Goodbye, old friends: Donating clothes to charities

by Jenny

One of the hardest things to give up — at least for me — are clothes. I’ve preached pretty regularly about putting seasonal clothing in self storage (and you should!) to save space, and donating items you really don’t need to charities in your town.

That’s easier said that done, of course. I am not immune to a good sale, online or otherwise, and I’ve bought my share of clothes that I loved in the moment only to give them a permanent place in the closet or my storage unit.

I’ve given myself reasons to keep certain pieces — “That will come back in style,” or “That would look better if I just matched it with something else,” or “I’ll wear that…sometime.” And in the storage space it stays.

Let’s do this together, people. Let’s agree that there are some clothes we are never going to wear — and that there are charities that can really use our gently-loved gear.

Don’t worry — you don’t have to rely on me to motivate you this week (especially when I need motivation myself). Andi Willis — owner of Good Life Organizing in Georgia and one of the great minds behind one of my favorite blogs — is here to help us be smart about being charitable.

3 Considerations When Donating Clothing (or anything, really) to Charities

1.) Do your research. Just because an organization claims to be not-for-profit does not automatically mean your money will be put to good use. Are the charities you are considering legally registered, tax-empty organizations? Do their beliefs and values align with yours?

If not, it may be better to keep that box of denim in your storage unit a little longer.

“Before you drop your donations in a parking lot bin, do a little research,” says Willis. “Check in with Guidestar or the Better Business Bureau. They are great sources in deciding which charities are most legitimate.”


2.) Make the hard choices. This process will take some evaluation on your end. You’re going to have take serious inventory of your closet and your storage facilities — and you’re going to need to be brutally honest with yourself.

For her part, Willis uses a three-step process to decide what to keep versus what to gets sent to charities.

“Think of three things,” says Willis. “Do I use it, do I need it, and do I love it? If you can’t answer yes to any of these, it’s time to let go. If you have some items that you just aren’t sure of, it’s okay to make a ‘maybe’ pile. After you’ve gone through everything, you can revisit the maybe pile and often, your final decision will become clear.”

Quick tips:

  • Do some home organizing. As you reconsider your space, you will find several items (not just clothes) that won’t pass Andi’s three-strikes policy.
  • Clean your closets. Your storage spaces, too. It’s almost shocking to discover what you are able to hide from yourself.
  • What would charities want? Probably not that garbage bag full of stained baby clothes your mom insisted that you keep at your storage facility “for when you need them” (thanks for the hint anyways).Sweaters, dresses, shoes, handbags, jackets, and well-kept denim, however, are going to be valuable — and reusable.

Which brings us right up to our third note…

3.) Talk with local charities. Contacting an organization is easy — between the phone, social media, email, etc., there’s no reason not to suss out the clothing needs of your favorite local charities.

Charitable giving won’t just clear out your storage spaces — it’ll make you feel better about yourself, too. You’re helping people, you’re going green, you’re being a good citizen — heck, you’re kind of a hero.

“In essence, you are recycling your items by allowing someone else to use them,” Willis notes. “This is good for the environment and also good for the community.”

Big thanks to Andi for the helpful tips! And if you have any organization ideas of your own, just contact me on Twitter at @JennyStorage.


• DIYer, Designer, Declutterer
• Freelance Blogger & Home Beautifier
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