Posts Tagged 'good will'

Donations: Ethics of Cleaning Out the Closet

I regularly donate old clothes and items to the Salvation army/Goodwill stores.   I just drop off bags/boxes of clothes & they give me a little receipt to fill out.  Last year when I did this, I happened to be cleaning out my old room in my parent’s house, which is in a more affluent neighborhood.  I asked the guy – what should I fill in for an estimate?  He said, ‘beats me – the last lady who came here, drove up in her Mercedes & dropped off two pairs of jeans and a dress and estimated the value at 10,000 dollars.”  Wow, I mean wow.  That takes cahones.  This was certainly illegal, but really she would never get caught – so what bothered me most was how she could walk away with a good conscience.  The IRS code lists guidelines for donations as “thrift store value” – I doubt anyone is going shopping for a 10K cocktail dress at salvation army, even if it is worth that much.

So I was pretty offended by this, and made sort of a rash determination about my haul – which was 3-4 garbage backs full of  shirts, pants & dress shirts, and 10 gently used suits that didn’t fit me.  I also threw in some electronics, a DVD player & a VCR.  I estimated the total value as $100 dollars.  When tax time came around I looked at this again and thought – I completely underestimated the value of at least the suits and dress shirts.  But it got me thinking, I’ve never bought a suit from Salvation Army or Good Will.  Each of these suits new were 150-350 dollars.  So how off was I?

This year again, it’s donation time, I’m clearing out the closet and I am faced with the Ethics of Donating used clothing.  I want to do the right thing, but I also could sure use an honest amount for my itemized donation this year (can’t we all?).  I think I’m going to go with $3-5 dollars a dress shirt or pants & $15 dollars a suit. 

Thoughts?