Whether you fly with United or not, you can still create a Mileage Plus account and donate miles accrued from flights with any of the Star Alliance carriers (i.e. Continental and US Airways). Simply call United at 800.421.4655 and request that your Mileage Plus miles be transferred into The Salvation Army's account.
Another organization that accepts airline miles, in the form of award tickets, is Room to Read. They use the tickets for designated travelers, which helps to keep their overhead costs low and to direct more of their funds directly to their programs.
(Image by andrewmalone via Flickr, Creative Commons BY-2.0 license)
Did You Know...
In 2010 charitable giving by individuals was 1.77 billion, 73% of the total 0.89 billion.
In descending order, contributions from foundations, bequests, and corporations made up the rest.
Art Supplies (Especially Crayons)
- National Crayon Recycling Program recycles crayons to keep them out of landfills.
- SCARCE Super Crayons Program turns your old crayons into new ones that are used by children with special needs.
If you have any boxes of new crayons that you aren't going to use, donate them to these organizations, which will use them for children's school activities and art therapy programs:
- The Foundation for Coloring Away Pain gives your boxes of 24-count crayons, along with topic-specific coloring books, to displaced children who are dealing with devastating and life-changing events.
- Cradles to Crayons gives your new crayons and art supplies to children up to age 12 who are homeless or live in poor or low-income households.
- Crayons to Computers is a free store for teachers that gives educators your new boxes of crayons and art supplies, to reduce the amount of money they spend from their own pockets to get school supplies for their students.
(Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons)
Donation Town is an online directory that connects donors with children's, faith-based, homeless, medical, veterans, and other charities that offer free local pick-ups of donations (clothes, furniture, household items, toys, etc).
Blankets and Quilts
Project Linus provides "love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer 'blanketeers.'" The organization has local chapters in all 50 states, where you can drop off or send your blankets to be distributed to children in hospitals, shelters, social service agencies, or anywhere that a child might be in need.
If you're already an unofficial "blanketeer," donate your new, handmade and washable blankets of any size. Note that they must also be free of pins and come from smoke-free environments due to allergy reasons.
Wrap Them in Love Foundation collects donated quilts and distributes them to children around the world, so they can be wrapped in love and comfort. In addition to quilts, you can also donate fabric, batting, sewing supplies and, of course, money, to help offset the cost of shipping and supplies. All physical donations should be sent to the foundation's Mt. Vernon, Washington location.
- "As we all know, a quilt is a very special thing. It isn't just a blanket; it has been lovingly created by a real person. A quilter leaves a part of themselves in every quilt they make. The child who receives it will be able to snuggle up in all the love that comes in that quilt." -- Wrap Them in Love Foundation
If you enjoy and have a talent for crocheting, knitting, quilting and sewing, check out scarlettohairy's lens, Charity Programs -- Craft and Give, for lists of charities that welcome donations of your handmade goodies on behalf of the people in need who will receive them.
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- Books for Africa, whose mission is to end the book famine in Africa, create a culture of literacy, and provide the tools of empowerment to the next generation of parents, teachers, and leaders in Africa.
- Books for Soldiers, which helps you get your books, DVDs, games and relief supplies to soldiers overseas. (Application and notarized documentation required.)
- E-Books for Troops (EB4T) donates gently-used Kindles to American troops overseas. Accepted models are the Kindle 2 U.S., Kindle 2 International, Kindle 3G, and Kindle 3 3G; yours must be in good working condition and include the battery charger. If you don't have a Kindle but would like to support this cause, you can donate money that EB4T will use to purchase Amazon Gift Cards, which they include with each Kindle sent.
- Global Literacy Project, which fosters community-based literacy initiatives throughout the world. Please read the Book Donation Guidelines before shipping books to them.
- International Book Project, which distributes books to organizations throughout the world that request them, such as churches, missionary groups, primary and secondary schools, community and school libraries, universities, and the U.S. Peace Corps. You may drop off your books at the organization's Lexington, Kentucky location, or ship them. Please read the book donating guidelines for details.
- Operation Paperback collects and sends gently-used books to American troops deployed overseas, and provides books to military and veterans hospitals located within the U.S. and USO centers at U.S. airport transit points.
- Prison Book Program, which gives books to individual prisoners in the U.S. for personal development during incarceration, in order to reduce the likelihood that a prisoner will return to the prison system.
- Room to Read, which seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.
You Always Have Something to Give
When you think you have nary a thing to donate, read the Favorite Prayers lens and offer a prayer for someone in need.
Dress for Success is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women located in 85 cities across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., the Netherlands and New Zealand. The professional clothing, employment retention programs and ongoing support that they provide to clients symbolize their faith in every woman's ability to be self-sufficient and successful in her career. The clothing donations they accept include:
- Coordinated, contemporary, interview-appropriate skirt and pant suits
- Beautiful, crisp blouses
- Gorgeous blazers and jackets
- Professional shoes
Dress for Success provides this clothing to disadvantaged women returning to or entering the workforce. Each of the organization's clients receives one suit when she has a job interview and additional apparel -- up to a week's worth of clothing -- when she becomes employed.
Similar to Dress for Success, Career Gear is a nonprofit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged men by providing professional attire, a network of support, and career development tools to help men thrive in work and in life. They accept new or gently worn ready-to-wear men's professional and business casual clothing, shoes, accessories and products that are appropriate for a job interview, such as:
- Dress Shirts
- Dress Pants
- New black or brown socks
- Briefcases & portfolios
- New toiletries
- Watches, tie clips & cufflinks
If You're Thinking of Donating Your Car...
Read Charity Navigator's Guide To Donating Your Car first.
Do You Donate?
The National Cristina Foundation provides computer technology and solutions to give people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons the opportunity to lead more independent and productive lives. Your donated computers and other technology equipment are matched to charities, schools and public agencies around the world, who then (generally) pick up the donations from you. You can also drop off equipment at a designated location or ship it to the partner organization. Visit the How to Donate page for additional information.
The World Computer Exchange is a grassroots network of thousands of groups in 71 developing countries, working together to help improve the educational opportunities for more than 1 million youths annually. You can drop off your computer at a local chapter or ship it to the main office in Massachusetts. Visit the Donate Computers page for details.
However, if you prefer to simply donate your gadgets to help charities, then visit these sites:
- Cell Phones for Soldiers (CPFS) is a nonprofit that buys and sends calling cards to active duty U.S. soldiers overseas. By donating your old cell phone(s) to CPFS, you are giving them more phones to sell to a recycler, thus helping them get more money to purchase more phone cards and talk time. (Sales proceeds for each cell phone buys approximately one hour of talk time.) You can bring your phones to any of the 40,000+ drop-off locations across the U.S., or mail them with a prepaid shipping label to CPFS.
- HopeLine is a Verizon Wireless program that puts wireless services and equipment to work to assist victims of domestic violence. They collect used wireless phones in any condition from any service provider for refurbishing or recycling, and with the funds raised from the sale of the refurbished phones, they donate wireless phones and airtime to victims, and provide funding and other contributions to nonprofit domestic violence shelters and prevention programs across the U.S. You can bring your phone to any Verizon Wireless retail store, or mail it to them with the prepaid shipping label.
- Recycle for Breast Cancer provides prepaid shipping labels for you to recycle your gadgets, then donates the proceeds to breast cancer charities. Items that qualify for free shipping include: business phones; cell/smart phones, PDAs, and pagers; digital cameras; inkjet and laser toner cartidges; laptop computers; MP3 players; and storage media.
- Sprint Project Connect uses the net proceeds from the sale of wireless phones, batteries, accessories and data cards (all makes and models and regardless of carrier or condition) to fund and promote free Internet safety resources for kids, parents, and educators. To donate yours, pick up a free, postage-paid envelope at any Sprint-owned store across the U.S. or print the free, pre-paid shipping label on the site.
Excess Access is an online matching database system that connects donors' in-kind items with nonprofit recipients' wish list items across the U.S. and Canada. When there's a match, each party is notified and they can then coordinate item pick-ups. Registration is required, and your account name is the name that is put on your donation receipts for tax deduction purposes.
Eyeglasses in good condition are recycled and sent to medical missions and international charitable organizations for distribution in developing countries, inlcuding those in Europe, the Middle and Far East, Africa, and Central and South America.
For residents in the U.S., vouchers are given for the purchase of new prescription eyeglasses. To help New Eyes for the Needy pay for them, you can also donate money and/or the following items, which the organization sells to generate funds.
- Hearing aids
- Pairs of prescription lenses
- Watches, silver and gold jewelry, and costume jewelry
- Silverware and giftware
- Dentures with gold inlays
OneSight is another organization that collects gently used prescription eyewear and non-prescription sunglasses to recycle and hand-deliver in developing countries around the world and in local communities throughout North America. You can donate yours at any LensCrafters, ILORI, Optical Shop of Aspen, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Target Optical or participating local practitioner locations.
Jake Gyllenhaal Speaks on Behalf of New Eyes for the Needy
Donating Your Small Change Can Make a Big Difference
Dimes Can Do Good as Much as Dollars
After reading this book, what I used to consider an insufficient amount to help anyone, I now know can help someone, and not just that person but their family and community as well.
It inspired me to do something different with my spare change: Instead of just depositing it every time I fill my change jar, I now write a check for that amount and send it to a charity whose work I want to support. I invite you to do the same with your spare change.
And if you purchase this book, part of the proceeds earned goes directly to Donors Choose, a nonprofit that helps public school teachers get the funding they need for supplies, field trips and more, so they can give their students what they need to learn.
Formal Wear (for Teen Girls)
DonateMyDress.org is the first national campaign designed to encourage girls around the country to donate their prom and special occasion dresses to those who cannot afford them for prom, sweet 16, quincea era or formals. The site features a directory of local dress drive organizations across the U.S. that will enable girls to easily find out where in their local markets they can donate or receive a dress. Many of the organizations also accept dress donations by mail.
Operation Fairy Dust provides New York City high school girls in need with formal prom dresses. This rite of passage is expensive, and while most teens hope to attend the event, they are often unable to meet the costs to participate. So, when you donate your old prom or bridesmaid dress, you are giving a girl the ability to attend her prom with confidence and an increased level of self-esteem. Dresses can be dropped off at any of the three participating dry cleaner partners in the New York City area, or shipped to them. Visit the Donate Dresses page for more information.
Inspiring Ideas to Make a Difference for Others
And Yourself, Too
Donating some of your things is just one way to do something nice for needy individuals who could really use them. There are multitudes of other ways to give of yourself for the benefit of others, and these books offer many ideas for how you can. When you purchase one or more of them, a portion of the sales proceeds goes to Donors Choose, a nonprofit organization that supports school teachers and their students in the U.S.
One organization that desperately needs hair right now (and animal fur, too) is Matter of Trust. The folks there are using it to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For more information about this, read the lens, Using Human Hair (and animal fur) to Clean Oil Spills.
Other organizations that accept hair donations, which they use to make hair prosthetics and wigs for children and adults afflicted with medical hair loss, include:
Be sure to read each organization's guidelines for hair donations, and to learn more about donating hair, read the Squidoo lens, How to Donate Your Hair.
Need More Inspiration? How About the Benefits of Decluttering Your Space?
Decluttering isn't just a matter of getting rid of certain things and organizing the rest, and the books below offer intriguing insights as to why we keep so much of what we don't need and how doing so can actually get in the way of our being our best selves, achieving our goals, and living our lives to the fullest. When you purchase one or more of them, a portion of the sales proceeds goes to Donors Choose, a nonprofit organization that supports school teachers and their students in the U.S.
As a part of The Starkey Hearing Foundation, Hear Now is a national non-profit program committed to assisting those permanently residing the in the U.S. who are deaf or hard of hearing and have no other resources to acquire hearing aids.
More On Decluttering
How-tos and benefits
The Top 3 Reasons to Be a Clutter Buster
Clutter. A lot of us have it and almost none of us wants it. So why is it still in our homes and offices? The reasons could probably number as many items as...
How to Organize Any Room
Several years ago, I did what I call "the big purge," when I got rid of literally 1,000-plus things from my home and organized everything that I ke...
Sell Your Used Electronics and Gadgets and Get Cash
We bought the iPads, Android phones, digital cameras and the like. We used them and maybe abused them, and now we have newer digital devices that have taken ...
Don't Let the Bamboo Bamboozle You: A Lens About Feng Shui
Feng shui is the ancient Chinese system of balancing spatial energy -- that is, the energy of a space, such as a building or room. It is both a science and a...
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How Much Are Your Donations Worth?
If you intend to claim tax deductions for your non-cash, in-kind donations, check the Salvation Army Donation Value Guide for help in determining the fair market value of your items.
Here's how you can help them: Viist DonorsChoose.org and ILoveSchools.com to donate money as well as supplies that you have but aren't using anymore, e.g. laptops, magnetic letters, writing materials, etc.
Track Your Donations Online for Free
Tracks your donations
Provides resale values for your non-cash donations
Lets you add donations at any time
Helps reduce your risk of an audit
Visit ItsDeductible for details.
One organization that you can donate them to is Soles4Souls, which collects shoes from donors and the warehouses of footwear companies, and distributes them free of charge to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria. They recently partnered with the flipflop brand of wine and spirits to create National Flip Flop Week, an awareness- and fund-raising campaign. Click on either of the two links here to learn more about the Week's activities and how you can help.
For sneakers only, there is the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program, which takes old sneakers (any brand) and recycles them into sports courts and playgrounds so kids around the world have a place to play. If your sneakers are still in decent shape, donate them to One World Running, which distributes them to needy athletes in the U.S. and around the world.
If You Want Tax Deductions for Your Donations (in the U.S.)
1. Donate items in "good used condition or better" to 501(c)(3) organizations, per the IRS.
2. File Form 1040 Schedule A to itemize your deductions.
3. Keep records of your donations -- a picture of each item, a list of all items with each item's value, and a donation receipt from each organization to which you've donated.
4. Consult with the your accountant / tax adviser for more information about IRS regulations regarding tax deductions for donations.
The organization works to improve the lives and give hope to impoverished children through a variety of sports programs, and with your donations, they gift sports equipment to deserving children all over the world, including the U.S., Mexico, Central and South America, Indonesia, Africa, and the Middle East.
To see a list of the items Sports Gift accepts, visit their Donate Sport Equipment page.
Information on Donations from the IRS
If you want to know all the nitty-gritty details about charitable contributions and donating goods according to the Internal Revenue Service, read these:
IRS Publication 526 (PDF)
IRS Publication 561 (PDF)
Determining the Value of Donated Property
The Beauty of Donating Your Items
Recipients get the things they need, and you feel the warm fuzzies knowing you made a difference for them.
For U.S. Veterans
Please note that while all organizations that serve veterans are worthy causes, many of them only accept financial donations. This section only covers organizations that accept in-kind goods.
"Cause organizes programs that promote recreation, relaxation and resiliency for members of the US Armed Services recuperating from injuries received in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan." One of the programs is the Cause Digital Entertainment Library (CDEL), which currently operates in nine locations: Ft. Belvoir, VA; Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD; Ft. Stewart, GA; Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, TX; Naval Medical Center, San Diego (Balboa), CA; Landstuhl Regional Medical Center; Ft. Hood, TX; Ft. Bragg, NC; and Ft. Riley, KS. You can donate DVDs and video games to the CDEL by sending them to Cause at 4114 Legato Road, Suite B Fairfax, VA 22033. You can also check out the CDEL Amazon Wish List to see/purchase the titles they are requesting.
"ClothingDonations.org is a service of Vietnam Veterans of America," and your donations of used clothes and household goods are used to generate funds (via sales of the items) to support programs across the U.S. for all veterans. Clothing of all types and sizes are needed, as are jewelry and accessories, shoes, baby items, kitchenware, glassware, small appliances, books, toys, bikes, stereos, radios, portable TVs, bedding, curtains, small furniture, rugs, and tools. You can schedule a free pick-up of your items if you are located in one of the 30 states where this service is offered.
Veterans Health Administration Facilities
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has facilities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and the Virgin Islands. The needs of each facility varies, so it's best to contact the Volunteer Service Office of the location nearest you to find out the types of items they accept. A quick review of several locations indicates that most of the V.A. facilities accept books (including large print and puzzles), magazines, lap robes and other new and gently used clothing, handheld computer games, and prepaid phone cards and gift cards, amongst other items.
"Veterans Inc. is the largest provider of services to veterans and their families in New England... Operations are expanding further into New England and beyond in (their) goal of eradicating homelessness among veterans." Clothing (men's and women's), dry goods and canned goods are needed, as are the rest of the items on the Veterans Inc. wish list (PDF). Local donations can be taken to their office in Worcester, MA. If you need to ship your donation, please contact them to make arrangements.
The VSO helps homeless, needy and disabled veterans, and currently provides services to veterans in CT, FL, GA, KY, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, TN, TX, VA, VT, and WV. "Clean, unblemished clothing" is needed for veterans in the VSO's local communities and transitional housing programs. To donate, please contact the VSO office nearest you.
Donate to Donors Choose
An Online Charity Connecting You to Classrooms in Need
DonorsChoose.org is dedicated to addressing the scarcity and inequitable distribution of learning materials and experiences in our public schools.
We at Squidoo passionately believe in creating new ways to support good causes online. By making a donation to Donors Choose from this page, you are sending money directly to that organization, in whatever amount you want. We don't touch it. We don't even see it. The author of this page doesn't either. And if you made it this far, thanks for caring.
Just remember to make sure it is a registered 501(c)3 organization if you want to claim deductions for the value of your items on your taxes, because many thrift stores operate as for-profit consignment stores.
TheThriftShopper.com and ThriftStoreListings.com are websites with thrift store lists, where you can search for a thrift store near you by city, state, or zip code. And The Ultimate Consignment & Thrift Store Guide book covers "the world's best consignment, thrift, vintage & secondhand stores."
(Public domain image by JGKlein via Wikimedia Commons.)
For Neighbors and Others In Your Area
But if you would like to get your things directly into the hands of people who need them and don't mind that you won't get a tax write-off for them, then consider using Freecycle.
- "The Freecycle Network(TM) is made up of 5,022 groups with 8,878,732 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills..."
The economic downturn has caused hardship for many of our neighbors, who may be going without much of what they need. So sign up to become a Freecycle member (it's free) and see what people in your area need what you have that you can gift to them. While many members use Freecycle specifically for "green" reasons, a lot of them are also using it because they can't afford to buy what they need.
(Image courtesy of freecycle.org.)
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