Photo: Flickr/Mike Mozart
Have you ever put together a Goodwill donation and wondered whether you’re doing it right?
"Do they even take these items? Should I put them all in the same box?" Should I take a receipt?"
Have no fear, we’ve put together some top-notch tips and answered your questions to make sure your next donation is a breeze for both you and your local Goodwill store.
Making a Goodwill donation offers convenience for you, helps other people and is good for the planet. Goodwill stores across the country accept donations of clothes and household items to help fund job training, employment placement services and other community programs.
Generally speaking, there are no firm rules when it comes to getting your donation ready. But while “anything goes” is okay, there are some tips you can apply to help the attendants and sorters at your Goodwill drop-off center get through your donation quickly and safely.
1. If items belong together (think dishes and shoes), donate them together
Brooke Lochore, VP of public relations at Goodwill Big Bend, recommended wrapping a rubber band around pairs of shoes to keep them from getting separated and packing items that belong together in the same box or bag. It’s also helpful to keep items like clothes together, rather than randomly mixed throughout your donation.
2. You can help keep fragile items intact
If you have fragile items, hand them directly to an attendant or package them carefully and label them as fragile to avoid accidental breakage. Broken items lose their value and are tougher to re-sell. Glass items should never be placed in unattended donation bins, as broken glass can be a safety hazard for Goodwill employees.
3. Use a reusable container to deliver your donation
Bags and cardboard are recycled by most Goodwill facilities, but if you’re looking for a more sustainable method of transport, Goodwill welcomes reusable bags, boxes or even laundry baskets to be used for donations. Just take your container back home with you once your donation has been sorted for a zero-waste option.
4. Don’t over-pack
Whether you’re using boxes or bags to deliver your donation, resist the urge to over-pack them. Items are more likely to be damaged accidentally, and heavy boxes and bags require extra hands for processing. As Lochor simply put it; “Too heavy, two people”.
5. When in doubt, donate
Value is the primary factor in sorting donations. Goodwill can profit the most from items in good-use condition or better.
That said, not all items received are good candidates for the sales floor. Once received, all items donated items are evaluated by Goodwill staff. Rest assured that if an item cannot be resold at Goodwill, in many cases, it may be sold to a recycler for proper disposal.
Clothes and linens, in particular, are received in varying states of quality. Fabric that is ripped or stained can’t be sold in stores but may be sold as bulk salvage on an international rag market. This alternative keeps the material from going to landfills, and offers additional income for Goodwill toward its services. There are now post-consumer recycling markets for many items like books, leather, shoes, glass, cardboard and even stuffed animals.