Where to Donate Your Stuff: 101 Places Your Clutter Can Do Good

In my book, The Joy of Less, I talk about how it’s infinitely easier to declutter when your stuff can serve a good cause:

“Something that’s been sitting in your house, unused and unloved, may bring a great deal of joy to, or fill the genuine need of, someone else. Make their day, and give yourself a pat on the back. Knowing that you’re doing good can make it much easier to part with your stuff.”

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a BIG list of places to donate your discards. Of course, from an environmental standpoint, it’s best to keep your castoffs in your community; the fewer things we ship around the globe, the better. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to check out local options for your unwanted items: like churches, hospitals, schools, libraries, animal shelters, homeless shelters, women’s shelters, halfway homes, food banks, senior centers, day cares, prisons, and charity shops.

However, if you can’t find a good home for your stuff nearby, or you want to support a specific cause, this list will provide you with plenty of resources.

The list focuses on charities based in the United States, the home of most of my readers. (I encourage those of you from other countries to add your nation’s resources in the Comments.)

Furthermore, to make the list as relevant as possible, I’ve concentrated on organizations that have dropoff locations throughout the US, or accept donations by mail. Scores of charities operate on a regional, state, or locale-specific basis; for brevity’s sake they’re not included here, but please tell us about your local faves in the Comments.

I’ve organized the charities according to what they need (General Goods, Clothing, Electronics, Baby Items, Craft Supplies, etc.), and included a sentence about what they do. Wherever possible, I’ve linked directly to the organization’s donation or “wish list” page, to save you from hunting through their website for details.

What you can do: share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, GoogleBuzz, and anywhere else you see fit. I think it can serve as an invaluable resource, and great source of inspiration, as we clear the clutter from our homes!

So, here we go — my BIG list of 101 places that need your stuff more than you do:

GENERAL GOODS

Goodwill
What they do: Help people with barriers to employment learn the skills to find competitive employment
What they need: Clothing, electronics, appliances, furniture, and more

Salvation Army
What they do: Provide community programs, homeless services, rehabilition, disaster relief, and other assistance to those in need
What they need: Clothing, furniture, household goods, sporting equipment, books, electronics, and more

Vietnam Veterans of America
What they do: Help Vietnam-era veterans and their families
What they need: Clothing, baby items, housewares, electronics, small appliances, tools, and just about anything else

Volunteers of America
What they do: Support at-risk youth, the frail elderly, men and women returning from prison, homeless individuals and families, people with disabilities, and those recovering from addictions
What they need: Clothing, furniture, toys, and household goods for their thrift stores

Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation
What they do: Provide needed items to the poverty-stricken Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota
What they need: From school, sewing, crafts, sporting, baby, and office supplies, to toiletries, clothing, Christmas gifts, holiday items, bed, bath and kitchen linens, cold weather gear, crayons and more (see website for specific needs)

Operation Give
What they do: Bring hope and solutions to the deprived and disconnected people of the world, in many cases where the US military operates.
What they need: Toys, school supplies, art supplies, sports equipment, and more (Fedex provides FREE shipping from anywhere in the US to their warehouse)

The Help Kenya Project
What they do: Provide Kenya’s students with science, English, and computer skills to break the cycle of poverty
What they need: Used computers, books, clothing, sports equipment, and other supplies

Cause USA
What they do: Send gift packs to wounded military personnel and their families
What they need: Playing cards, handheld electronic games, current magazines, batteries, travel-size toiletries, and more

Forgotten Soldiers Outreach
What they do: Send care packages to deployed soldiers
What they need: Travel-size toiletries, packaged food, flea collars, batteries, tube socks, envelopes, trash bags, and more

CLOTHING, SHOES, AND ACCESSORIES

Dress for Success
What they do: Provide interview suits, confidence boosts, and career development to low-income women in over 75 cities worldwide
What they need: Women’s business suits and other professional apparel, footwear, and accessories

Career Gear
What they do: Provide underserved job-seeking men with training, career counseling, interviews, and professional clothing
What they need: Men’s suits, dress shirts, ties, shoes, briefcases, and other interview-appropriate clothing

The Women’s Alliance
What they do: Provide professional attire and career skills training to low income women and their families seeking self sufficiency
What they need: Women’s business clothing and professional accessories

Sew Much Comfort
What they do: Provide adaptive clothing to wounded service men and women in military hospitals (specially designed to look like normal attire while accommodating their injuries)
What they need: Basketball shorts, boxers, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and PJ bottoms; also twill, flannel, and woven shirting fabric

Clothes4Souls
What they do: Provide clothes to people around the world who are in desperate need
What they need: New or gently-worn clean clothing

Planet Aid
What they do: Provide clothing to people in developing nations, and fund community, health, agricultural, and vocational programs
What they need: Gently-used, unsoiled, functional clothing and shoes

Soles4Souls
What they do: Distribute shoes to people in need in over 125 countries
What they need: All types of new or gently-worn shoes: athletic, running, dress, sandals, pumps, heels, work boots, cleats, dance, and flip flops

Diamonds for Dreams
What they do: Grant wishes for terminal breast cancer patients
What they need: Diamonds, estate jewelry, and other specialty jewelry items

Indigo Rescue
What they do: Assist county animal shelters, and rehabilitate pets and place them in adoptive homes
What they need: Jewelry (for fundraising events)

Animal Guardian Network
What they do: Rescue and place homeless pets with loving families, and assist low-income seniors and financially disadvantaged individuals with their pet care
What they need: Gently-used designer handbags to sell in their ReBag Boutique

WEDDING AND PROM DRESSES

Brides Against Breast Cancer
What they do: Advance the awareness of breast cancer, and operate a wish-granting service enabling patients to make special memories with their loved ones
What they need: New and used wedding gowns from 2005 to present

Brides Across America
What they do: Provide wedding gowns to military brides in need
What they need: New or gently-used bridal gowns, not more than three years old

DonateMyDress.org
What they do: Provide special occasion dresses to girls who cannot afford them for prom, sweet 16, quinceañera or formal events
What they need: Prom and special occasion dresses for young women

The Glass Slipper Project
What they do: Collect formal dresses and accessories and provide them, free of charge, to Chicago-area students who are unable to purchase their own prom attire
What they need: New and almost-new prom dresses and accessories

BABY AND CHILDREN’S ITEMS

Project Night Night
What they do: Reduce the trauma of homeless children with Night Night Packages of childhood comforts
What they need: Stuffed animals, blankets, and children’s books

SAFE (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies)
What they do: Collect items to give to children in emotional, traumatic, or stressful situations (like fires, illness, abuse, homelessness, and natural disasters)
What they need: New or gently-used stuffed animals

Loving Hugs
What they do: Send stuffed animals to children living in war zones, refugee camps, orphanages, hospitals, and natural disaster areas
What they need: New or very gently-used stuffed animals

Project Smile
What they do: Provide emergency responders with children’s comfort items, to help ease their pain and fear
What they need: New or gently-used stuffed animals, children’s books, unused coloring books, new crayons

Newborns in Need
What they do: Provide care necessities to local agencies and hospitals serving premature, ill, or impoverished newborns
What they need: Baby clothing, toys, and other items; also fabric, yarn, thread, and other supplies

Touching Little Lives
What they do: Provide necessity items to needy infants in Ohio
What they need: Baby clothing, booties, toys, blankets and other items; also flannel, thread, batting, and yarn

Ronald McDonald House
What they do: Provide a “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost
What they need: New toys, food, and household products; see website for details

ELECTRONICS

World Computer Exchange
What they do: Provide used computers and technology to schools, libraries, community centers & universities in developing countries
What they need: Computers, laptops, printers, hard drives, peripherals, software, and more

National Cristina Foundation
What they do: Provide computer technology to people with disabilities or economic disadvantages, to enable them to lead more independent and productive lives
What they need: Desktops, notebooks, printers, peripherals, software, and more

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
What they do: Work to eliminate domestic violence, and empower battered women and children
What they need: Used cell phones

Games for Heroes
What they do: Provide emotional support to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
What they need: Handheld video game devices like Gameboys, PSPs, and Nintendo DSs

Get-Well Gamers Foundation
What they do: Bring video game systems to children’s hospitals, for entertainment and pain management
What they need: Video games, systems, controllers, and other accessories

Computer Recycling Center
What they do: Place computers in public charity and community programs through Computers & Education™, and recycle unusable items to keep them out of landfills
What they need: Computers, laptops, home electronics

HopeLine from Verizon
What they do: Provide refurbished phones to local domestic violence organizations
What they need: No-longer-used wireless phones, batteries and accessories in any condition from any wireless service provider

Cell Phones for Soldiers
What they do: Use the money from recycling cell phones to purchase calling cards for troops in need
What they need: Used cell phones

iOS Device Recycling Program
What they do: Bring high technology mobile devices (installed with educational apps) into classrooms
What they need: iPads, iPhones, iPod Touches

Fireside International
What they do: Use mobile devices to advance education in Haiti
What they need: iPods, iPads, iPhones

OFFICE AND SCHOOL SUPPLIES

iLoveSchools
What they do: Match America’s school teachers with donations of classroom resources
What they need: A variety of school supplies, materials, and equipment

Swap4Schools
What they do: Match donors’ “haves” with schools’ “wants”
What they need: Books, movies, and other items specifically requested by educators

The GrayMatters Foundation
What they do: Support and empower people impacted by brain tumors through outreach, awareness, and assistance programs
What they need: Stickers, postage stamps, blank or encouragement cards and envelopes

Muscular Dystrophy Association
What they do: Fund worldwide research efforts and nationwide programs to aid those with neuromuscular diseases and their families
What they need: Computers, software, office equipment, furniture, and supplies for use in local offices

Develop Africa
What they do: Provide books, school and teaching supplies, scholarships, and job-related training in Africa
What they need: A wide variety of school and office supplies; see website for details

Pens for Kids
What they do: Send pens to kids in Africa to assist them with getting an education
What they need: New and used pens of every type, color, size, shape, and quantity

BOOKS

International Book Project
What they do: Promote education and literacy by sending quality used books overseas
What they need: Textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, vocational books, children’s books, and more

Global Literacy Project
What they do: Foster community-based literacy initiatives throughout the world
What they need: “We are currently most in need of Pre-K to 12th grade reading books as well as Math and science textbooks.”

Darien Book Aid
What they do: Send books in response to specific requests from Peace Corps volunteers, libraries and schools all over the world
What they need: A variety of new and gently-used books. Please call before shipping, to make sure your donations fit their needs

Books for Africa
What they do: Help create a culture of literacy by shipping books to libraries and classrooms in Africa
What they need: A wide variety of new and gently-used books, generally 15 years old or newer; details on website

The Bridge of Books Foundation
What they do: Provide books to children in low-income families, particularly through foster family agencies, homeless shelters, underfunded schools, and neighborhood centers
What they need: New and used children’s books, from preschool through high school

Books Through Bars
What they do: Send quality reading and educational material to prisoners, thereby promoting successful community re-integration
What they need: A variety of new and gently-used books; details on website. Please email before shipping.

Books for Soldiers
What they do: Facilitate the direct donation of books to soldiers serving overseas
What they need: Books and magazines (as well as CDs, DVDs, and video games) requested by soldiers

BookEnds.org
What they do: Place books in inner-city schools, youth centers, homeless shelters, family literacy centers, after-school enrichment programs, children’s group homes, and juvenile detention facilities
What they need: Quality, gently-used children’s books appropriate for infants to 18 years of age

Better World Books
What they do: Sell books to help fund literacy programs worldwide
What they need: A wide variety of books; see website for details

DVDS AND CDS

Kidflicks.org
What they do: Create movie libraries for children’s hospitals and pediatric wards across the US
What they need: DVDs

DVDs4Vets
What they do: Provide DVDs to VA facilities for veterans in rehabilitation
What they need: DVDs and portable DVD players

DiscsForDogs.org
What they do: Sell used DVDs and CDs, and donate the proceeds to the SPCA
What they need: DVDs and CDs

Musicians On Call
What they do: Provide hospitals with complete CD libraries and players for patient use
What they need: New or gently-used CDs and new, unused personal CD players

ART AND CRAFT SUPPLIES

The CUREchief Foundation
What they do: Bring hope to cancer patients, and people with other conditions that cause hair loss
What they need: Cotton, flannel, or polar fleece fabric

Care Wear
What they do: Provide handmade baby items to premature infants in neonatal intensive care units
What they need: Yarn, flannel, broadcloth, and other fabrics suitable for children’s toys, apparel, and blankets/quilts

A Little Something
What they do: Help refugee women in Denver, CO become self-sufficient through crafting
What they need: Leftover or unwanted beads or jewelry-making supplies, weaving fiber, knitting needles, and natural fiber yarn

Beads of Courage
What they do: Provide arts-in-medicine for children with serious illnesses
What they need: All types of beads, of any color and shape

The Mending Hearts Project
What they do: Assist low income families, teen and single mothers, and mothers with premature infants in neonatal intensive care units
What they need: “Donations of all handcrafted items, yarn, and sewing supplies are graciously accepted.”

Afghans Etc for Charity
What they do: Brighten the lives of children with cancer and other medical issues
What they need: Crochet and knitting supplies, and handcrafted items

Binky Patrol
What they do: Distribute homemade blankets (sewn, knitted, crocheted, or quilted) to children in need
What they need: Fabric, yarn, batting, and finished blankets

The Knitting Connection
What they do: Distribute supplies to volunteers to make hats, mittens, scarves, sweaters, afghans, baby booties, layette sets, and Christmas stockings for needy children
What they need: Yarn, knitting needles, knitting books, and finished knitted/crocheted items

Many Arms Reach You
What they do: Collect and donate knitted, quilted, or crocheted blankets to disadvantaged mothers and their children
What they need: Yarn

The Mother Bear Project
What they do: Provide hand-knit and crocheted bears to children with HIV/AIDS in emerging nations
What they need: Yarn, knitting needles, PolyFil, postage stamps, packing tape

Knots of Love
What they do: Provide crocheted and knitted caps for chemo patients and others facing life-threatening illnesses and injuries
What they need: Yarn

Made 4 Aid
What they do: Sell handmade items on Etsy to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders
What they need: A variety of handmade items, as well as arts and crafts materials

Inklude Studio
What they do: Provide a creative environment for adult artists with autism and other developmental challenges
What they need: A variety of fabric, art supplies, photography and computer equipment

ArtBridge Houston
What they do: Provide an arts program for children in homeless shelters
What they need: Art supplies including paper, colored pencils, watercolor paints, paintbrushes, stencils, markers, etc.

Children’s Healing Art Project
What they do: Create art classes for children in Portland’s children’s hospitals
What they need: A variety of arts supplies; see website for wish list

SPORTS EQUIPMENT

Sports Gift
What they do: Provide sports programs and equipment to impoverished and disadvantaged children throughout the world
What they need: A wide variety of sports equipment; see website for details

One World Running
What they do: Provide running shoes to those in need in the US and throughout the world
What they need: New and near-new running shoes

Bikes for the World
What they do: Donate bicycles to developing countries, so that individuals can get to work or school, or provide health and education services to low-income rural people
What they need: Any serviceable adult or children’s bicycles, as well as bike parts, tools, and accessories

Bicycles for Humanity
What they do: Send bicycles to developing countries, to empower disadvantaged people through improved access to food and water, employment, healthcare, education and social opportunities
What they need: Bicycles, as well as bike parts, tools, clothing, helmets, tires, and tubes

Opportunity Through Baseball
What they do: Provide baseball equipment to impoverished children in the Dominican Republic and around the world
What they need: Baseballs, gloves, mitts, batts, helmets, and more

PeacePassers
What they do: Distribute soccer supplies to communities in need, to empower youth and maximize hope
What they need: Soccer gear like balls, shoes, jerseys, shorts, and socks

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation
What they do: Keep music alive in our schools and communities by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs
What they need: Gently-used band and orchestral instruments

Marching Mountains
What they do: Supply public school band programs in distressed counties in Appalachia with donated new and used musical instruments
What they need: Musical instruments in good working condition (mainly for marching and concert bands)

Operation Happy Note
What they do: Send musical instruments to deployed service men and women throughout the world
What they need: New or gently-used guitars, violins, mandolins, banjos, keyboards, horns of any kind, harmonicas, and even bagpipes

Education Through Music
What they do: Promote the integration of music into the curricula of disadvantaged schools in order to enhance students’ academic performance and general development
What they need: A variety of musical instruments; see website for details

EYEGLASSES

Unite for Sight
What they do: Support eye care for patients living in extreme poverty in developing countries
What they need: New reading glasses, distance glasses, and sunglasses

One Sight
What they do: Provide free vision care and eyewear to people in need around the world (in some countries, a pair of eyewear costs more than a month’s salary)
What they need: 2 million pairs of gently-used eyewear

New Eyes for the Needy
What they do: Send eyeglasses to medical missions and international charitable organizations for distribution to the poor in developing nations
What they need: Eyeglasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, hearing aids

CARS

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Cars for Kids’ Sake
What they do: Provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better
What they need: All types of vehicles, including cars, trucks, SUVs, motor homes, boats, airplanes, farm equipment, and construction equipment

Habitat for Humanity Cars for Homes
What they do: Build and rehabilitate houses for families in need
What they need: Cars, trucks, boats, RVs, motorcycles, and construction equipment

American Diabetes Association
What they do: Strive to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes
What they need: Cars, trucks, trailers, boats, and RVs

National Kidney Foundation Kidney Cars
What they do: Fund public health and professional education, vital patient and community services, organ donation programs and medical research to prevent kidney disease
What they need: Cars, vans, trucks, and boats

National Foundation for Cancer Research
What they do: Support cancer research and public education relating to prevention, earlier diagnosis, better treatments and ultimately, a cure for cancer.
What they need: Cars, trucks, boats, and SUVs

Purple Heart
What they do: Provide a variety of programs for wounded and disabled veterans and their families
What they need: Cars, trucks, RVs, and boats

MISCELLANEOUS

National Furniture Bank
What they do: Provide beds, tables, chairs, and other crucial home furnishings to over 100,000 people in need each year
What they need: Beds, dressers, nightstands, tables, chairs, sofas, lamps, and more

Project C.U.R.E.
What they do: Donate medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and clinics around the world
What they need: New and used medical equipment and supplies, including crutches, wheelchairs, and beds

UNICEF
What they do: Provide humanitarian relief to children around the globe
What they need: Foreign coins and notes

Chemo Angels
What they do: Brighten the lives of those undergoing IV chemo treatment
What they need: Retailer gift cards, valid or expired (can still be used in CA)

TESSA
What they do: Provide safety and counseling to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in El Paso and Teller counties
What they need: Grocery and retailer gift cards, used cell phones

Make-A-Wish Foundation
What they do: Grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions
What they need: Retailer gift cards and gift certificates

St. Jude’s Ranch
What they do: Serve all abused, abandoned, and neglected children and families in a safe, homelike environment
What they need: Used greeting cards

Overseas Coupon Program
What they do: Facilitate the sending of coupons to overseas military personnel and their families
What they need: Manufacturer’s coupons, valid and expired (up to 2 months)


If you’d like to do further research into these (and other charities), please see Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator.

If you prefer to find a charity that’ll pick up your donations, check out DonationTown.

If you know other charities that accept unwanted items, please let us know about them in the Comments. And again, please share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, GoogleBuzz, etc. — I’d like to get this resource out to as many people as possible.

Happy Decluttering, and do some good with those discards!

Remember: when you live with less, you have more to give.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

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