Cleaning and de-cluttering have become popular past times as of late thanks to the Internet.
First came cleaning queen Mrs Hinch, who’s been taking Instagram by storm with her Hinching hacks. Now, a new internet sensation is in town in the form of Marie Kondo, whose Netflix show has encouraged people to part with their clutter if it no longer ‘sparks joy’.
I first discovered Marie Kondo a few weeks ago whilst in work. I run a local charity shop and a customer came in and started talking about a new way of thinking which she’d started applying whilst out shopping. If an item didn’t spark joy, she didn’t want to buy it. Upon hearing the words ‘spark joy’, I gave my colleague a ‘wtf’ rolling eyes kind of look, and he was just as confused. One search of the term ‘spark joy’ on Twitter later that evening told me everything I needed to know about this new trend.
With the world seemingly in de-clutter mode, charity shops are benefiting more than ever from donations, which I can assure you we are incredibly grateful for. However, with an abundance of donations coming in through the door, I thought I would create a handy guide of things to consider when donating to a charity shop, which makes things easier for the donors and receivers alike.
1. Phone/ask ahead
If you’ve got a big car load of items to donate, or have a few items which are out of the norm, then phone the shop in advance or call in to check if they a) are accepting goods and b) can accept the items you have to give.
Don’t just assume that all shops are currently accepting donations. Whilst we try and accept everything in my shop, there are times when you simply have to turn away donors if you don’t physically have the room to store large quantities of stock.
It also pays to check what they do and don’t accept. Almost all shops will accept standard items such as clothing, bric-a-brac, toys etc however, not every shop is able to sell furniture and electrical goods.
2. Check opening hours
Once you know that the charity shop of your choice is happy to accept your donations, check what times they’re open. It’s important that you donate your items during shop hours, both for your sake and the charity’s.
A large number of people make a habit of leaving donations outside of opening hours, which leads to goods being stolen, damaged or soiled before they get a chance to be sold. If you leave a bag of donations outside a charity shop in the evening, it’s almost certain that very little, if anything at all, will be left by the morning.
Charity shop opening hours are often shorter than other retail shops however, most are also open on the weekend so there’ll almost always be a suitable time for you to drop off your goods.
3. Sort your clothes into two piles
Almost every single charity shop is linked to a recycling scheme, which means that they will happily accept your clothing, shoes and bags no matter what condition they’re in. Shops are able to recycle any clothing that they can’t sell, meaning that they will raise funds for the charity either way.
If you know that you have a lot of rags, or clothing which isn’t good enough to sell, try and keep them separate from the sell-able clothing, as this will help the volunteers to avoid unnecessary sorting.
Books which are in poor condition can also be recycled within charity shops, whilst some can also recycle items including bric-a-brac, jewellery and old phones.
4. Try and bring donations in bags/boxes you no longer need
A charity shop has limited space in their stockroom, so being able to stack up bags and boxes of donations is really helpful. However, sometimes when people bring in donations, they want the bag or box back which is absolutely fine, but it does come with its own set of problems. Not only does it cause a mess in the stockroom, but needing to immediately find space for fifty small knick-knacks or books can be difficult especially if the area is already fairly crowded.
If at all possible, please bring your donations in cardboard boxes from a supermarket or old bags you no longer need. Not only will it make the sorting process a lot smoother for the volunteers, but they will also be able to re-use those bags/boxes when serving other customers.
5. Gift Aid
If you’re a UK taxpayer, why not consider adding Gift Aid to your donations? Most charity shops have a Gift Aid system in place, and all you have to do is fill in a one off form. The charity will then be able to claim an extra 25% on the money made from your donations (25p for every £1), at no cost to yourself. It’s a win win all round!