I mentioned in my last decluttering post that I dropped off several bags of clothing to Goodwill. I don't have any personal affiliation or preference for charitable organizations. As far as I'm concerned, they are all (at least if they are legitimate charities) in existence to provide assistance to people who are in need, whether it is after a tragic event or a lifetime of struggling. You may prefer to donate to a charity that contributes to a specific cause, church, or local group. I highly recommend checking with the Google Fairy to find a local organization that is in line with your beliefs if that is the case. That way, when you donate, you may feel more motivated because you are not just getting rid of stuff, you are giving to a cause you believe in.
A few helpful tips for making donations:
- Get a receipt if you plan to claim your donation on your taxes. Make a reasonable estimate of the value of the items you are donating. Be sure to not overestimate, lest the IRS come to question you about that $3000 teapot you generously donated to the Salvation Army. If you do wish to claim over $500 in donations for the year, contact a tax adviser to find out what forms you will need to fill out. Goodwill and the Salvation Army both have guides available to help you get an idea of what your items are worth.
- Find out if any local charities will pick up in your area. Also, find out what they will pick up. Some will take whatever you have, others will only take large items like furniture, heavy equipment, and vehicles. Another consultation with the Google Fairy is in order here, as even with larger organizations like the Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity, policies may vary from city to city.
- Make sure your items are in clean and in useable condition. It is unfair to include damaged or dirty items in your donation. Please remember that most organizations are run by volunteers; don't waste their time by forcing them to throw away your garbage.
- If you have a large donation to make, you may want to call ahead to find out if the local store has room for your stuff. It would really suck if you loaded up a truck full of household goods to drop off only to be turned away at the door, wouldn't it?
- Finally, be sure you are donating to a legitimate organization. They should have a tax ID and be willing to give you a receipt. If not, you may want to take your goods elsewhere.