When you are going through the tedious task of cleaning out your closets, it’s always nice to know that you can box up all of the items you no longer use and donate them to charity to help those in need. Unfortunately, there are charities out there that seem to prioritize profit over helping people. But how can you tell which organizations will use your donations effectively, and which ones are just looking to make money?
The used clothing market is bigger than you might think — over $4 billion — so there is a lot of money to be made if that is a charity’s focus. According to Charity Choices — a website committed to providing donors with facts about charities — many organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army sell their donations in bulk and then use the money to fund their various programs. Many others will use donations like clothing, cars and furniture in their own programs to help those in need.
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Ultimately, what matters is that your donated goods are actually used for charity. Here are some of the best places to donate your used items. Just remember to contact them first or research their websites to find out the specifics about what they do and do not accept.
Dress For Success
This international organization is committed to helping women land a job and thrive in the workplace by providing gently-used, work-appropriate clothing. You can donate new or gently-used suits, business apparel, shoes, handbags, cosmetics and jewelry at an affiliate near you.
For men’s clothing, you can donate to Career Gear to help those in poverty get a job, learn skills and contribute to their family and community.
If you have old books taking up space in your closets or on your shelves, a great place to donate them is Operation Paperback. This organization donates books to troops serving overseas, veterans and military families. All you have to do is sign up on the website and input the genres you have, then it will give you a customized address list and send you a shipping kit so you can send out your used books.
Another option for donating books is your local library. Libraries are often more than happy to accept gently-used books, CDs and DVDs. They will either put the items on their shelves or sell them to raise funds for library events and activities. They also accept donations of old computers that are still in usable condition.
Habitat For Humanity ReStore
Operated by Habitat For Humanity, the ReStores sell new and gently-used home items like furniture, building materials and kitchen appliances. If you have one in your area, it will pick up any large items you wish to donate, or you can drop off the smaller items. Then, it sells the items to the public for “a fraction of the retail price.”
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Habitat For Humanity also accepts donations of used tools like tape measures, hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches for its construction projects. You can also donate your car to the organization if you are looking to get rid of a junker. It accepts cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, boats, snowmobiles, farm equipment and construction equipment. Then, it uses a service to sell the vehicle, and 80 percent of the revenue goes to Habitat for Humanity to fund its projects.
When it comes to used linens, most places won’t accept them. But one place that will be happy to take them off your hands is your local animal shelter. Animal shelters can use the used linens for lining beds or washing the animals. Just make sure to call ahead and see if it is accepting donations.
If your kids have outgrown their toys and baby supplies, consider donating them to Baby2Baby. This organization collects everything that is donated to it, and then it distributes the items to places like children’s hospitals and shelters. Baby2Baby accepts a long list of baby items including clothing, blankets, toys, cribs, car seats and high chairs.
If you are looking for a place to donate your old cell phone, tablet or other electronic devices, try the 1Million Project. It provides low-income high school students with free mobile devices and internet connectivity to help them with their education.
Images via RawPixel (1, 2), Lubos Houska, Mike Mozart, Sneakerdog and Shutterstock