Three Etiquette Rules for Donating Goods to Charity

Used clothing donations

Are you interested in learning more about Red Cross clothes donations? Perhaps you assumed American Red Cross donations were reserved for blood, and the concept of Red Cross clothes donations is totally foreign to you.

In fact, not only can you make Red Cross clothes donations, but when you do, everyone wins: When you have more clutter and belongings than your brain feels like it can manage, it triggers a sense of anxiety. Going through your goods to donate clothing that you don’t need or use anymore simultaneously cleans your home gives you a clearer mind (not to mention the sense warm fuzzies you get when you donate clothes to Red Cross). You win.

Meanwhile, when you make Red Cross clothes donations, the Red Cross puts your unneeded goods to good use, literally clothing people in need, or selling it and using the cash to further the good work that Red Cross does. The people who are helped by Red Cross win.

On top of that, by giving your old and unneeded items to people who can make use of them, you give them a second life, and saving them from an untimely ending in a landfill. In other words, when you donate unneeded goods to Red Cross, the entire planet Earth wins.

If you are planning to take our good advice and donate your unneeded items to Red Cross (or any charity that you feel strongly about), make sure you follow these simple etiquette rules to make sure your donation does the most good:

Three Etiquette Rules for Donating Goods to Charity

  1. Group like items together.

    The volunteers and staff who sort through donations to make use for them process hundreds of donations per day. While you might have an idea of what you’ve put in your donation and where the mate to this shoe is and the lid to that bowl is, the volunteers who sort through it are going in blind. If your donation is a mish mash of everything that you’ve hastily thrown together with no rhyme or reason, it’s going to take a great deal of time for them to get it in usable order. When you multiply that effort by the hundreds of donations that staff have to go through every week, you can imagine how much wasted resources go into doing what would take you only a few extra minutes to do yourself.

    When sorting out what you want to donate, simply use a different box when you sort through your kitchen goods than when you get to your closet, so that like items generally end up together. If the item you’re donating involves multiple pieces (such as the shoes we mentioned earlier), use a rubber band or tape to keep them together.

  2. Help the items you donate arrive in one piece.

    Your donation only serves any purpose to the organization you give it to if it works. In fact, if a fragile item breaks in transit to the donation center, everything in the whole box likely will have to be disposed of for safety purposes. Not to mention the hazard it presents to people who have to handle a box that contains broken glass.

    Consider how you package a fragile item when you are moving, and apply similar care to fragile goods that you donate. Make sure to label boxes that contain breakable items “Fragile — handle with care.” Wrap breakable items in news paper or grocery bags, to pad them and prevent them from breaking.

  3. Remove broken or unusable goods.
    While we’re on the subject of broken items, your broken goods generally don’t serve any purpose to the organization you donate it to. If you donate an item that does not work, they have to take the time to dispose of it for you. You pay your trash man for their services; you don’t want to treat a charity as a free trash service. Plug in and turn on electronics before donating them to make sure they work. If your clothing is in such poor shape that it is unusable, consider finding an organization that recycles them rather than a charity like Red Cross that needs them in usable order.

Do you have any other etiquette tips for donating goods? Please share below!

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