Every few months, I find myself cleaning rooms and shelves around my house in an effort to declutter. It feels like I can never keep up, but that’s not the point. What is the point is that when I gather things together I usually end up donating them to local charities or thrift stores. What’s the point of throwing away perfectly good things that others can use?
After you’ve gone through your home and gathered up what you want to donate, you probably stuff it all in a bag or box and drop it off at the thrift shop. Before throwing it into the box, you should consider the following points when donating used things to charity.
Itemize What You Plan to Donate
Did you know that you could count donations to a charity toward your yearly taxes? As you place things into your box, make sure to keep a running list of the things you plan to give away. Note the condition and approximate value for each item, and be realistic too. If it’s a t-shirt in fair condition, it’s probably worth $5 not $50 – unless it’s made of gold or signed by Elvis. In which case, you might want to hang on to that… but moving on.
Many charitable organizations provide lists of estimated values for items to help you out. Check out the lists provided by Goodwill and Salvation Army to get an idea of what items are worth before starting. Volunteers or workers at the charity you drop off items at can probably also help you estimate value and help answer any remaining questions.
Organize Similar Things Together
To help make volunteers and workers jobs a bit easier, pack things in groups that go together. For example, don’t throw a bunch of books, clothing, pots and shoes in one box. It takes people time to sort through and organize them into where they need to go, and they have to sort through hundreds of donations each day. Take the extra few minutes to pack similar items together and help them save time.
Wrap Fragile Objects
To ensure that things like glass vases, ceramic dishware or anything of a fragile nature makes it to its final destination safely, wrap them in newspaper or bubble wrap. Charitable organizations can’t sell broken items, plus they can pose a danger to workers who handle donations.
Throw Away Worn or Broken Items
Check electronics, clothing and any other items you plan to donate for wear and tear. If whatever you plan to donate is broken or in pretty shabby condition, you might want to recycle or throw it away instead. Chances are if whatever you donate doesn’t meet standards of the charity distribution center, they’ll discard it as well. Save them the time and check your items first.
Wash Dirty Clothing
Usually thrift stores will wash clothing prior to selling it, but washing them before packing them up will prevent the other clothes from getting dirty. Again, it also saves the donation center a little bit of time when they have to process your donation.
Also check with whichever center you plan to drop off goods at because some might not accept donations without them being cleaned or dry-cleaned.
Lastly, once you drop off all your things, make sure to ask the donation clerk for a receipt. Remember these can all count toward your yearly tax deductions.
Getting rid of things around the house and decluttering offers a great opportunity to help those in need. Just make sure to follow these few simple tips to make donating them easy for you and the charity you’re helping.