Donating Furniture: The Ultimate Guide

You’re not alone if you’ve ever looked around and thought, “Wow, I have a lot of stuff.” Some people have more furniture than they could ever use in a lifetime.

What are your options for furniture donation? You can try everything from national nonprofits to local groups to see which ones will take your stuff.

Things which are not needed in a house can be donated
Things which are not needed in a house can be donated

National Groups

Charities can be an easy way to get rid of your furniture. Many of them even offer pick-up service if you can’t get to a drop-off location or don’t have time to drive across town.

Some of these groups also work with GreenDrop for people who can’t travel to a donation center.

Goodwill

Almost a household name, Goodwill has donation centers in most states. Some are part of their retail stores, and others are separate Donation Xpress centers.

By selling used furniture, clothing and other items, Goodwill helps local communities. Goodwill has many regional centers, and each one has its own rules on the furniture it accepts.

Check with your local Goodwill, either on their website or over the phone, for more details. In general, Goodwill accepts used furniture without stains, hair, missing parts and damage.

You can also ask about pick-up service for large items. Most Goodwill locations can have someone pick up your stuff. Be sure to tell them how many pieces you have and how big they are.

Goodwill
Goodwill

The Salvation Army

Like Goodwill, The Salvation Army has stores across the country. Donating furniture to local Salvation Army Family Stores helps their support centers.

You’ll find Family Stores and donation drop boxes throughout your local communities. Check The Salvation Army donation site and enter your zip code to find the closest one.

You can ask for pick-up service for large furniture. To get started, enter your zip code to see if you can set it up online. If not, give them a call.

salvation army
Salvation Army

 

Furniture Bank Association of North America

The Furniture Bank Association of North America is a group of furniture banks. The Association, which helps families who cannot buy their own furniture, offers it free or at a low cost. This is a way to keep furniture in homes instead of in the landfill.

The furniture banks have their own names, but they all share the same mission.

Most of the furniture banks travel to people’s homes to get used furniture. Make sure you call your nearest furniture bank to ask about what they need and how far they will travel to get it.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores

Habitat for Humanity builds homes, but it has Habitat ReStores as well. These ReStores help people by offering used furniture and other items for the home. All money earned from local ReStores goes toward communities in need.

When you’re ready to donate your furniture, make sure it is clean and damage-free. For cloth furniture, also make sure it doesn’t have rips or stains.

Each ReStore has different needs, so contact your local donation center to see what they can take. Then you can either drop off the furniture or set up pick-up service.

Local Organizations

You’ll find the following options in most local communities.

Homeless Shelters

Although more common in large cities, homeless shelters can appear in small towns as well. You will find them wherever people need help. Most of them are independent nonprofits that depend on funding.

Sometimes these shelters do not have enough beds and furniture. To help these shelters get more furniture, you’ll first want to search online for shelters in your area. Then contact them to ask if they could use the furniture that you no longer need.

Be ready to describe your items. If the furniture shows stains or damage, it is not acceptable to donate.

Not-for-Profit Charity Thrift Shops

Hospice centers, children’s charities and faith missions offer thrift stores. While they don’t use the donated items, they do use the money earned to support programs and other services.

You can use DonationTown to see local charities in your area that offer thrift stores. Most of them accept furniture in good condition.

Donation to see local charities
Donation to local charities

Contact the charity to see what they will take. Also ask if they offer pick-up service for large pieces.

For-Profit Thrift Shops

Other thrift shops are not nonprofit. They are for-profit. Savers stores in the United States and Canada work under the names Savers and Value Village. They buy donated items from nonprofits and sell them at their retail stores.

You can donate to a Savers Community Donation Center that accepts items for a local charity. Enter your zip code to find a donation center near you.

Keep in mind that each center has its own rules for what it will and will not accept. Some centers accept small furniture, but none of them will accept beds and mattresses. Call your local donation center to hear about their list of accepted items.

A Closer Look at Three Local Organizations

Here are three local organizations that help people wanting to donate. They use the money and/or the donated furniture to help people needing support.

1. City Rescue Mission

Founded in 1946, City Rescue Mission began as a homeless shelter. Later, it offered shelter, meals, transition housing and job support.

City Rescue Mission, located in Jacksonville, Florida, works through donations. It also has a thrift store that helps to bring in more money for programs and services.

Recovered Treasures Thrift Store is the name of their thrift store. It first opened in 1980, and it sells used clothing, furniture and other items. The store also acts as a job placement for those in the Life Builders program.

To donate furniture, look at the donation guidelines to see what the center will take. They do offer pick-up service, but only if you’re located close to the store.

2. Housing Works

Housing Works opened in 1990 to help people with homelessness and health problems. It supports communities across New York City.

There are Housing Works Thrift Shops throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. They all accept donations in the store.

Housing Works has rules on what it will and will not accept. To start with, furniture must be in good condition or excellent condition. It must also meet the approval of the store manager.

This means that none of the Thrift Shops will accept stained or damaged furniture. Also, they do not accept furniture made from certain materials.

If you’d like furniture pick-up service, you’ll need to fill out the online form and show pictures. Check the list of acceptable and unacceptable furniture before filling out the form.

3. Humble Design

Humble Design first opened in Detroit in 2009. Now it has more locations in Seattle, Chicago and San Diego. All these locations accept used furniture, kitchen and bath supplies, and home goods.

Humble Design New York
Each warehouse helps local families who were once homeless. A team of volunteers will fill their new home with donated goods.

If you live near the warehouse, you can take your used furniture right to the warehouse during open hours. Some locations accept furniture donations Monday to Friday. Others accept donations on certain days.

Check the donation page for more information. Then review the donation sheet to see if your furniture is acceptable.

For furniture pick-up service, fill out the chosen location’s online form and wait for someone to call you. Most pick-ups include a money donation to help with the cost of gas.

The Furniture You Can and Cannot Donate

Organizations accept furniture that is in at least good condition. Of course, they prefer furniture in excellent condition. You can donate furniture such as:

  • end tables
  • dining tables and dining chairs
  • bookshelves
  • couches
  • chairs
  • dressers
  • sideboards
  • desks
  • nightstands
  • coffee tables

coffee tables

Whatever type of furniture you have, make sure you contact the organization first. Furniture is heavy, and you don’t want to take it to a donation center only to find out they won’t accept it.

You’ll need to check over all furniture before you donate it. Look for stains, damage, rips and missing parts. Organizations don’t want any furniture in poor condition because they can’t use it or resell it.

Beds, mattresses, cribs, sleeper sofas and glass-top tables are not acceptable for donation. But there are always exceptions. If you have any doubt, call the charity and describe your furniture as best as you can.

Checking the Condition of Your Furniture

When you’re looking at your furniture, you need to view it like you were the new owner. Even if the new owner receives it for free down the line, they will be happier with something in good condition.

Ask yourself, “Would I buy this?” If you do not answer yes, ask yourself why. Is it because of the stains on the couch cushions, or the layers of cat hair in the corners?

Can you clean the furniture and remove those issues? If you can get rid of the problems, you should do so. It could become someone else’s bookcase, couch or dining table and go on to provide years of use.

Filthy or damaged furniture won’t fit into any category but “poor,” though. You shouldn’t try to donate it.

old couch
Just donate the couch, not the pooch

When to Get Receipts for Tax Purposes

Most nonprofits are 501(c)(3) organizations. Anything you donate to them might be deductible on your taxes. Remember that you’ll need to get a receipt at the time of donation to claim it on your taxes.

How to Determine the Fair Market Value

How do you figure out the market value of the furniture so you can use it on your taxes? You can look at donation guides from the organization or through online searches.

The Salvation Army has a guide for donation values. The IRS provides advice in “Determining the Value of Donated Property.”

What to Do If Nonprofits Do Not Want Your Donations

If nonprofits don’t want your furniture donations, do you head to the landfill? No! Before you drive over there, try to think of alternatives that let someone else use your stuff. Good options might be consignment shops or online websites like Freecycle and Nextdoor.

Consignment shops accept your furniture and sell it for you. But they do keep a certain percentage as a fee.

Freecycle and Nextdoor are best for local communities. On these websites you’ll create an account and describe your furniture. You can give away belongings you don’t want (on Freecycle) or give away or sell belongings (on Nextdoor).

Keep in mind, these options are best if you’re moving within the same city or to one not too far away. You’ll need to take furniture to someone or pick up payment down the line.

Whatever route you take, it’s always good to know you’re helping others while helping yourself prep for a new move.

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Author Bio: Emily Clayton writes about many topics, including travel, healthy living and greening up spaces.

 

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