No matter where you are in the United States, there are always people in need of charitable donations. In 2017 alone, Charity Navigator estimates that Americans donated more than $410 billion to charity.
Whether you’re donating to those in poverty or veterans in need or military families, there are plenty of good reasons to donate to charity. When it comes to donating, you can help those less fortunate in more ways than donating money. In many cases, household items, store bought items or gently used items can go a long way in helping those in need.
If you’re considering donating some of your household items to charity, here are some helpful do-and-don’ts for doing it right:
- DO: Consider the final destination: The average American buys at least twice as many pieces of clothing as 20 years ago and about 4.7 billion pounds of clothing are donated by Americans each year. Even so, Americans only recycle or donate 15% of their used clothing on average.
If you’re one of those people who’s got piles of clothes in the closet, there’s a lot of benefit to getting rid of clutter. Whether you’re donating clothes or other household items, you want to check first to see what different charities take as far as donations. Many organizations such as Purple Heart Pickup enable you to make donations that pick up at home, but take some care to be aware of what you’re donating and which charity might make the best use of it. What one organization might not take, another organization will allow you to make donations that pick up at home.
- DO: Know your value: By decluttering your house, you can likely come up with a lot of items to donate to charity. That being said, you can also make donations and get a tax deduction. In order to get a deduction, you’ll need to make a list of your items and properly value it. The more and the clearer documentation you can make, the better your chances are of getting a deduction. As you add items to a “donations that pick up at home” box, keep a list and try to provide a rough estimate of the value of those items.
Remember, any charitable donation worth more than $250 (including donations of clothing and household items) will require a receipt to write off on your taxes. The IRS also requires a qualified appraisal to be submitted with your tax return if you donate any single clothing item or household item that is not in good used condition or better and for which you donated more than $500.
- DON’T: Donate junk: When it comes to donating to any charity, the biggest rule to follow is to not donate junk. If you’re decluttering your house, you want to look for donation items that will be of use to other folks. So if you’ve got ratty towels and ratty clothes, don’t donate those because they’re already well worn. If you’re looking for a good rule of thumb, think about if something is good enough to donate to a family member before you donate it to charity.
- DO: Follow the rules: If you’re set on donating to a specific charity, make sure you follow whatever guidelines they have for donating. If they allow donations that pick up at home, make sure you put them in containers that can be easily transported. You also want to be sure if you set a certain time or date for donations that pick up from home, make sure you’re at home when the charity arrives.
There are any number of ways you can help those in need. You can donate time, donate money or reach out to those in need and ask what you can to help. Making household donations can go a long way, but make sure that the charity or charities you want to donate to take your donations and that you’re donating items that can be of good use to those in need of help and support.