Think Before you Donate: The Do’s and Don’ts of Donating

When you are cleaning out your home and making room for new purchases, it can be hard to throw all those personal items in the trash. Your solution may be to donate everything. While donation is a wonderful act, and many of your items and furniture can be used by those that need them, some things are just better off in the trash. Take a minute to think about the items that you are donating before you just throw everything into a box or bag and take it to the donation center.

Step 1: Start by figuring out if an item can actually be used by another person or if it is trash. Your paint covered t-shirt would better serve as a rag. Things that may be torn or stained are not items that can be sold or used by someone else. Home items are the same. If your plates are chipped and cracked, you should just throw them away. Donating your items that are not useful to anyone, is really just transferring the issue of your clutter to the charity you donated to. While donations are very much appreciated by charities and it is something they need, dealing with clutter that can’t be used, stretches their limited resources. So just think about each item before putting it in a donation box.

Step 2: Once you have sorted through the clutter and figured out what is worthy of donation, determine where it should go. While it may be easier to just drop everything off at one charity, certain items can benefit specific charities more than others. It is very simple to sort through and divide up your wears. Just do a little research before you start, set up a box for each charity and put the appropriate items in each one.

Step 3: Follow donation guidelines for each organization. While most of their guidelines are common sense, take a moment to make sure you are doing it right. As mentioned above, many of these organizations are working on a limited budget, so properly donating items helps them out as much as the donation itself. For example, make sure the clothes that you are donating are clean and if you schedule a pick up, make sure all of your items are ready to go during your pick up time.

Step 4: Think outside the box a little when choosing the organization you are going to give your donation to. Everyone thinks about the large charities that we give to all the time, but what about smaller or local efforts. For example, if you have old business clothing or suits consider Dress for Success, which provides clothing to  women that are seeking employment. Or if you have children’s books you no longer need, see if your library or local children’s hospital would like them.

Step 5: If you plan to write off your donation, make sure you determine a proper value for what you are donating and ask for a receipt. Don’t plan to go back to the organization and ask for a receipt after the fact, that is not something that a charity will likely track.

Donations of items are vital to many organizations, however they also don’t want items that are better left on your curb. So just take a minute before you carry those boxes to your local donation center and help everyone out.

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