3 Tips When Donating Items To Charity

Living & Giving

You know the routine. You look up one day and decide that you have too much stuff in your home and something must go. Maybe you try and give the items away to family and friends or you may decide just to donate it to your local Goodwill. For the record, charity stores do not have to accept any and everything that you give them. Save everyone some time and do these three things before donating to charity.

Check their website to see what they can and cannot accept.

You’d be surprised at some of the things that can’t be donated. I once tried to give away plastic hangers and college textbooks and was denied. If your item is still useful, then it may take you more time to identify the right place for your donation. Eventually, I was able to provide the hangers to an organization that help families get set up in permanent housing.

Check to make sure that clothes aren’t dirty, ripped, or soiled.

When the staff is sorting through the clothes, any damaged (or smelly) clothes are immediately thrown out because they don’t have the resources to wash or repair each item. Remember, the goal is to get the goods immediately on the sales floor and make some money for the organization.

When in doubt, trash it.

I know that we all want to do good, but put the trashed/broken/outdated items where they belong. If you know that something cannot be used by anyone, then do not pass that along. It’s rude and you don’t need the bad karma.

After you’ve made your donation, don’t forget to get a receipt from the nonprofit. Of course, most of us donate out of the kindness of our hearts, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of the tax benefits. When you donate items to a thrift store run by a charitable 501(c)3 organization, you can deduct the “fair market value” of the items when you prepare your taxes. “Fair market value” essentially means that you estimate the value of that item today. So, don’t list your twenty-year old Gap blouse with the missing button at the price you paid, especially since we all know it’s not worth that anymore! For more guidance, ask your accountant or visit irs.gov.

Still wondering what to donate and what to skip? I have more guidance here.

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