religious institutions and charities.
With the landfills getting rapidly filled up due to mindless tossing of things into it, it is on you to decide what you want to do with stuff still in good working condition. Donating stuff will not only save the environment from harm, but will also help someone less fortunate than yourself. In addition to this, donating stuff can save you a lot of money that gets spent on junk removal. Wondering how to get started with a donation? Let us help you out!
What Items Should You Donate?
You might realize that there are a lot of items in your home that you don’t use on a daily basis. This could include things like furniture pieces, clothes, books, appliances, toys, etc. Some of them might have been gently used while some may not be in good working condition. One thing you should know about donations is that every charity accepts a particular category of items. Similarly, remember that a charity isn’t a trash center. They will not accept items that cannot be reused.
So how do you decide what items should be retained, donated, or put into the trash? You must ask yourselves a lot of questions before you decide whether a particular object is fit for donation. Let us simplify this decision-making process for you by demonstrating an example.
- Consider that you are dealing with a sweater. Firstly, ask yourself whether you have used the sweater in the last year. If yes, how regularly was it used? If your answer is no, ask yourself why haven’t you been using it?
- Now, if you realize that you have used the sweater a couple of times in the last year, ask yourself whether you own other sweaters that will suffice your needs. If you do own other sweaters, you can consider donating this sweater to someone in need while you declutter your house.
- However, say the sweater was hand-made by someone you knew, for instance, your grandma, you might then want to retain it for the sentimental value attached to it.
- If you haven’t used the sweater even once in the last year, ask yourself why haven’t you been using it? Is it because all the fibers have come out and the sweater has shrunk? Or is it because you own similar clothing items and you no longer need it?
- If you no longer need the sweater, examine whether it is in a good condition. If the sweater is in perfect condition, put it on your donation list.
- If the sweater isn’t in a good condition, see whether you can do anything to get it fixed. If it does get fixed, you can still consider donating it.
- If the sweater is ruined to a point where it cannot be restored to a good working condition, put it into the trash so that it can be sent to a recycling center.
Where is the Best Place to Donate Used Items?
When you have certain items that you can donate, always ask around in your local community and find out whether any places are looking out for donations. In this way, you can help out the organizations that require urgent help. Let us look at different kinds of places that will benefit from your donations:
1. Religious Institutions like Churches and Temples:
Religious institutions are often on the lookout for donors as they run several programs that help the less fortunate members of the community. Enquire whether any particular families need help or whether you can donate your stuff for a fundraising program.
2. Charities, Homeless Shelters, Women’s Shelters, and Youth Centres:
Organizations that fall under these categories directly deal with those who are in need. You can research different organizations present in your local area that will accept your donations.
3. Arts or Theatre Centres:
These places generally need common household stuff in their productions. You can help them out a lot if you donate your stuff to these centers.
4. Schools or Vocational Colleges:
Items like cars, appliances, or electronics can be donated to schools or vocational colleges so that they can be used to help the students to learn through practical demonstrations.
How do you Donate your Items?
Donating items is fairly simple. We agree that packing your stuff up and making sure that it reaches the right places might seem like a tedious task. However, we promise you that if you plan out the process well, your job will be done in the wink of an eye.
Step 1: Sorting out your Items
When you are decluttering your house, you will most probably be confused about whether a certain item should be retained, put into the trash, or donated. Make sure that you dedicate enough time to sort out your stuff so that you send all the appropriate items for donation.
Step 2: Pack the Stuff for Donation
Make sure that the stuff you are going to donate is packed properly. For this, you first need to sort your stuff into categories. You could place items into different categories like clothes, books, tools, electronics, etc. You should do this because you might have to send different items to different organizations. For instance, a women’s shelter might need some clothing items urgently. On the other hand, an orphanage might need some books and toys.
Note: Disinfecting and sanitizing the objects that you plan to donate is a must in these COVID times. This ensures that the people who get the donated objects are safe from the virus.
Step 3: Research on Local Organizations
You could ask around in your local community or go online to check what organizations are accepting donations and what kind of items do they need urgently. Websites like Donation Town will let you know about the organizations that are accepting donations at the moment.
Step 4: Contacting the Organization:
You need to contact the organization and make sure that they will accept your items. Keep in mind that the organization won’t accept ruined items that aren’t in a good working condition. Enquire about how you would have to send your stuff. Some organizations let you schedule a free pick-up. On the contrary, some organizations might ask you to drop off your stuff at their local office.
Step 5: Donate your Items
Make sure that your items are packed and ready to go on the scheduled day if you have opted for a free pick-up. If in case you are supposed to drop off your items, make sure that you drop off your stuff within the time specified by them (you will generally have to drop off stuff during office hours). The goal here is to not cause them any inconvenience. That’s it! Your donation process is completed!
Things to Consider when you Donate your Stuff
1. Donating Money:
You can always consider selling off your stuff and donating the money that you make from it. Some charities or religious institutions will happily receive money so that it can be used for buying the necessary stuff for the less fortunate ones. You can sell your items online through auctions or websites like eBay. You can also have garage sales or yard sales in your locality.
2. Sending the Right Items to The Right Places:
Just because it is easy to send all your stuff to one organization, don’t force them to take all your stuff. Different organizations function for the benefit of different kinds of people who might have different needs. But if this is too much of a hassle, there exist several organizations like the Salvation Army that accept a wide variety of stuff. Find out about such organizations and send them your donations.
3. Tax Deductions
It will come as good news for you that the items donated by you are generally tax-deductible. The best way to go about this to consult a tax professional. If you want to qualify for a tax deduction, you will have to determine the value of your items first. This value can easily be determined based on the ongoing rates of that object and the condition in which it currently is. Your charitable organizations will mostly guide you through the valuation process.
Once the valuation is done, make sure that you get a donation receipt from the organization where you donated your stuff. This receipt will serve as proof of the donation made by you and can be used to apply for tax deductions when the IRS audits you.
If you end up donating money, make sure you receive a receipt that mentions the exact amount that you donate. One important thing to remember here is that the charity where you donate your things should be registered as a tax-exempted organization with the IRS. Whether a particular charity is registered with the IRS can be checked on the IRS website.
4. Don’t Cause any Inconvenience to the Organization:
A charitable organization will always be grateful to you when you donate your stuff. However, make sure you don’t cause them any inconvenience by not adhering to their donation guidelines. Under no circumstances should you donate objects that are spoilt. The things you donate should either be new, unused, or gently used.
Lastly, if the organization offers to pick up your donations for free, make sure that the items are properly packed on the scheduled day before they arrive. Do not waste their time and then eventually postpone the pickup after they arrive at your place.
What are the Best Organizations to Donate your Items?
There are so many items that you could donate. However, it is very important to find the right place for each of the items that you want to donate. Let us look at some of the best places to donate different kinds of items.
General Household Stuff:
It often happens that several things are lying around your house and you have no use for them. The following charitable organizations will make your life easier by offering to accept all that you want to donate.
1. The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army is one of the largest charitable organizations in the USA and it helps out nearly 23 million Americans each year. They are known for providing assistance to all types of people and running different kinds of programs. They run numerous homeless shelters, disaster relief programs, support programs for veterans and the LGBTQIA+ community.
They will generally accept all kinds of household items like clothes, furniture, appliances, electronics, books, etc. The organization has made several drop-off locations available for everyone across the country. You can also schedule a pick-up if you wish to donate a huge bulk of items.
Goodwill is a nonprofit that generates funds through the wide network of thrift stores that has been established by them. They will accept all sorts of household items like clothes, shoes, books, appliances, furniture, etc. The best part about them is that they will send the objects that aren’t purchased by anyone to recycling stores. This ensures that the landfills do not end up getting overfilled with recyclable stuff.
The money generated from these thrift stores is used for imparting employment training and providing job placements for the members of your community. You can simply drop off your stuff or schedule a pick-up when you want to make a donation.
FreeCycle aims to keep reusable and recyclable objects away from landfills. They realize that most of the household stuff could be recycled and reused and thus, tries to manage waste effectively. You can visit their website and list down the objects that you no longer have a use for. Here, you will also see the list of objects posted by different people in your local area. You can choose to take any items from the list you see for free. This exchange between the members of the community ensures that resources aren’t getting wasted. After all, what is considered waste by you might be useful for someone else.
4. Volunteers of America:
Volunteers of America take in all kinds of household objects. This includes things like furniture, clothes, appliances, etc., and this stuff is then sold in their thrift store. The funds raised through these thrift stores are used to provide support for at-risk youth, especially those who are homeless, disabled, returned from jail, or battling addictions.
American Veterans better known as AMVETS helps out the local veterans as well as their families by providing all sorts of assistance in terms of jobs, money, or services. They will accept clothes, furniture, appliances, electronics, and other common household items. These items are sold in thrift stores and the funds generated from there are used for the charity’s cause. If you want to donate stuff, you can visit their website and schedule a pick-up.
6. Furniture and Household Appliances Donation
There is a possibility that you might have some tables, chairs, or couches lying around in your garage. You might not have a use for them but they are certainly needed by other people.
7. Habitat for Humanity:
Are you thinking about getting rid of some really large pieces of furniture? Habitat for Humanity is the best option for you in this case. This organization runs several non-profit donation centers across the country. They will also take in other items like clothes, home accessories, etc. The best part about them is that they will provide you with free pick-ups whenever you wish to donate.
8. Furniture Banks:
They let you donate used furniture pieces that you no longer have a use for. If you have a Furniture Bank in your locality, do consider donating your furniture pieces to them as they help homeless people to get back on their feet.
9. Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA):
The Vietnam Veterans of America helps out the Vietnam war veterans by providing them with the necessary services. They accept furniture as well as other household items. This non-profit organization tries to assist homeless or poor veterans by supplying household items as well as providing financial aid. You can opt to drop off your donations at the nearest VVA center.
Clothes, Shoes, and Accessories
Unless you are into a frugal lifestyle, you certainly own a few pieces of clothing that you have never worn or have worn only a few times. Clothes can be thrifted to generate funds or can be used by those who cannot afford clothes.
1. Dress for Success:
This charitable organization functions at an international level. If you own formal or professional clothes that have been gently used, we suggest that you donate them to the nearest Dress for Success office. This organization provides women with professional clothing items and certain tools for development so that they succeed in their workplace. They will accept suits, shoes, business attire, bags, jewelry, unused cosmetics, etc.
2. One Warm Coat
Some people don’t have access to warm clothes during harsh winters. One Warm Coat conducts coat drives across the entire country so that unfortunate people can be provided with warm clothes during winter. You can search for a One Warm Coat location on their website and drop off your coats at the nearest location.
3. Planet Aid
Planet Aid stands out because it accepts all types of clothes. It doesn’t matter whether your clothes are in a good condition, Planet aid will accept them and recycle them. Planet Aid sells donated clothes in developing countries and uses the funds generated from this to help those who are suffering from poverty.
Soles4Souls accepts all kinds of footwear and clothing items. They aim to provide financial aid to those who are suffering from poverty. They do this by assisting people to start a new business of selling clothes and shoes that they receive via donations.
Electronics (like Cell Phones or Computers)
Everyone has to keep up with the advancing technologies. Electronic items, especially phones, are something that each and every person has and needs regardless of whether they’re rich or poor.
1. CellPhone for Soldiers:
This organization ensures that the people who are serving in troops and veterans benefit from their free communication services. If you own any phones or tablets that are in good working condition, drop them off at the nearest location or send them by mail.
2. National Cristina Foundation:
This non-profit assists different kinds of organizations that help individuals who are disabled, at-risk, or those who come from poor families. These organizations get assistance in the form of technology. If you have printers, computers, tablets, etc., make sure you drop them off at the nearest location.
3. Local Schools or Libraries:
You can drop off your computers or printers at the local libraries or schools. Teachers can teach students more efficiently if they have access to good devices. Contact your nearest schools and libraries to enquire whether they need any electronic devices.
Books are the building units of literacy. Unfortunately, some people do not have access to books due to unfavorable circumstances. If you have books, you must consider donating them after you are done using them.
1.Books for Africa
If you wish to donate books, you can donate them to Books for Africa via mail or by visiting the organization’s warehouses. This organization collects books from donors and ships them to a variety of libraries and schools in Africa.
2. Operation Paperback:
This organization undertakes the job of shipping books to troops that are overseas. They aim to assist the members of the military, veterans, and their families by providing them with books.
Note: Each charitable organization accepts only some types of books depending on whose needs they are catering to. Make sure you donate the right books to the right organization.
Items for Women/Children/Family Shelters
Most of these shelters generally need toys, books, clothes for children, blankets, etc., that are in good condition.
1. Project Night Night:
This organization prefers to accept new items. They provide homeless children (12 years or younger) with packages that contain one book, one stuffed toy, and a security blanket.
SAFE or Stuffed Animals For Emergencies collects items like, coloring books, crayons, books, toys, clothes and baby-items for kids who have been a victim to neglect, abuse, fires, homelessness, etc.
Instead of dumping your car in a garage or a junkyard, consider donating it to a charity that will use it to help those in need
1.America’s Car Donation Centres:
This organization lets you pick a charity where you can donate your cars. They are available in all 50 states. You simply choose a charity and call them. They will pick your car up and you can also apply for tax deductions after making this donation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What items should not be donated?
You do not want to waste the time of charitable organizations by donating stuff that is spoilt and in a bad condition. Let us look at some of the common items you shouldn’t donate:
- Clothes or linens that are ripped, stained, soiled, or damaged in any other way.
- Shoes that smell and have holes.
- Toys that are broken beyond repair.
- Torn and moldy books.
- Dirty and broken appliances like refrigerators and microwaves.
- Furniture that is in bad condition or has bugs.
- Electronics that are older than 5 years.
Is it better to donate or sell items?
You will definitely make quick money if you sell your items instead of donating them. However, it is often difficult to find buyers for your old household stuff. It might take a long time for you to find a buyer, and even then, some stuff might remain unsold. If you donate, you will ensure that you are helping someone out in addition to protecting the environment in the long run. Additionally, most of the items donated to charities are tax-deductible. In this way, you will benefit a lot through donations as well.
When you wish to move out or declutter your house, a donation is the best way to get rid of excessive items. On one hand, a donation makes your life easier while on the other hand, you will feel overwhelmed and satisfied when you donate stuff to a good organization. After all, a small donation from your side could make a huge difference in someone else’s life!