To follow up on my year end tax tip post, it only seems appropriate to share where you can donate unwanted items for one last itemized tax deduction. Charitable contributions, including the fair market value of noncash donations, are only deductible if you itemize deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040. And to be deductible, you must make charitable contributions to qualified organizations. To determine if the organization that you have contributed to qualifies as a charitable organization for income tax deduction purposes, refer to the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check tool. For more information, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions and Can I Deduct My Charitable Contributions?
Even if you don’t want the deduction, it’s a great time of year to clean out the clutter in your house. Of course there are the usual charities like Goodwill or Salvation Army. Or you can fill up an empty box and ship it to your nearest Goodwill with a prepaid shipping label through the Give Back Box program.
What are some other options if you don’t want to bother selling things on Craigslist or eBay? Or perhaps the items in question still have a little life in them and aren’t ready to be recycled or can’t be thrown in the trash.
First, Donation Town is a great resource for connecting with local charities that will pick up donations from you. For example, I typed in my zip code and 10 different charities popped up for me to choose from. They also include some overall guidelines about acceptable donations, though every charity is different.
Earth911 is also a great resource for searching for local recycling centers. This is especially helpful when trying to get rid of hazardous materials, electronics, or other items not collected as part of the regular curbside recycling pickup. Though this probably won’t get you a tax deduction.
Clothing and Accessories
While there are larger clutter offenders in my life, clothing seems to be one of the items I can part with the easiest. I usually just keep a bag for donations in my closet and take it to Goodwill once it gets full.
If you’re looking to recoup your purchases and get a little cash back, there’s eBay, brick and mortar consignment shops, and online consignment shops like thredUP. They send you a Clean Out bag, which you mail back to them for free. After they review your clothing, you either get threadUp shopping credit or cash for the items accepted for resale. Any items not accepted for resale are then donated or sent to textile recycling companies (or mailed back to you for a fee, if you really want). I’ve also seen people create separate Instagram accounts to resell gently used designer clothes, goods they’ve received from sponsors, or baby clothes their kids never wore.
Formal Dresses, Wedding Dresses, or Bridesmaid Dresses
Depending on the time of year (i.e. homecoming or prom season) or style of dress, you might be able to donate dresses to charities such as Brides for a Cause, Brides Against Breast Cancer, or one of these many local non-profits. You can also sell your wedding dress on Once Wed,
Suits, Business Clothing
Unopened makeup can also be donated to Dress for Success, a local women’s shelter, or non-profits that facilitate the donation of formal dresses.
Most coat drives are held in the Fall and Winter months. Since there’s still a while to go with winter, check out One Warm Coat to find a coat drive near you. Or you can make a monetary donation to Operation Warm, who makes and donates brand new winter coats to kids.
Running or other athletic shoes that still have a few miles in them can be donated to Soles4Souls or several other charities. If your shoes are past their prime, drop them off at a Reuse-A-Shoe recycling bin in Nike stores and outlets to be turned into athletic surfaces.
To dispose of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service and ask if a drug take-back program is available in your community. For example, there are drop off boxes at the police station and courthouse.
Old books, including textbooks, can be dropped at local donation bins. Some charities will recycle books if they are not fit to pass along.
Home Building Supplies
I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity during high school. In addition to helping build a house, I volunteered at one of their ReStores. “ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Habitat for Humanity ReStores are proudly owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates, and proceeds are used to build homes, community, and hope locally and around the world.”
Sensitive Documents to be Shredded
If you don’t have a shredder at home, local banks and credit unions occasionally host paper shredding drives. For example, a local credit union shredded your documents on site in exchange for a food or monetary donation to a food bank.
Working appliances in good condition can be donated to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. But if your appliance has stopped working, some local utility companies will haul it away for you and gift you a rebate, to boot!
Linens (Sheets, Blankets, and Towels)
Local animal shelters will use these items as pet bedding or to line animal crates.
This could probably be a whole post in and of itself, but women’s shelters and crisis pregnancy centers can use donations of diapers (unused, obviously), clothes, toys, bottles, cribs, play mats, swings, strollers, and car seats. Also check to see if they accept unopened containers of formula or baby food.