How to Donate to a Thrift Store
As well as wanting to do our bit to save the planet, many of us look at donating to our local thrift store as the perfect opportunity to get rid of all the items we no longer want cluttering up our home. Table lamps with broken cables and shoes that let in the rain can quite easily find their way into the thrift store donation sack. But the buck has to stop somewhere, and, if you’re giving away items that have seen much better days, it’s probably going to be with a slightly exasperated sorter at the donation center rather than with a satisfied thrift store customer. While donating may seem relatively easy and straightforward, sometimes common sense can get overlooked in our attempts to do the right thing – be it for others, or for ourselves. The following tips should help anyone who’s considering donating to their local thrift store.
First, think about whether you would be comfortable giving the item you’re donating to a relative or friend. If you wouldn’t, then don’t put it in the donation sack. Thrift stores only sell gently used items, so anything that has very little or no life left in it should be dumped. When it comes to items of clothing, don’t donate any garments that have one or more buttons missing or broken or missing zippers. Similarly, if an item of clothing is “bobbled” or has holes in it, then it’s unlikely anyone will buy it as it’ll be beyond repair. If unsure, ask yourself if you would buy the item you’re donating – and answer honestly! If the answer’s no, then don’t donate it. Wash all items of clothing before donating (and check the pockets), and wipe clean all items such as electrical goods and furniture (e.g. tables, chairs).
Know which stores in your area sell which items. For example, if one store specializes in selling furniture, then obviously that’s the store to which you should donate that old book case you no longer want. If it’s a very large item, call the store beforehand to discuss how to get it there. Many of the bigger thrift stores operate a collection service for larger items. However, resources may be limited at smaller thrift stores, so don’t take it for granted that your larger items will be collected.
Always check first to find out if your thrift store takes what you want to donate. Don’t assume that it will take all items. While most stores take items of clothing, some thrift stores don’t accept items such as mattresses or exercise equipment. In addition, some thrift stores have guidelines for the donation of certain items such as computers. Again, it’s worth checking with your local thrift store before delivering your donations or arranging collection.
If donating smaller items, pack them in plastic bags or cardboard boxes labeled accordingly.
You can claim tax relief on donated items if the thrift store to which you’re donating is a federally approved charitable organization. If you want to claim tax relief against your donated items, get a tax receipt at the time of donation. The tax receipt will show the organization/store name, physical address, phone number, and will carry confirmation of its approved charitable status. It’s up to you to document the value of the items you’ve donated though: the larger thrift stores produce lists of accepted items and their relevant value to help you with this process.
Donating to a thrift store means you’re making a difference to the lives of many people. It’s also a great way to recycle your (not too) old and unwanted goods. Take a little time when packing up your next donation and everyone will benefit.