Can you donate anything?
October 15, 2008 10:30 AM   Subscribe

DonationFilter – Can you donate anything?

My wife and I often donate. We have donated a car, several appliances, more clothing than a single family should even own, money, and lots of time. We have several large boxes full of stuff we no longer use but don’t want to throw away. These things vary from dishes and dolls to CD cases for your car.

Most of the items are worth less than $10 to me but might be worth more to someone else that could use them.

I assume we can donate this stuff, however, I don’t know to whom we can donate it to.

Does anyone know who/where we can give this stuff to? It does not have to be a place that gives us a tax credit either. Additionally, we live in Utah.

posted by birdlips to Human Relations (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Goodwill? Salvation Army?
posted by amro at 10:37 AM on October 15, 2008

Try Freecycle.
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 10:38 AM on October 15, 2008

I don't think Utah has Goodwill stores, but isn't there something similar (I think it's called Deseret Industries?) that serves the same purpose? Here is their website.
posted by itchie at 10:40 AM on October 15, 2008

I always call the Vietnam Veterans. They come pick it up. Plus you can schedule online.
posted by radioamy at 10:43 AM on October 15, 2008

Nthing Freecycle. That goes directly person-to-person.

Or, if there is a theater company or other arts organization near you, check with them. New York City has an organization called Materials For The Arts that often takes in-kind donations of "stuff" -- everything from furniture to office supplies -- that arts institutions can claim. Even if you can't think of an immediate use for something, some arts program will (a theater company I work with renovated its performance space, and all the chairs in the house originally were part of some college classroom somewhere). Check with any arts organizations.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:45 AM on October 15, 2008

Big Sisters accepts things like that here.
posted by robinpME at 10:45 AM on October 15, 2008

I bet a local women's shelter would love any household items like dishes. Women leaving abusive situations often can't take much with them, and when they leave the shelter and set up a new place, it helps if they don't have to buy all the replacement items.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:57 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

A pet shelter would be happy to have old towels, blankets, newspapers.

Some organizations take what you donate it and sell it to people who buy odd lots and ship it overseas where they sell it to the poorest of the poor profit. If this bothers you, you might want to see what they do with it.

Seconding homeless shelters for toys, CDs and household goods.
posted by clarkstonian at 11:03 AM on October 15, 2008

You may not have charity shops in the same way that we do in the UK, but you do seem to have thrift stores; maybe call any of these in your area to see if they'd want your stuff. Even if it turns out the only place that wants them is an organisation whose beliefs you don't share, remember that the people who'll be buying your stuff don't necessarily share those beliefs either, they just want some cheap dishes.

It'd probably be easier to get rid off a load of stuff all at once to a shop than by freecycling it, but if you're not in a hurry, you'd know that anything you do get rid of through freecycle is going directly to someone who wants it, rather than potentially sitting in storage or ending up in the landfill.
posted by Lebannen at 11:23 AM on October 15, 2008

Craigslist has a "free" category. I've been able to give away several items around the same price range that way.
posted by Mr. X at 11:24 AM on October 15, 2008

Keep in mind that when you "donate" a car, large appliance, etc., usually the charity is either auctioning them off or selling them for parts to convert your donation to cash. Even with donated clothing, much of it is sold to third world (for-profit) redistributors or to the rag trade. You could do that too, using Craigslist or eBay. But there are many places that take donations of small items and you have some good suggestions.

For things like used dolls, dishes, and cd cases you are really best off offering them for free somehow. These are things least needed/wanted at Goodwills and thrift stores. But Freecycle or Craigslist make good places to offer them. In my neighborhood, you can often just set everything at the curb in a box with a "Free" sign and find it all gone in a few hours. If your goal is to keep things out of the waste stream and help your objects find someone who can use them, giving them away for free is the easiest thing to do. If your goal is to help a charity, though, cash donations are better than castoff low-value items, which they have to use resources to process.
posted by Miko at 11:35 AM on October 15, 2008

You could do that too, using Craigslist or eBay.

Durr. By "that" I meant convert to cash, not sell to a third world redistributor.
posted by Miko at 11:39 AM on October 15, 2008

You might note that items that you dispose of on FreeCycle and Craigslist are not generally tax deductible unless the recipient is a legal charity. You cannot deduct time and services donated, but you can deduct related expenses such as car mileage.
posted by JackFlash at 11:55 AM on October 15, 2008

I would check with non-profit organizations. Locally here, the Diabetes Association takes used stuff to thrift stores and sells it to raise money. The service is handy and they usually pick the stuff up.
posted by scabrous at 12:49 PM on October 15, 2008

Habitat for Humanity takes all sorts of things for their ReStore operation; when I change out lightfixtures and such if the old one is still usable but they take all sorts of things for the home like small appliances, paintings, and such. They have at least one Utah location.
posted by TedW at 1:00 PM on October 15, 2008

I'm in Utah and we usually donate all sorts of random stuff to Deseret Industries. It seems like they'll accept just about anything you can think of, and they will give you a donation receipt. You can just pull up to one of the loading docks at any of their thrift stores and their workers will unload your donations from your car. I think you can also arrange for pick-up service if you have large items you don't want to move. If you're in the Salt Lake area there are several stores around the valley.
posted by lbo at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2008

The ultimate donation place is at the end of your driveway/at the curb/on your front lawn with a big "FREE" sign on it.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:34 PM on October 15, 2008

I do what Squirrel does with large/interesting items - side of the road. The rest goes to goodwill or similar.

Note: if you live in a certain type of town (cough cough college) and put it by the road it might be lit on fire.
posted by Acer_saccharum at 2:37 PM on October 15, 2008

Yes, you can donate anything! But who you give it to depends on who you want to benefit from your donations.

Freecycle is great for large items that would be a pain to get to a charity (old sofas etc), but it has been known for freecyclers to pick up stuff and then sell it on ebay (which is so not the intention of freecycle!) so if you go down this route, you may want to choose who you give stuff to rather than the first "caller". Also means you have to be around for people to pick up stuff, which if you've got lots of things, is a bit impractical.

Best option (especially for lots of low value goods), is find a couple of local charities whose goals you support and give them a call. Some of them may sell them on (but the proceeds go to the charity) and some may give them directly to people who need them. Most charities that do this kind of thing will be happy to pick up (or at least you could do one trip), which minimises the effort on your part.

Your generosity will be appreciated.
posted by finding.perdita at 4:44 PM on October 15, 2008

I had never heard of Deseret Industries until this post. I asked a couple friends about it and they have used them and confirmed they are a reputable company who often gives to single mother families and children. Their drop off centers are close to where I live and have great hours. That's exactly what we are looking for. Thanks for everyone's help... Ask comes through once again!
posted by birdlips at 8:18 AM on October 16, 2008

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