Clutter for Charity: How to Declutter and Donate

Have you ever felt guilty after a whirlwind decluttering session, because you have boxes full of potentially useful stuff that you no longer want or need?  Throwing it away doesn’t feel right, but you can’t keep it. Fortunately, there are dozens of charities eagerly awaiting your donation; and I want to help you understand how, when, and what to donate.

Clutter for Charity: How to Declutter and Donate | | clutter, declutter, donate, donation, donate clutter, holiday donations, boat donations, vehicle donations

Know What Can Be Donated

There are remarkably few restrictions on what can be donated, which means almost every piece of clutter in your home can go to a good cause. In fact, as long as you don’t try to donate items that have been banned by U.S. or local governments or hazardous, flammable, or toxic substances, you should be able to get rid of all of your old belongings by donating to charity or at least recycling.

It’s important to remember that individual organizations will have specific limitations on what they can accept; for example, few charitable thrift stores have the capability to receive larger donations, like washer/dryers or refrigerators, most won’t take TV’s, mattresses or pillows anymore, and please don’t donate items in poor condition. Those can be recycles or trashed. make sure you call or review an organization’s acceptable donations before attempting to make a contribution.

Clutter for Charity: How to Declutter and Donate | | clutter, declutter, donate, donation, donate clutter, holiday donations, boat donations, vehicle donations

Know Who Takes Certain Donations

It is tempting to package all your donations into a few boxes and unload them all at a single charity, but depending on the quantity and quality of your clutter, you probably do not have that luxury. Instead, you should do some research on local charities. You can use websites like Charity Navigator to ensure you support organizations with trustworthy reputations.

Also look for organizations that take specific items. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Magazines: Your local library will probably accept newer issues of popular magazines, but organizations like nursing homes and women’s shelters will gladly take in all sorts of reading materials.
  • Old vehicles/boats: Older vehicles tend not to sell as well as you might hope, and donation will likely provide the best return. Only specialized charities are equipped to take in boats and cars, so you should look for one in your area.
  • Mattresses: Used mattresses present some health risks, so many charities play it safe by refusing to accept them. Still, homeless shelters, refugee organizations, and others will gladly take in gently used beds of all sizes.
  • Old Towels and Pillows: Animal shelters love and need towels, pillows, sheets, etc.

Clutter for Charity: How to Declutter and Donate | | clutter, declutter, donate, donation, donate clutter, holiday donations, boat donations, vehicle donations

 Always Ask for a Receipt

Your donations don’t just do the community good; if you make sizable charitable contributions every year, you can see an equally sizable deduction on your annual taxes. However, the IRS requires proof of all listed donations, which means you must obtain a receipt every time a charity takes some of your clutter. The receipt should detail when you donated, what you donated, and the value of each donated item. If you or your chosen organization has trouble assessing value, you can use this helpful guide published by the IRS.

Never Give Away Trash

In the midst of your decluttering fervor, you might accidentally mix up the trash bag and the donation box ― it happens to most of us. This may seem like an obvious tip, but you should never try to pass trash on to charitable organizations. Millions of people try to donate trash to charities every year, likely by mistake, but every piece of donated garbage slows the charitable process and adds to charities’ expenses. Items that are irreparably broken, almost used up, or otherwise purposeless to anyone should go straight into the garbage bin. Once you are finished decluttering, you should spend a few minutes peering into your donation boxes to ensure that no trash snuck in to gum up your good works.

Clutter for Charity: How to Declutter and Donate | | clutter, declutter, donate, donation, donate clutter, holiday donations, boat donations, vehicle donationsWhen to Donate

Right now is a great time to get going on your decluttering and donating process. It’s a great opportunity to get your kids involved in charitable works and the true meaning of the giving season. It’s before the holidays and many people will be shopping at the donation centers looking for a good buys! Thrift stores and charities are looking to stock up. Use this as motivation to declutter before the holidays! It will make yourself and your home feel better!

Do you have any good donation tips or specific places you like to donate to? We would love to hear about them!

18 Replies to “Clutter for Charity: How to Declutter and Donate”

  1. This is great, Autumn! I recently tried the ItsDeductible app from Intuit to keep track of my donations. It’s so easy to add items. You can also add cash donations. You can then download or connect it to your TurboTax software. The process of donating should be easy so one will be more willing to share unwanted items instead of throwing them away.

  2. Love the tip about animal shelters Autumn! I always seem to default to certain thrift stores in my area that support cancer and Alzheimer’s research. It’s good to remember that other organizations need our donations too.

  3. Managing donations is almost a sub-profession, isn’t it? This is the perfect time to declutter. Not only does it free your space before the holidays, but it maybe result in another person having access to a needed item or gift item that they otherwise could not have afforded. I do say to be thoughtful about the condition of donations, so I really appreciate that you made that point!
    Seana Turner recently posted…Sneaking In Some StorageMy Profile

  4. The beauty of donating is that most things (good things…just things you no longer want) get a second chance. They can benefit others. The “where to” of donating becomes an issue for many of my clients. Having Goodwill or VVA do a pick up isn’t always sufficient. They often want to make sure their treasured belongings are going to a specific person or charity. That can take more time to identify and let go of things, however, it becomes an essential part of the process for them. They need to feel good about where their things are going. For other clients, the need to have the items removed as easily and quickly as possible is what incentivizes them.

    I love Stacey’s idea of using different colored bags for trash and donations. Clever, clever!

  5. Blessing other with your goodies makes it easier to declutter. It’s not always about matching up but more getting your goodies out the door. When you find great local charities who take just about everything, it’s a win win!

  6. Nice post!When I see people that are living on the road side, then I feel guilty. Through your site, I thought this is a great idea to overcome the guilt. Thank you so much for sharing this post.

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