Helpful hints for donating items to charity

Article date
2 June 2020
Primary interest
Voluntary sector
If you’ve been thinking of spending some time clearing out a garage or loft, having a big tidy up or finally sorting through that cupboard of accumulated ‘stuff’, you may have been wondering if any of these items would still be suitable for use by others. There are many charities in Reading that will accept donations of furniture, clothing, children’s and household items, either to pass on directly to those in need, or to sell in their shops in order to fund services they offer. We’ve put together a few hints and tips for how you can sort items for donation.
Determine whether or not the items you wish to donate are useful

Most charities can only make use of items that are new, unused, or nearly new. If you don’t have any use for your old, tattered sofa, rusty washing machine, or torn clothing, chances are neither will a charity.

It is very important that your household items are lightly used, undamaged and in working condition. Make sure there is no rust, mould or broken parts. If there is any dirt or dust on them, please wipe or clean them before donating. Clothing should be free of rips or stains, and be washed before donating.

If you’re uncertain whether an item is suitable, it may be worth contacting the charity beforehand to see if it is an item they can use.

Consider selling your items and donating the proceeds to charity

If it’s possible for you to sell the items yourself and donate the proceeds, you allow charities greater flexibility in spending the money so that it reaches the people that need it the most. When you sell the items yourself you also unburden charities of any time and money they would have to spend on selling or refurbishing the items, allowing them to spend more resources directly fulfilling their missions.

Measure, package and label the items

This can help save charities time and resources when processing your donations, and protect the items while being handled. It can be useful to add labels that indicate:

  • The height, width and depth dimensions of large furniture items. 
  • The size of clothing and shoes, particularly where this might have faded from the original label.
  • The suitable age range of any children’s items.
  • The actual contents of any box you’re using in place of the original packaging for an item.
  • Any sharp or fragile items such as knives or glassware should be securely packaged, and clearly labelled to indicate the contents and which way up a box should be held..
  • If an item includes several smaller pieces, it can be helpful to bag these up and label what they belong with, to help avoid parts going missing. If you still have it, include any operating/instruction manuals that go with an item.
Check the charity’s donation process

Individual charities will have their own process for when and where to make donations. Regrettably during the Covid-19 situation, some may also be operating limited services or have temporarily closed shops and donation points. You should check the charity’s website before donating. National charities such as Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Salvation Army and Sue Ryder have further information and local branch details on their websites, and you can find information for some other local charities here: