Tips & Tricks

8 Tips for Donating Used Furniture

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This is the time of year we typically start to think about all the things we want or need to buy. Thanksgiving is welcome and wholesome respite before the onslaught of the consumer season — but with online shopping now easy and ubiquitous, the shopping seems to start earlier than ever. This year, we encourage you to start thinking about not what you’ll buy, but all the opportunities you have to give back through donations.

The truth is, people need help as much or more than they ever have, and your generosity can go a long way toward making someone’s end-of-year a lot more pleasant than they might normally be. But hey, we know you’re not thinking about this stuff around the clock.

Besides writing a check, or donating online, you might not know exactly how and where (or even what) you can give to people in need. And while there are a lot of opportunities to donate household items that could help a family, your best option may be to donate furniture.

Furniture ultimately forms a sense of home – a place for rest and relaxation away from the challenges of daily life. These challenges are all the more pronounced for families who may be struggling to get by. If you’re thinking about upgrading your home, moving into a new place, or adding a new couch or dining room table, think of donating furniture you plan to replace, rather than selling it or merely throwing it away.

Before you start, though, we’ve got some tips to help focus your furniture donation so it will do the best good for a family in need. Many of these tips come courtesy of our friends and partners at Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, and furniture blog Lifelong Thrift.

  • Check the Website or Call. Donation organizations constantly update their websites, but calling can give you an even better sense of what’s needed real-time. Many of the leading donation centers offer detailed lists of what they’re looking for and what they accept:
  • Donate – Don’t Dump. Does your couch look like any of these? Probably not a good candidate, then. When donating furniture, the best thing you can ask yourself is “would I buy this?”  Items with rips, tears, or stains, or those that need structural repairs, are hard to sell. While you might think it’s in good working order, familiarize yourself with donation quality standards if you’re still unsure. If it’s not in good shape consider a junk removal plan for recycling it or taking the item to the dump.  
  • Get Moving Help. Some donation centers offer home collection – but scheduling can be tough. Don’t resort to strapping an item to your car (or not donating at all). On demand movers like Dolly can help you with furniture donation pickup, and keep the safe and in good working order.
  • Know What You Can’t Donate. Familiarize yourself with common items donation centers won’t accept:
    • Mattresses and box springs
    • Bedframes
    • computer monitors
    • non-flatscreen TVs
    • Skis
    • Strollers, cribs, carseats, breast pumps, and medical equipment like crutches.  

Some of these items, like mattresses, often require dedicated recycling programs.

  • Flip the Switch. If you plan to donate electronics or an accepted appliance be sure it works and includes all parts – and also that you’ve taken the appropriate steps to remove data and potentially hazardous batteries.
  • Lend a Helping Hand. Don’t just drop and go. If your donated furniture requires disassembly to fit in your vehicle, help the donation center staff put it back together when you arrive.  
  • Business can help, too! Do you own or work at a retail store? Donation organizations like Goodwill can work with your company to take excess inventory as donations! It’s a great way to give close-out or customer-return merchandise a new lease on life.
  • Ask for a Receipt. It’s totally okay to think about tax deductible donations and to ask for a tax receipt. If you’re concerned about this, make sure the donation center is operating as a registered 501c(3) and staff will readily provide receipts. That said, if you’re donating an item you claim is worth more than $250, there are additional requirements, and you may need staff to fill out a more detailed writeup about the item, including notes about its condition.

Donating furniture not only helps families in need, it’s a good (and generous) policy for keeping an orderly, uncluttered house or apartment. If you bring one thing in, especially if that thing is a large piece of new furniture, aim to take one thing out. And donating furniture, rather than selling it, will do a lot more good than the cash you may get from parting with it online.

At Dolly, helping give back is an important to us as a company. We have partnerships with several donation sites and are happy to help you with resources as you consider your furniture donations this year. For more information and details, visit our donation pick and drop off page.

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