The plants are green, the birds are chirping, and the sun is shining (most days, at least), which means it is past due for you to begin the annual spring clean. One of the most important steps of spring cleaning is finally ridding your home of unnecessary clutter, which many include outgrown toys, untrendy clothes, dysfunctional gadgets, and other generally unused possessions. Unsurprisingly, donating is the fastest and most beneficial way to declutter ― but you may want to learn a bit more about the process before you start handing over your old stuff. I know that if I am not going to the effort of having a garage sale I want to be sure it is going somewhere that it will be used and not just sitting in a pile.
What You Can Donate
The answer to that question is actually quite simple: anything. Nearly every item in your house, big and small, new and used, functional and broken, will be gladly accepted by a charitable organization. Essentially, this means your “trash” pile created during your spring clean should be exceedingly small, while your “donate” pile should grow larger and larger.
However, it is important to note that not every charity will accept any and all items. For example, your local charity thrift shop might have all sorts of odds and ends ― clothing, electronics, toys, furniture ― but it probably prefers items in gently used, working condition. Thus, while you are forming your “donate” pile, you might try to separate items into categories for different charitable groups.
Who You Can Donate to
Though every organization appreciates financial contributions, certain donated items directly contribute to charitable goals. It may take less time and effort to drop everything off at a thrift shop, but you will do more good finding organizations with particular needs and donating appropriately. Plus, you might get more satisfaction from your contributions knowing that needy individuals are putting your items to good use.
Children’s organizations benefit most from toys and games, while women’s shelters are usually desperate for hygiene items like shampoos and towels. Meanwhile, there are some especially focused groups that take in complicated donations few other organizations are equipped to handle, as Boat Angel does with junker cars and boats. If you have time, you should strive to donate specifically to local groups looking for the items you have on hand.
Where You Should Donate
Ideally, an organization that takes donations works to better the community by serving those in need. Unfortunately, plenty of donations are used only for individual profit. For example, plenty of book drop bins located in parking lots are not as charitable as they claim, as Marketplace reports. It is imperative that you know your chosen organizations are true not-for-profit charities before you hand over the spoils of your spring cleaning.
Every year, researchers and journalists find dozens of so-called charities that actually contribute insignificant portions of their profits to those in need. To avoid perpetuating false charity, you should steer clear of these institutions:
- Kids Wish Network
- The Cancer Fund of America
- Firefighter’s Charitable Foundation
- National Veterans Service Fund
- Committee for Missing Children
- Youth Development Fund
- Woman to Woman Cancer Foundation
There are a handful of ways to ensure you contribute to an organization that is truly working toward a greater good. The Internet is an invaluable tool for donors; websites like Charity Navigator not only help you to find appropriate organizations to support but also provide ratings and research so you can eliminate shady options. Another good indication of a worthwhile group is the opportunity for a tax deduction for your contribution, which shows the group is certified as a charity by the government.
Why You Should Donate
Donating takes time and energy: You must deliberate whether an item should be donated; you must locate an organization to take your items; and you usually must drop your items off in person. However, the benefits of donating make all that effort more than worthwhile. Studies indicate that the act of donation activates pleasure sensors in the brain usually only accessible by illicit drugs, all the while inhibiting the creation of stress hormones. People who donate are often better educated on social issues, which helps them understand social and political issues of the day. Finally, donors tend to be more satisfied with their lives and their communities, which means some mindful spring cleaning could bring you more happiness in the lightening, brightening season.