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Donating Dos and Don'ts

Almost every decluttering mission includes a trip or two to a charity to drop off unwanted items. Make the most of your donations with these tips.

Almost every decluttering mission includes a trip or two to a charity to drop off unwanted items. Make the most of your donations with these tips:

  • Do make some calls to find out where your items are most needed; you’ll feel better and have more incentive to purge. Check beyond widely known charities. A local church may have a family in need of furniture, a women’s organization may be seeking office attire for women entering the workforce, or a nursing home may be in need of blankets.
  • Do schedule an appointment if a charity calls to say it will be in your neighborhood — even if you're not sure what you might donate. Pickup services are an ideal no-cost way to get rid of large items, such as an old sofa or dresser. Even if you donate only a few boxes of clothing, you'll have cleared some clutter.
  • Do ask for a receipt, which is needed for tax-deduction purposes. Put all charitable receipts in a folder so they're at your fingertips at tax time. Get a receipt even if you’re not sure if you’ll deduct the donation.
  • Don't donate items that are in poor condition. Otherwise the charity will have to waste its resources in discarding the items.
  • Don't drop off items that the charity might not accept. Find out in advance if the organization takes old computers, treadmills and other unconventional items. Also ask about clothing restrictions; some groups take only in-season clothing.
  • Don't drop off items when the charity is closed, unless a sheltered after-hours drop-off spot is clearly designated. Call in advance to find out if you need to go to a particular entrance; ask what times donations are accepted.

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