While it’s true your “junk” may be someone’s “treasure,” how do you decide what to donate and to whom? Depending on your community, the answers to those questions may vary. There are places that will take anything, in any condition; however nowadays, most charities have some basic rules to prevent an inundation of, well… junk.

Follow these handy guidelines to help you thin out your belongings and to be sure they are on their way to good homes.

Be Ruthless

After all, you are moving; do you really want to pay for the privilege of packing it, shipping it, and unpacking it, only to relegate it to a corner in your new attic? Heirlooms, antiques, and family treasures aside, if it’s been in a box or on the shelf for the last nine thousand years, you probably forgot you had it. If you forgot you had it, you very likely won’t miss it. It’s time to get rid of it.

As far as clothing goes, ask yourself when the last time was that you wore the item in question. Likewise, if you are moving to the wild north of the Arctic Circle, you probably won’t need those Bermuda shorts any time soon. Donate them instead.

Sort Everything

Not every charity shop takes everything, so sort things into groups:

  • Clothing
  • Household linens – sheets, blankets, towels
  • Household knickknacks – vases, the ugly whatsit that Aunt Martha gave you
  • Small appliances including everything from blow dryers to bread machines
  • Large appliances such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, and stoves
  • Furniture including beds, chairs, tables, couches, armoires, and more

Exercise some quality assurance

In general, your donations should be in good repair, gently used and, if electrical, in good working condition. An old washing machine with dents and chips may still work but in most cases would not sell at a Salvation Army or Goodwill store. If all the buttons are missing or there is a big tear in that blouse, no one will want it for anything but rags. The same holds true for stained mattresses, sprung couches and threadbare blankets. Be sure the stove and refrigerator are clean (especially the oven). Remember, you are donating, not dumping. The act is typically intended to be a kind one, so make it a considerate one, as well.

Most people will sell their cars, boats, and riding lawnmowers. If, however, you’ve been unsuccessful and time is running out, consider making those items a donation to a nonprofit. National Public Radio and others have programs that accept vehicles and the like. The win-win is that you get a tax deduction and they can raise money on the value of your car.

Be Selective

Beyond the usual suspects like the Goodwill, Salvation Army, and St. Vincent de Paul, there are a number of organizations that you can give your things to. DonationTown.org, Freecycle, and Charity Navigator are all good resources for finding and evaluating charities in your neighborhood. Nearby churches, hospitals, libraries, and shelters may also take your donations. Make a list of potential recipients and give them a call.

Questions to ask include:

  • What kinds of items do you take?
  • Does someone screen my things before they’re accepted?
  • Do you have specific drop off hours?
  • Where is the drop off point?
  • Do you pick up, and if so, when?

Remember, it may be that you need to contact several charities before you’ve successfully disposed of all your unwanted things.

Moving is a hectic business, it’s time-consuming and you have a deadline before the your moving company arrives to help pack up the rest for shipping. With planning and forethought, you can eliminate your unwanted extras and send them on to good homes.

Find out more about 7 Things NOT to take in container shipments

Written by Einat Mazafi
Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY International Shipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.