April 08, 2021

10 Places to Donate Besides Goodwill

Hi! This is Jenny from back in December when I shared some ideas on the homebody gift guide. Today, I’m on the opposite side with ideas on where to donate items you no longer need!

In 2020 I was forced to look beyond donating large bags to my local Goodwill. COVID restrictions reduced the dropoff windows and the lines were insane. Meanwhile, I also learned a few things about goodwill operation practices that didn’t sit well with me. Goodwill fills a certain need in our communities, but it is now my last resort when donating items. My main goal whenever donating is ensuring my items end up in the hands of someone who will use them. Ideally, donating the item is preventing that person from purchasing something new.

If you’ve been gathering items for the POP Spring Clean Challenge, here is a list to get you thinking outside the box when donating your own box of items! Here are 10 places to donate beyond thrift stores:

  1. Friends & Family — You never want to become the awkward person trying to offload junk on people, but if you know someone that genuinely would enjoy something — offer it to them! Make sure there is no pressure. Something like “I’m donating all of this today, let me know if anything interests you” could work. Don’t be shy about expanding your circle: a housekeeper, neighbor kids, or nieces/nephews might be on the hunt for a new blouse, shoes, or kitchen appliance.
  2. Local ‘Buy Nothing’ Group — Have you connected with your local Buy Nothing group? You can find yours here. I love giving items away in this group because 1) they move quickly and 2) they are going to someone who is actively looking for used/donated items.
  3. Facebook BST Groups or Marketplace — There are BST groups (Buy, Sell, Trade) for everything on Facebook. They are a great way to connect with people looking for specific items (i.e. Baby Gear, specific clothing brands, etc). Marketplace can work well, especially if you post for free or steeply discounted. Price things to “move” and you’ll be much happier with the options.
  4. Creative Reuse Center — I volunteer at Art Parts in Boulder, and it has introduced me to a whole new world of creative reuse centers! They collect donations specifically that relate to arts, crafts, and all things creative. The store is always buzzing when I’m there, and I think it is a brilliant setup. Google “Creative Reuse Center” in your area to see if one exists!
  5. Women’s Shelter — For safety reasons, most Women’s Shelter locations are not public information, but your local United Way chapter is likely tied in with a few. Check to see if they run donation drives or drop off centers for clothing, baby items, and personal care products.
  6. Dress for Success — Perhaps you have shifted to a WFH uniform that is more casual than your office wear? Dress for Success (locations listed here) collects professional clothing that is then given to other women to support them in upgrading their wardrobe for professional success!
  7. Animal Rescue — Animal shelters are continually on the lookout for old blankets, towels, and even empty prescription bottles! Depending on which animals they shelter, they may also be interested in old pet supplies.
  8. Habitat for Humanity — I have one of these just down the street, and they do a great job! If you have large furniture items, you can donate to one of their thrift stores. Find the closest one here.
  9. Consignment Shops — Consignment shops get a bad rap. I still feel burning embarrassment thinking of high school when I brought in an entire bag of Hollister t-shirts, only to be offered a whopping $3.50. However, now I see these shops as useful. They help me in getting items I no longer want into the hands of someone that will use them! Don’t forget to think beyond the typical Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange. There are also places like Half Price Books and Play It Again Sports. Like Marketplace, the key to a good experience is not planning on making any money, just focus on keeping items out of the landfill.
  10. Recycle It! — For recycling beyond typical cardboard/glass/aluminum, I try to check for local Terracycle collection spots. Several large companies have agreements with TerraCycle where you can send in your trash and it will get recycled and introduced back into the manufacturing chain. An IG follower also cued us in that Nordstrom will help recycle old beauty products! They accept hair care, skin care, and samples (full or empty) and will take care of recycling if for you. Neat!

There are so many other places to donate your items! I’ve given so much to goodwill over the years, but I have found a lot more satisfaction in giving to organizations more directly tied to my community and causes I care about. I’m always looking for more options, so feel free to share your favorites!

Jenny Pate
IG: @jenny.paint

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