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.
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.
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.
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.
When 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!