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Donating Clothing? Beware For-Profit Drop Boxes

Donating your old belongings is a great way to give to charity, but companies now have for-profit boxes you can donate to. You want to avoid them.

Donating your unused clothing makes a lot of sense; you can help out a charity like Goodwill or the Salvation Army while cleaning out your closet. You’ll even score a small tax deduction. But choose whom you give you clothes to carefully; for-profit companies are now setting up clothing drop boxes and then reselling your duds to consignment stores or textile recyclers.

Misleading clothing donation boxes

I learned about for-profit clothing drop boxes a couple weeks ago when my parents told me about a bright red donation dumpster they saw in a shopping center parking lot. When they red the fine print, they realized the drop box was not sponsored by Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or another charity, but a for-profit company that donated a tiny percentage of its profits to charitable causes. The practice is misleading at best, illegal at worst.

Clothing recycling boxes

While some companies solicit clothing donations under the guise of charity, others—like U’SAgain—are unashamed to be collecting your old clothes and making a buck.

Unscrupulous charities

Finally, there are even some non-profit organizations soliciting clothing donations that you may want to avoid. Planet Aid is one such company that has drop boxes in certain locations around the country and brags supporting a variety of causes in Africa. There are allegations, however, that Planet Aid, U’SAgain, and other clothing recyclers have links to criminal organizations.

Whether or not the group skirts the law, annual reports reveal that just 11 percent of Planet Aid’s income goes to charity. While non-profit organizations cost money to operate, it seems reasonable to question just how Planet Aid spends the other 89 percent.

How do you find a legitimate charity that accepts clothing donations?

While many charities may be able to put your garments to good use, the Salvation Army and Goodwill are two widespread and reliable charitable recyclers. With some exceptions, however, these groups are likely to have fewer stand-alone drop boxes. To donate clothing, you may have to drive to a thrift store or staffed drop location.

About the author


David Weliver

Founder of Money Under 30, David has over 20 years of experience as a personal finance journalist covering credit cards, banking and investing.

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