After the Garage Sale is Done: Donation Dos and Don’ts
One sure sign of spring in Minnesota are all the annual city-wide garage sales, which are a perfect opportunity to clean out the garage, basement and attic and get rid of things that you no longer need. Not sure when your city is holding the big event? Click here for a full list of 2016 Minnesota City Wide Garage Sales. (Don’t forget, our sister company Broadway Party & Tent Rental can help with all of your garage sale needs, including tables, garment racks, cash boxes and more!)
Once the garage sale is over, it’s inevitable that you will have a few items that didn’t sell. Many people then donate the unsold items to second-hand/thrift stores such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army. It’s a great way to pass along gently used items and clothing (and get a tax deduction), but most donation sites have guidelines as to what they will or will not accept. Do your research first, and check out these donation dos and don’ts from home-storage-solutions-101.
There are just a few basic rules to keep in mind when donating what you consider clutter to the charity (or charities) of your choice.
1. Consider the best charity for your specific donations. There are many different types of charities that accept donations of household items, and each of them use these items in different ways or try to give them to various types of people (or animals) in need.
When you’re vigorously decluttering your home it may be best to just send your donations to a charity which accepts a wide variety of things, like Goodwill or The Salvation Army, so you’re not spending too much time trying to pass things to different organizations.
However, if you’ve got a large amount of a certain item, or if it’s something general donation centers may not accept, you may want to get creative with where you’re donating. For example, many animal rescues/shelters will gladly take old towels and blankets to make the animals more comfortable.
If you’ve got enough time and energy while decluttering, it can be nice to consider which items to donate to which organizations. There are animal shelters, women and homeless shelters, food banks, local libraries, schools, and more that can all accept and would appreciate specific types of items. Donating items to where they will be most appreciated can make the process of decluttering your home not only fulfilling for them, but for you too. Plus, it makes it more motivating to keep going with the process.
2. If you want to take a tax deduction, you must get a donation receipt and properly value your donations. Knowing the proper valuation of donated household items can be tricky, and depends on what was donated and its condition (all items must be usable, for example). Therefore, it is best to consult with your tax preparer and/or the charity you’re donating with to determine valuation.
3. Make sure you provide items through the method specified by the charity. Charities are always very thankful to receive your used items, but do them a favor and try to comply with their guidelines for donation to make it as easy for them to accept your items without having to go to extra expense. Many of these charities rely on volunteer labor to help sort through donations, or must pay employees to do the task. Either way, respect the costs involved and present items in the way it makes it easiest for the charity.
For example, some charities will do a donation pickup. If you schedule such a pick up, or say you’ll participate in a pick up going on in your neighborhood on a certain date, make sure to actually have stuff ready when the charity arrives. They’re doing you a big favor in picking up clutter from your door, so make it as easy on them as possible.
There is only one big “don’t” when you donate household items to charity – make sure what you donate is only clutter to you, and not to the recipient of your donation. That is basically another way of saying, don’t donate trash to charities!
None of us would purposefully hand trash to our friends or family as a “gift,” but sometimes when we’re in the midst of the decluttering process we start to go pretty quickly getting things out of our house and may unintentionally do something similar to the charities we give to.
Charities accept these donations so they can either sell them second-hand, or give them away to needy individuals. However, it defeats the purpose when you make a charity pay money to haul away your trash.
When I say “trash” I don’t just mean the obvious stuff, but the things that are in disrepair, don’t work properly, are missing parts, or are ripped, torn or stained. If you wouldn’t feel OK looking the person in the eye who got the item, letting them know it came from you, then don’t donate it to charity!
Donating items to charities can make everyone happy when done correctly – you get the stuff out of your home and help someone else at the same time. Follow these common sense rules and you’ll continue to find fulfillment in the decluttering process for years to come.