Looking for donations

Maybe this scenario sounds familiar: you are all fired up to reach out and help people in need, but … you’re short on cash. Or you want to give wisely, by making the most impact with what you give. So you wonder, which are the best charities to donate to?

This is a loaded question. Your accountant would say that charities falling under 501c (3) of the Internal Revenue Code are the best, as charitable donations made to those organizations are tax-exempt. If this is your main concern, head over to IRS.gov to see if your selected charity made the list.

Your friends would likely suggest some of their favorite charity foundations. But their causes may not be the same as your causes. Saving the rainforests, or PETA, or Heifer, or the Susan B. Koman Foundation have merit for many people. But that doesn’t mean it is your favorite cause.

In truth, perhaps the best charities to donate to, are the ones you actually will regularly contribute to. This means that you may need to do some soul searching. What cause lights you up inside? What social injustice keeps you awake at night? Or maybe those are some heavy questions. Perhaps your question is, what is the minimum you can do while still making a difference? Either way, whatever the question may be, the answer will reflect your personal value system. Or it might simply highlight how busy you are.

If the conundrum of which are the best charities to donate to still has no answer, consider making charitable clothing donations. It is probably the easiest and to be honest, cheapest of your options, while still being a possible tax write-off down the line. Surprisingly, donating old clothes helps not just those in need, but the environment as well.

The link between donating and environmentally-friendly may not be obvious yet. Here are some numbers on the textile situation in America. We donate, on average, only 15% of our gently used clothing each year. But experts estimate that in actuality, 100% of those clothes and textiles could have been donated. Instead, about 85% is thrown out.

The result is about 10.5 million pounds of textiles being sent to the landfills each year. Averaged out per person, that is about 70 pounds of cloth that could have been reused. Imagine 70 pounds of textiles, such as blankets, towels, and yes, clothing, that could have gone to someone in need.

The beauty of clothing donations is that you were planning on getting rid of the stuff anyways. With our current obsession of living a more minimalist lifestyle free from clutter, more and more textiles are being discarded. It’s a simple switch to make: instead of tossing that old sweater into the trash, put it in a box or bag. There are clothing drop-off bins in every city. But if that trip is not going on your To Do list, schedule a donation pick-up instead. Do a quick web search for charities in your area that offer free pick-up.

The best charities to donate to are the ones you will actually make a donation to. It doesn’t have to be money, or time, or food, although those things are certainly needed and in great quantities. Remember that a donation can be as simple as making the choice to donate that old suit instead of throwing it away. You never know who you might be helping.