One of the easiest ways to donate your belongings is to reach out to a reputable junk removal company. The organizations on this list pride themselves on donating and recycling things like furniture and appliances that may be of use to others. There are other options too. We’ll walk you through possibilities like selling your old belongings and claiming tax deductions. You can also consult our list of donation centers to see if there’s a location near you.
How to Donate Your Used Items (and Help Someone in Need at the Same Time)
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Before donating, determine if it is still useful
Before donating, take the condition of the item into consideration. Only donate items that are new, unused, or “gently used,” which means items that are in good condition, clean, and presentable. Do not donate items in disrepair that don't work properly, are missing parts, or are ripped, torn, or stained. If you can't use the item in its current state, neither can a charity.
Consider selling and then donating the money
Donating cash to your charity of choice helps you give money to those who you believe need it most. Using auction and classified websites such as eBay, holding a garage sale, or using a consignment shop are good options to sell your items. When you donate cash you know the exact amount to report to the IRS, as opposed to using the valuation (we'll cover valuation next).
If you’re looking for the easiest ways to donate, check out our list of charities that pick up donations.
Check with your tax professional for advice, but know that donated items are usually tax deductible. If you want a tax deduction for donating used items, you need to get a donation receipt, and you'll have to value your donations.
How to deduct
Make a list of all of the items you donate, and attach the receipt you receive from the charity. Retain the receipt for your taxes. If you are audited by the IRS, you don't have any way to prove you donated the items if you don't have a receipt.
The value of the donated items depends on the item and its condition. Use the current fair market value to determine the valuation. Items must be in good condition or better for you to use the deduction. Goodwill and The Salvation Army both offer Donation Value Guides. The IRS also offers a publication to help you better understand the guidelines for donating used items.
Charities must be registered with the IRS as a 501c(3) tax-exempt organization for your donated items to be tax deductible. You can check a charity's tax status on the IRS's website. You can also perform a background check on a charity at sites such as Charitynavigator.org and Charitywatch.org.
Use Kelley Blue Book to get an estimate of your car's worth, but keep in mind that you may not deduct the full blue-book value of your car if it's in poor condition. The IRS also requires an independent appraisal when the value of an item is more than $5,000. Find an appraiser through the American Society of Appraisers.
Best places to donate your stuff
Sells donated items, and in turn helps individuals find jobs and develop job skills. They accept clothing and accessories, electronics, household goods, furniture, books and multimedia, and more.
Sells donated items and uses funds to help children and families, the homeless, veterans, and others in need. They accept clothing, furniture, and other household goods. Offers free pickups.
Provides support for at-risk youth, those returning from prison, the homeless, the disabled, and those struggling with addictions. Accepts clothing, household items, and other used goods at their thrift stores located in various cities throughout the US.
Clothing, shoes, and accessories
Provides resources for individuals to secure and maintain employment. Donate gently used professional apparel to one of their locations in the US.
Provides professional attire and career development tools to women in need. Accepts new or nearly new suits, other business-appropriate apparel, shoes, and accessories like handbags, unused cosmetics, and jewelry. Affiliate locations are located in several cities across the US and internationally.
Animal rescue organization that accepts donations of jewelry only. Jewelry can be mailed to the address provided on their website.
Holds coat drives nationwide every fall and winter to help local charities give coats to those in need. Coat drive drop-off locations are listed on their website.
Concentrates on sustainable development projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Accepts good-quality clothing for their domestic thrift shops located throughout the US and sells clothing to overseas customers where they can be resold, creating jobs and providing a source of affordable clothing. Lesser-quality clothing is sent to recycling centers and repurposed into other things.
Collects new and gently used shoes and clothing and distributes them to those in need. Take clothes and shoes to a nearby drop-off location or ship them by purchasing a shipping label directly from their website.
Local women's and family shelters
Most are in need of gently used toys, games, and children's clothing. Contact your local women's or family shelter.
Donates Night Night packages to homeless children ages 12 and under. Each package contains a new security blanket, an age-appropriate children's book, and a stuffed animal. Primarily accepts new items, but check their website for guidelines before donating.
Houses families of sick children who are hospitalized. They accept donations of toys, games, and media to stock their houses and entertain families. Contact your local Ronald McDonald House to find out their specific needs and how to donate.
SAFE (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies)
Accepts various items including stuffed animals, coloring books, books, crayons, blankets, children's clothes, and baby-related items. These items benefit children during situations such as fires, accidents, illness, neglect, abuse, homelessness, and weather emergencies. Donations are accepted at their chapter locations.
Electronics (including cell phones)
Provides free communication services and funding to serving troops and veterans. Donate gently used or new cell phones and tablets at a drop-off location or mail them to the organization.
Provides services to assist survivors of domestic abuse. Donate cell phones, laptops, MP3 players, digital cameras, and video game systems. Most items are refurbished and resold; proceeds support the organization’s services.
Provides organizations with technology to help low-income individuals, those with disabilities, and at-risk students. Accepts computers, software, printers, and other technology. Use the Non-Profit Locator on their site to find a drop-off location.
Provides refurbished used computers to organizations in developing countries. Drop off your working computer at a local chapter or mail it to their headquarters.
Sports and fitness equipment
Sends used bicycles and parts to organizations in developing countries. Accepts bicycles, bicycle parts, and accessories at drop-off locations, through bike shop partners, and at scheduled collection events. The organization also asks for a $10 donation to help get your bike overseas.
International program promotes health and fitness by providing running shoes and athletic equipment to those in need in the United States and throughout the world. You can donate at drop-off locations throughout the US or mail shoes to their main location.
Provides soccer supplies to communities in need. Accepts most types of soccer equipment, including balls, pumps, jerseys, shorts, soccer socks, soccer cleats, ball bags, and more. Peace Passers connects those with gear to groups that ensure the items are used.
Most charities only accept specific types of books, particularly those most relevant to the organizations to which they donate. Always check their website first for guidelines before sending books.
Sells books through its website and uses the funds to support literacy programs. You can ship your book donation prepaid or drop them off at one of the organization's Book Bins.
Ships books to schools and libraries in Africa. Donations are accepted at one of their warehouses or via mail. Books for Africa also requests a donation of 50 cents per book to cover shipping costs.
Sends books to troops overseas. Sign up on their website to become a volunteer shipper and request addresses to send your books to troops overseas, veterans, or military families.
The Book Donation Map of America has an interactive map that shows you all the places in your community that accept books.
Offers a database of local charities that pick up donations of clothing and other household goods.
Offers an online forum where people give away goods, including furniture. Offer your furnishings on the site as a way to give to someone who may not be able to afford them otherwise.
Donated furniture funds their resale store, and you can use the Goodwill Locator to find a drop-off center.
Owned by local Habitat for Humanity organizations. Proceeds from the ReStore are used to help fund local and national Habitat for Humanity housing programs. Accepts new and gently used furniture, appliances, housewares, and building materials at local store locations.
Salvation Army stocks furniture in their resale shop. Locate a drop-off center on the Salvation Army website.
Homeless shelters provide housing and food to those in need and often accept furniture donations. Your local United Way can provide you with a list of homeless shelters in your area.
Local women's and family shelters
Sometimes they are in need of furniture donations. Contact your local women's or family shelter.
Many charities with resale shops accept working small appliances. They also may accept larger appliances, but their policies vary at each location. Check with your local store.
Donation website where you can post your available items, including appliances, and you are connected with nonprofits and charities seeking the items you are offering. The organization also accepts hair, fur, wool, and fleece clippings to create special mats to combat the effects of oil spills.
Cars, RVs, Boats
Works to prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of those with diabetes. Accepts cars, trucks, boats, trailer, jet skis, and RVs.
Builds and rehabilitates homes to provide housing for families in need. Accepts cars, trucks, boats, and other vehicles.
Dedicates their efforts to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of kidney disease. They accept donations of cars, trucks, vans, boats, motorcycles, motocross bikes, power sports equipment (such as ATVs), off-road motorcycles, construction equipment, personal watercraft (such as Jet Skis), and farm equipment, including tractors with a serial number.
Offers a variety of nationwide programs for wounded soldiers, veterans, and their families. Accepts car, truck, boat, and RV donations.
Often accepts vehicle donations including boats, but not all types of vehicles are accepted at all locations. Check with your local Salvation Army first, or call them at 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825) to get more information about vehicle donations.
Provides support for at-risk youth, those returning from prison, the homeless, the disabled, and those struggling with addictions. Donate your car, truck, boat, or RV. Pickup is free.
Your local high school or vocational college
You may be able to donate your used car for use in the school's auto-repair classes. Contact the school directly to discuss their needs.
Whether you want to clear your clutter or prepare for your next move, there's no better time than the present moment to start sorting your unused and unwanted things. After making a few phone calls or visiting a few websites, you can have a plan in place. When you donate your used items to do-good organizations like those listed, you'll clear your space while contributing to charitable organizations and doing your part to leave the world a better place