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Last updated: December 23, 2019 • Lifestyle

The Joy of Donating Household Items

Americans donated 2.1% of their GDP in 2017, according to Gallup, which places our nation among the most generous countries on the planet. Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and wildfires are just a few acts of God who taught us the importance of being big-hearted and near those in need. Donating household items or money regularly is part of our lifestyle. And as parents, we don’t only give financial advice to our teenagers, we also teach them to share their hard-earned money with others. We constantly strive to make the world a better place. According to the CAF World Giving Index, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand were the top three good Samaritans last year, while the US came fourth. So, do you have furniture to give away free? Or would you like to donate appliances to veterans? Let us give you some tips to make the most out of your donor dollars. And rather than wasting time planning a garage sale, consider making a donation instead.

The largest US charities

Salvation army thrift stores

According to a ranking published by Forbes, the three largest charities in the US are United Way Worldwide, Feeding America, and Americares Foundation. The Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity International are also in the top ten. About 1,000 people are employed by these large organizations that have a huge impact nationwide and even overseas. So, if you’re considering donating household items, these charities are always looking for household items that might be missing in other households. But that doesn’t mean that smaller, local charities don’t deserve any help. Sometimes it is quite hard to decide on the charities that deserve your donations. And even though we may find it unfair, some charities will always attract more funds than others depending on how much they manage to strike a chord with us. 

Donating household items in high demand

Donation box full of plates

What do we understand by household items? This term refers to all the things that we use around the house for maintenance, for cleaning, as well as for our daily comfort. Among the household items you will find:

  • Furniture and decorations
  • Appliances
  • Kitchen accessories
  • Gadgets for entertainment
  • Clothing
  • Gym equipment 
  • Gardening tools

Since every charity covers different kinds of needs and shortages, some items might be more suitable for Samaritan’s Purse than for the American Cancer Society. To make sure your items end up in a home that really appreciates your gift, a little bit of research on your behalf is necessary to identify the right charity. 

For example, according to The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), during the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the main household items that were distributed to refugees were blankets, mattresses, personal hygiene kits, water containers, as well as cooking tools. The weather must also be taken into consideration when making a donation. For example, those who live in desert regions may really appreciate a rechargeable fan, while those in the middle of the winter may benefit from portable heaters and winter clothes. Also, keep in mind that all these items might have to be replaced either because refugees leave them behind or because the goods have exceeded their life-span.

When are we most likely to donate household items?

Woman putting folded clothes in donation box

While most charities have a fundraising department that runs fundraising campaigns throughout the year, we are more inclined to willingly help a benevolent organization in the following four situations. 

Donating household items when we move

Family unpacking their moving truck

Moving is a good excuse to donate large items that might cost more to load in the moving van than their purchase price. When home sellers find a real estate agent online on an agent directory like RealEstateAgent.com, they often ask their real estate professional for recommendations regarding the charities who might pick up their furniture. The Salvation Army is usually the first name that comes to their mind, although homeowners do have the option of organizing a garage sale where they can donate certain items. 

Whom should you donate your household item when moving? Start first with your neighbors. If you’ve been a good neighbor, maybe you should invite them over to pick the items that they like. Also, invite your friends over as well. They may have already spotted a nice decoration or a fancy appliance that you don’t want to take with you. Retirement homes and hospice facilities may also benefit from your household items. Before giving to larger organizations, try to exhaust the local charities.

Donating household items during a humanitarian crisis

Red cross volunteer

We all fear natural disasters. And we all can imagine the damages they leave behind. Extreme weather always demands solidarity, compassion and immediate action. Some people have seen the floods washing away all their work or inheritance. Others have seen roofs ripped off by a tornado. Wildfires may reduce anything to ashes. And the last thing that matters in such a situation is how rich or poor the victims have been. In a calamity, we are all humans. 

As humanitarian aid, most charities would appreciate money as donations. But you can still donate household items to those non-profit organizations that are involved in humanitarian emergencies. Among the most reputable organizations are:

  • Oxfam International
  • World Food Programme (WFP)
  • The American Red Cross (ARC)
  • Action Against Hunger (AAH)
  • Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE)

Donating household items before or during holidays

Woman putting articles of clothing in string bag

When the table is overflowing with flowers and the most exquisite food, our hearts are more sensitive and ready to give a hand to those who don’t have the same privilege. During the holidays, generosity is triggered by strong emotions and the gifts are usually higher in value. Also, people have to get rid of old appliances or furniture because they usually set certain holidays as deadlines for various home improvements. For example, when renovating the kitchen, you may want to donate your old stove, the fridge as well as the coffee machine. The New Year’s Eve is also a time for donations when people remember that not everybody will celebrate in style. 

The good Samaritan within us is awakened especially during Christmas. Whether you celebrate or not, it’s impossible not to be absorbed into the spirit of the holiday and become yourself a Santa Claus for someone. It’s the perfect time to donate decorative items that you no longer need around the house, children’s clothes and toys, old Christmas decorations, as well as pieces of furniture, lamps and lighting objects. You may wonder who will really appreciate some old Christmas decorations. Well, think about a nearby florist! They can include them in really fancy Christmas designs.

Donating after spring cleaning

Woman surveying cleaning task

Home maintenance is so demanding sometimes that we never really catch up on all the chores we were supposed to fulfil. So, every year, we schedule a whole day or, in some households, even a full week for cleaning thoroughly and decluttering.

Of course, many associate spring cleaning with the season, and, indeed, spring seems to be a good time to select the household items that can go to charities. You may find children’s clothes, toys, old gadgets, decorations, and many other things.

You may even find canned food that is about to expire, or winter sports equipment you no longer use. So, if you don’t find enough stuff to justify a garage sale, simply donate. It’s the easiest way to make some room in your house.  

Where to donate appliances?

Discarded electronics

If you want to get the latest model release from Apple or another manufacturer, don’t throw away your old gadget! Of course, you may be tempted to sell it in order to recover some of the money. But if some electronics are really outdated, a good option is to donate them or to recycle. Two organizations may help you with this: The Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul.

Salvation Army donations

Salvation army shelves

When you donate appliances or other items to the Salvation Army, the goods arrive in their Family Stores where they are displayed and sold. The money is used to cover the cost of running their Adult Rehabilitation Centers where drug addicts and alcoholics receive help and support with their struggle to change their lifestyle. The cherry on the top is the fact that they will send a truck to pick up your goods, too!

Generosity and tax benefits

Tax return form

Donations are tax-deductible, but donors have to check the status of their charity to make sure it has the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. In order to receive a tax deduction, you must donate money or property to a qualified charity. Diligence is required on your part as well. It’s important to keep a record of all the checks, receipts, or even appraisals that specify the value of your property. When donating household items, though, since they are a non-cash contribution, you must be able to identify the fair market value of the goods, fill in Form 8283, and if the value of the goods is in excess of $500, file it together with your tax return.  

There is joy in giving. So, if you want to make your day better, start by making someone happy. Being generous will give you a sense of fulfillment that nothing else can. Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic in a comment, below.

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