How can I make a donation to a charity shop?

Use our database to find your local charity shop. Some charities’ websites also contain listings of shop locations. Then just take your goods into the store, and ask a staff-member where they would like you to leave them. Some shops like things taken straight into the back room to be sorted, while others will be happy for you to leave things by the till.

It is best to call the shop first and check before bringing in any large item such as furniture (to make sure they have space) or electrical appliances (to make sure that the shop has a qualified technician to test the goods). If there are no charity shops near you who can accept your furniture/electrical donations, contact the Furniture Reuse Network: their member organisations may be able to help.

If you are a UK taxpayer, you may be asked if you want to Gift Aid your donation: this means that the charity can receive an extra 25p from the Government, for every £1 they raise from selling your goods.

Charity shops also collect cash donations for their parent charities.

5 things to think about when giving to charity shops

  1. Charity shops work because they can sell items with a second life. Please check your donations are both clean and functional e.g. tears or broken zips on clothes – missing chapters in books!
  2. You are helping a good cause AND the environment – re-use is even better than recycling.
  3. The best way to donate is to take items directly to your local charity shop.
  4. If you have more specialist items, for example, electrical goods or furniture, it is best to check that the charity shop can accept these items for re-sale before donating.
  5. If you are not sure whether your clothes can be re-sold – donate them anyway – whatever clothes a charity shop can’t sell they can send off for further re-use or recycling!

What do charity shops want to receive?

Most charity shops sell a wide range of goods, including accessories, bags, books, clothing, crockery, games, films, jewellery, music, ornaments, paintings, shoes, and toys. More unusual items such as sports equipment, musical instruments and home furnishings, will also be welcomed. Some charities may not be able to take large items of furniture, or electrical goods: if you are in any doubt, ask the shop staff directly.

With most potential donations, the key thing to consider is “would someone else want this?”. Broken items, or those missing vital pieces – like jigsaws – will not be sold. However, all clothing – be it unfashionable, holey or torn – can be used to raise vital funds for the charity. Almost all charity shops which sell clothing have an arrangement with a textile recycler, who buys any unsold items from them, including bed linen and curtains. Such goods will then be recycled, or exported and sold overseas. You can label a bag of donations ‘for rag’ if you so wish.

If there is a specialist shop near you – which sells books and music, for example, or wedding dresses – you may want to sort your goods and give the most appropriate ones to them.

I have an unusual item. Will a charity shop take it?

It is a good idea to phone or call into a shop, to check whether they can accept your goods. Contact details can be found through our Find A Shop database. Below is a list of suggested recipients for certain unusual goods.

Bicycles: Many shops do accept bicycles, otherwise contact Re-cycle (www.re-cycle.org) who send second-hand bikes to Africa.
Computers: give to Computeraid International (www.computeraid.org), Donate a PC (www.donateapc.org.uk) or IT specialists in the Furniture Reuse Network (www.frn.org.uk).
Food (non-perishable): give to Global Hand (www.globalhand.org), who can also take goods as varied as relief supplies, vehicles, textbooks, construction equipment and boats.
Medical equipment: give to Mercy Ships (www.mercyships.org.uk).
Sewing machines: give to Tools for Self Reliance (www.tfsr.org).
Sofas: guide to charities who take sofas (Sofa donations).
Spectacles: many opticians run charity programmes with second-hand glasses, including Dolland & Aitchison (www.danda.co.uk), Eyesite (www.eyesiteonline.co.uk), Vision Express (www.visionexpress.com).
Tools: Tools for bicycle repairs, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, mechanics, and shoe repairs are all welcomed by Tools for Self Reliance (www.tfsr.org).

Will a charity shop collect from my home or office?

Some charity shops are able to collect donations from you, for example if your donation is large. However, a charity shop’s capacity to be able to do this varies widely and we recommend that you contact the shop first to check.

You can also utilise charity house-to-house collection sacks that may appear through your front door. If you take this route we advise that you make sure the sack you fill is going to a registered charity.

May I leave my donation outside the shop?

It is best to bring your goods to the shop within its opening hours. Charities cannot sell items which have been damaged or stolen by passers-by, and it is a sad fact that most bags will be tampered with if left outside overnight.