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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Donations Bins: Where's your Clothing Going?

Written by: Taylor Duffy

We've all seen those clothing donations bins, but do you know where your clothes are actually going?

The New York Times reported that although well-intentioned donors might think their clothing is helping people in need, their donations are “often sold in thrift stores or in bulk overseas, with the proceeds going to for-profit entities that can be impossible to trace, or even to contact.” Community residents might consider these bins eyesores, or city law might ban these bins from their streets and sidewalks (they are legal on private property with the owner’s consent). However, the process to remove them from local neighborhoods is often difficult and time-consuming.

According to Gothamist, “The textile-recycling market has become more than a million dollar industry in the United States, and clothing donors unwittingly contribute to it by donating to the illegally-placed bins.” Unfortunately, people believe they’re supporting legitimate non-profits, when in fact they’re giving to for-profit companies. Such a misleading or deceitful set-up is often discouraging to well-meaning donors.

So how can you make sure your donations are going to charities you can trust? 

  • Be sure to only donate clothing and items that are in good used condition, or better. Otherwise, you cannot make the deduction on your taxes, nor can the organization use the item.
  • Bringing your donation to the charity itself is an easy way to ensure your donation is getting to the right people. Organizations such as Goodwill have the locations of their donation bins listed on their website, as well as designated drop-off spots, manned by a non-profit representative that can give you a tax receipt. 
  • Determine the fair market value of the items so you can appropriately deduct the donation on your taxes.
  • Or, you can sell the items you want to get rid of, and donate the money to the charity of your choice. 
See our site for more tips for donating noncash items or to find a charity you can trust.

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MacKay Crookston said...

Also check out giveithub.com/download they offer free pick up of your clothing by a charity that needs it.

Lindalw said...

very good point; I have heard of several unusual uses for clothes and such from just such receptacles. This demonstrates the importance of choosing your donations and causes wisely.