When you're decluttering and organizing your home, you're bound to find some items you might like to donate. Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds consumers to do research before they make a donation.
Between thrift shops, drop-off bins and collection trucks that go through neighborhoods, it is easy to get rid of unwanted items. If you care about a charitable benefit your goods might provide, you'll need to know to whom you are donating. Both charities and for-profit companies will accept your items.
There are organizations that will accept small items and those that will accept large donations like vehicles and boats. Knowing how your donation is going to be used is important if you are looking to write off the donation for tax purposes.
You should know how much money the charity is going to receive for your donation. If you find that very little money is going to go to the cause that you want to help, you might want to consider a different charity.
Here are some tips to consider when donating items:
• Do your research. If donating to a thrift store, request information on how their sales will contribute to charity. Not all thrift stores are nonprofit or the benefit they pass on to partner charities may be a small fraction of the item's sale price. If a thrift shop is affiliated with a charity, you can ask the charity about the arrangements they have with the thrift stores. If dropping items off at a donation bin or collection truck, pay attention to posted details. Look for the name of the benefitting organization, a clear mission statement, a description of how the sale of donations will fund the mission and what percentage of sales are contributed, as well as contact information for questions and a tax receipt.
• Verify the need. Most charities accepting donations offer guidelines on what they can and can't accept. Don't assume charities welcome all secondhand items.
• Itemize before donating. If itemizing your donations on your taxes, note that the IRS requires goods to be in good used condition. Charities will not assign value to the goods you donate – that is your responsibility. Before dropping off your donation, take inventory of your haul and record it on the donation receipt the organization provides. When non-cash contributions total more than $500, you will need to submit the IRS Form 8283 with your tax return. For more deductibility information, consult an accountant or visit www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc506.
• Don't donate junk. Dumping items with no use with the thought that "someone can use them" is not a charitable act. Disposing of goods that cannot be sold or recycled costs charities money.
• Consult BBB. If you need more information about a business or nonprofit, check BBB.org for a BBB Business Profile or BBB Charity Review.
Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.