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Door of Hope Children’s Mission recently received a donation that turned out to be unusable items, and it inspired them to use it as a teaching moment.


Johannesburg, South Africa (13 October 2020) – Charities are often used as an easy dumping ground for unwanted items that are not usable. We don’t mean a toy your daughter no longer uses; we mean a toy that is broken that nobody can use. Having spent some time working as a volunteer for a charity shop, it is a very regular thing to be dumped with junk.

Many people believe that charities can use anything and everything. In most cases, this is true, they network with one another, and where one item may not have value to an organisation, it is sent along to another where it can help. This does not always apply, though, when items are broken or stained.

The Door of Hope Children’s Mission in Johannesburg recently got a donation of items that were all better off being sent to the dump. Items were broken, missing things, covered in stains of human waste, a used pregnancy test (yes, you read that right!) and even contained expired food items. You can read the full breakdown of their experience here.

They decided to share a constructive post in the hopes of using the moment to teach the greater population of what is considered a good or bad donation. They didn’t share the post to shame anyone, but to raise awareness for something that many charities fear speaking out about.

Bad donations mean that a charity has to use their own resources to dispose of the items, often having to get a truck in (which costs money and takes away from their much-needed funds) to remove all the items collected over time.

So using Door of Hope’s helpful steps; hopefully, we can all be better when making donations to a charity in need.

Step 1: Determine whether or not the items you wish to donate are useful.

Most charities can only make use of items that are new, unused, or nearly new. If you don’t have any use for your old, tattered couch, rusty washing machine, or other used item, chances are neither will a charity. If you think that the items you wish to donate may be of use to someone else proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Consider selling your items and donating the proceeds to charity.

By donating cash instead of goods, you allow charities greater flexibility in spending the money so that it reaches the people or animals that need it the most. When you sell the items yourself, you also eliminate the for-profit middleman that can take a big cut of the money intended for charity. When you sell the items yourself, you also unburden charities of any time and money they would have to spend on selling or refurbishing the items, allowing them to spend more resources directly fulfilling their missions.

Whether or not you decide to sell your items and donate the cash, or you still think your items may be of use to a charity in need, proceed to Step 3 to find the right charity to accept your generous support.

Step 3: Start locally to find the right charity.

To avoid transportation costs that can lower the impact of your donation, look first in your local community to find a charity to support with your noncash contribution. Call around and ask charities if they accept the kind of items you are looking to donate and if they don’t find out if they have any suggestions for a charity that does.

Step 4: Finally, if you want to be a “superdonor,” wash clothing and toys before donating it.

People that actually wash their clothing before they donate and fold them nice is always appreciated. If donors can do that ahead of time, that would be amazing. We understand, though, that’s not always possible, but even if people have some questionable things they weren’t sure about, putting those in a bag and just writing like damaged clothing on it probably would be helpful for our staff. Broken toys should not be donated. More often than not, the charity does not have funds to repair broken items and do not have the means to take broken items to the rubbish dump.

Think twice before donating any of the following:

  • Anything “gross” or unsanitary
  • Broken or damaged items
  • Trash
  • Completed colouring or stickers books
  • Puzzles with missing pieces
  • Books with missing pages
  • Dirty toilet seats, or potty chairs
  • Expired food items

“Many charities, including us, get bags filled with trash that some people expect them to go through. Don’t get us wrong. It’s not that charities are ungrateful for donations. It’s simply that they don’t have the time or manpower to go through a bag of trash piece-by-piece in order to unearth a possible treasure. If they see a bag that is mostly trash, it will be trashed. Carefully sort your items from the trash, and bring the good stuff in for donation.

Charities will happily accept these items if they are clean and in good condition. We have no idea why one human being would give another human being one of these items in any condition that is less than sparkling clean. It is inhumane, and certainly not a blessing.”

In this case, another man’s trash is not a treasure so next time you are planning on donating to your local charity, consider all these steps.

Source: Door of Hope Children’s Mission
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Tyler Leigh Vivier
About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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