Almost all of us have heard the familiar ringing of bells on the streets of our cities around Christmas time. This is one of the many ways in which The Salvation Army works, but it’s a lot more famous for accepting donations of practically anything.
Many people turn to The Salvation Army when it comes time to downsize and declutter, but you can’t just haul up everything you want to get rid of and dump it at their doorstep. Like most charities, The Salvation Army has very organized ways of going about accepting donations, from drop off locations to guides on what can and can’t be accepted.
Luckily for you, we’ve created a comprehensive guide of tips for donating items to The Salvation Army, as well as covering a few other steps and things you need to keep in mind.
First things first, when you’re thinking of donating, you need to do a little work yourself. This involves a few steps:
- Sorting out your items
- Finding out about the things the charity will accept and decline
- Organizing a way to drop the things off
- Having a backup plan for the rejected items
In terms of sorting out the things you want to donate, make sure you pile them up well. Clothing for women, men, and children need to be in separate piles, and so do any appliances and electronics. All household items need to be arranged separately as well. This not only gives you and the organization a clear idea of everything you’re donating but also makes the pickup/drop-off process easier.
Also See: How to Donate Your Used Items
About The Salvation Army
Founded in 1865, The Salvation Army works across international borders, giving help where needed to those who need it without discrimination or prejudice. This faith-based charitable organization is actually part of the universal Christian Church and is one of the most well known in the world. It covers a range of areas in which it helps communities and people in 130 countries across the globe, including after-school programs, homeless shelters, veteran services, LGBTQ support, disaster relief, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation services.
Types Of Donations To The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army accepts a wide range of donations, from money to vehicles to airline miles! With so many options available, you’re not just limited to a few items to make a difference in some way or the other. Before we tackle the tips to donate items, here’s a brief rundown on the many ways you can help out.
Money: Donating cash to The Salvation Army helps to provide assistance in the means of food and shelter to vulnerable members of your community. You can donate once or make it a monthly donation. You can also choose to donate in memory of someone or to send your donation outside your community to another city or state.
Goods: You can donate your clothes, appliances, furniture, even your vehicle, all of which go towards raising funds for rehabilitation programs.
Bonds & Stocks: You can donate mutual funds, bonds, and stock securities; head over to their website, select your state of residence and contact the respective individual to get started with the process.
Planned Giving: You can contribute to the lives of others with planned donations that include gift annuities, wills, life insurance, and hometown endowment.
Airline Miles: Donating your airline miles helps The Salvation Army with their many programs, helping to move people quickly during disasters or providing travel for those who need emergency medical care.
Read Also: 6 Charities that Offer Free Donation Pick Up
Donating Items To The Salvation Army
Now to help you out with the main question – donating goods and items to The Salvation Army. As you already know, they help out in many ways, and every donation goes towards one or the other of their programs and services.
When you donate items to The Salvation Army, they’re sold in The Salvation Army Thrift Stores across the country. The money raised by the sales funds their Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) that serve as a beacon of hope and a second chance for people struggling with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. The ARCs help program beneficiaries by providing housing, food, counseling, and employment as they work on getting out of their abuse. The Salvation Army has the most no-fee rehabilitation facilities in America.
The most commonly donated items are household goods, clothes, furniture, automobiles, and appliances.
Clothes: The Salvation Army takes in all sorts of clothing, from women’s and men’s to children’s clothes as well. You can donate formals and sportswear as well; the only thing they don’t accept is undergarments. However, your clothes better not have any stains, holes, tears or other signs of wear and tear; The Salvation Army won’t accept these, and they’re better off being recycled.
Books: As long as they’re not falling apart or missing some pages, you can donate your books to The Salvation Army. However, magazines and encyclopedias can’t be accepted.
Toys: The best way to let go of the attachment that so many of us might still have with some of our childhood toys is to see them go to some good use. The Salvation Army accepts one-piece toys, like plushies, Barbie dolls, and action figures. However, toys with a lot of removable parts will not be accepted due to the choking hazard they pose to younger children.
Furniture, Electronics & Appliances: The Salvation Army accepts donations of bulkier furniture, electronics (even some old, outdated pieces), and appliances, as long as they’re in good condition and the appliances and electronics still work.
Automobiles: The best way to go about donating a vehicle is to contact your local Salvation Army and speak with them about what they accept. Though, for the most part, they do accept donations of cars, boats, and other vehicles that needn’t necessarily be in working condition. The vehicles will also go towards funding the ARCs. Some areas of Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington have online pickup scheduling options for automobile donations.
What Does The Salvation Army Not Accept
While The Salvation Army does actually accept practically any and everything (as long as it’s in good condition), there’s also a list of things they can’t accept. This is mainly to comply with federal regulations about reselling used goods, and not selling items that can be potentially hazardous, have been recalled from production, or violate any other rules about reselling items.
Some of these are common across the organization, but others may or may not apply to your region. We recommend making an inventory of all the items you intend on donating and checking with your nearest Salvation Army whether they can be accepted or not. Here are some of the items they can’t accept:
● Baby items like car seats and high chairs. (Keep in mind, they do accept baby clothes.)
● Tube, console and projection TVs, and any TVs that are over 5 years old. (Modern flat screens are accepted.)
● Entertainment centers that are old and outdated, and TV armoires.
● Metal school and office desks and credenzas.
● Any appliances that are older than 10 years.
● Built-in appliances such as dishwashers and ovens.
● Mattresses and box springs.
● Furniture with stains, tears, broken or missing pieces, and pet hair.
Also See: Moving A Mattress
How To Donate Items To The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army has a number of stores across the USA where people can shop for new and gently-used things; these are where a lot of your donations go. These same stores serve as drop-off locations for your donations. The best way for you to know just how to go about donating is by heading over to The Salvation Army website and punching in your ZIP code. This will show you the nearest thrift store, and in some cases, even help you schedule a free pickup.
You can send in your donations during open hours, but some locations also have drop boxes for after-hours donations. However, make sure you confirm this with the store. You can also call The Salvation Army at 1-800-728-7825 to know more.
One of the lesser-known benefits of donating, apart from giving back to the community, is being able to get a tax deduction at the end of the year. We recommend checking out the IRS website to learn more about this process, but keep in mind that you can only get deductions for donations in ‘good condition or better’. Another reminder of why some things are better left for the junk pile instead. When donating to The Salvation Army, you can get write-offs that range from $2 for a shirt to $1,000 for a complete bedroom set.
An important step when you’re looking at tax deductions is saving proof of your donations. Always ensure you collect a tax receipt from The Salvation Army when donating. The receipt must have details like the date, the location, and the description of the donated items. On your part, you need to maintain a record of your receipts, and in the event of not getting a tax receipt, you need to maintain your own organized record.
The second thing to do is to find the fair market value of the items you’ve donated; this will get deducted from your taxes. The fair market value will be lower than the initial price you paid for whatever you’re donating; for instance, the fair market value of a piece of clothing is the typical price that other clothes of the same utility, age, and style will sell for. You have to be reasonable when selecting the fair market value.
Thankfully, The Salvation Army has Donation Value Guides for this very purpose; it helps you determine the tax-deductible value of your donated items. It also gives you low and high estimates so you know what sort of bracket you’re looking at. Here’s some information on the various estimates for appliances and household goods. They also have similarly detailed guides for clothing as well, so make sure you go through their website when writing down the fair market value of your donations.
Also Read: Are Moving Expenses Tax Deductible?
Benefits Of Donating
Environmentally Friendly: Throwing away old things leads to bigger landfills each year; nearly 12 million tons of furniture are thrown away by Americans each year. Imagine how much higher the number would be when adding clothes, toys, and other goods to this. Donating items that have only been lightly used instead of throwing them away not only helps people in need but also eases the pressure on the environment.
Makes Your Move Cheaper: If you’re downsizing for a move, your moving budget is going to get a whole lot easier for you to accept. A rule of thumb that isn’t as widely known as it should be is that the lesser you have to move, the cheaper your move will be. Local moves are generally priced by the number of hours it takes for the move, while long distance moves take into account the total weight of your belongings. Having less to move saves you money no matter what kind of move you have.
Makes Packing Easier: Packing is one of the most underestimated aspects of a move. Before you know it, you’re in a frenzy with too many boxes and not enough packing tape. But downsizing and donating things you no longer need help you have a comparatively more organized packing session.
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Is Donating To Salvation Army Good?
Yes, donating to The Salvation Army is good. Their donations go directly into helping people in need. Of course, there are several other organizations you can donate to as well like Goodwill and American Red Cross.
What Will Salvation Army Not Take?
Among the list of things that you can’t donate to The Salvation Army are built-in applications, applications older than 10 years, TVs older than 5 years, metal desks, baby car seats, mattresses, and box springs.
How Much Can You Write Off For Salvation Army Donations?
Depending on what your donation is, you can get a write-off of up to $1,000. But the IRS limits your tax deductions to 50% of your adjusted gross income per year.
One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure, but donating these items instead of having them land up in the trash is a much better way to help other people find their treasures. Of course, you can always choose to sell the things you no longer need, but if you happen to have thought of donating them instead, do go ahead with it.
Also See: List of Best Cheap Movers in the America