Whether you're taking advantage of Amazon's offer to use their boxes to ship , or will be hauling donations yourself to your local thrift, you won't be alone. December 31 is the of the year, with many of us more motivated to finally clear out our closets for a tax break (instead of the life-changing magic promoted by Marie Kondo). For instance, the Salvation Army in Traverse City, Michigan estimates that come this time of year. Though your generosity is always appreciated, there are a few things many thrift stores won't accept — and donating these items end up costing these organizations precious money. Here's what to think twice about before donating.
Expiration dates, recalls and the possibility of the car seat having been in a crash has lead many thrift stores to say no to this donation. Though you can find some charities that take recently-purchased car seats, you should probably plan on recycling your old one for safety's sake. has a list of organizations that offer recycling programs for car seats, along with how to prep your car seat for recycling.
That pile of nature magazines might be in great shape, but they're likely not the best fit for your thrift store. ( in NYC does not accept these, along with other dated materials like old travel guides and textbooks that are over a year old.) Instead, recycle the magazines, or look for charities that use magazines for things like collage projects, like the .
Yes, good books are a welcome donation for most thrift stores, but keep in mind that they do take up a lot of shelf space. If you have a small library's worth of donations, it might be better to seek out another recipient of your generosity. For example, most public libraries have Friends groups who can use large donations for their book sales, which puts money back into your community — funding not just the library, but also many services and events that benefit you and your neighbors.
While some thrifts (like in Colorado and in California) offer e-waste recycling, others have to pay for the proper disposal of outdated electronics. In this case, you're better off finding a proper e-waste recycling service.
Some charities accept furniture made of this lightweight material, which is often used in inexpensive designs. Others, like the , won't accept particle board furniture. It's difficult to repair, and often breaks during transportation.
Whether it's an heirloom that you're mentally ready to let go of, or you've just given up on your dreams of being able to play "Piano Man" for your friends, a piano is a tricky thing to donate. Few thrift stores (such as in Pennsylvania) will accept them, but many will not since they're , and can be slow to sell. Instead, look for a charity specializing in finding new homes for old pianos, like , which matches pianos to budding musicians in need and to churches. While you'll still have to cover moving costs, these can also be written off.
You probably know not to donate a chair with broken legs, but a chair with a stained cushion might make your donation pile. After all, it's still intact, right? Wrong. is a no-go for most charities, who have to then spend extra money to properly dispose of it — which takes much-needed money away from their causes.
A caveat for those motivated by the idea of someone less fortunate being able to enjoy those never-worn designer jeans: While thrift stores will happily sell high-end items, they might charge a premium. The money does go to a great place, but if you wanted the item in question to go directly to someone who might not be able to afford the item, or other charity.