Tag Archives: Charity Navigator

How to Donate to Charity at No Additional Expense

By Tracey Dowdy

Now that 2020 – a year that has felt more like a decade – is drawing to a close, you may be looking for ways to end on a high note. One of the most positive ways to wrap up such a challenging year is by donating to a charity that’s near to your heart. And before you say, “I can’t afford to give, I should be receiving charity!” these options make giving simple and, in most cases, won’t cost you a dime beyond what you were already spending. 

Before you donate to any charitable organization, do a little homework. Sites like GiveWell.orgCharity NavigatorCharityWatch, and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance rate charities and will verify whether the organization is registered to raise money in your state. 

Giving Assistant is like having your pwn pocket-sized personal assistant who takes care of your charitable donations. Simply shop online through your desktop browser to earn cashback on your purchases. Then simply choose to donate all or a portion of your rebate to the charity of your choice. There are thousands of stores to choose from, 

Altruisto is a Chrome browser extension. Through its 1000+ partner stores, a percentage of your purchase becomes a charitable donation to underfunded charities vetted by GiveWell.org. For example, your purchase of a $150 tablet from Microsoft means a family gets enough clean, safe water for a month. 

Benefit is a mobile app that enables you to support the charity of your choice through purchases like groceries, Airbnb reservations, plane tickets, or your morning Starbucks. Each purchase earns between 2% – 20% of the transaction total sent to the cause of your choosing. Only downloaded, simply have the cashier scan the barcode on your phone in-store or enter the redemption code in the gift cards section when shopping online. At the end of the month, Benefit sends a check to the charity you’ve selected. Alternatively, you can choose Life Expenses, and the money comes back to you each month.  

If you’re an Amazon shopper, use Amazon Smile or Amazon Red. With Amazon Smile, shop as you usually would, and Amazon will donate 0.5 percent of all eligible purchases to the charity of your choice. You can choose major charities like the United Negro College Fund or choose something closer to home. Among my options were a local elementary school and a poodle rescue. Items purchased through Amazon.com/RED raise funds to fight AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis around the world. 

Finally, Charity Miles is one of the top-rated free Fitness and Health apps in the Google and Apple app store. Once you download the app, choose from a rotating selection of charities. The app will log your movement – walking, running, cycling, dancing – and corporate sponsors donate based on your activity level. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

I’ve Tidied Up with Marie Kondo – Now What?

By Tracey Dowdy

 If you’re on social media, you’ve likely heard of Marie Kondo, the tidying expert, best-selling author, and founder of KonMari Media, Inc. She’s also the star of Netflix’s wildly popular “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

Inspired by her New York Times best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Kondo’s show has sent millions of Americans into their closets, attics, and basements to purge the accumulated detritus of a lifetime. Instead of attacking the project room by room, Kondo suggests tidying by category – start with your clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, those sentimental items you’ve been hanging onto out of obligation or guilt. You keep only those things that hold meaning for you, and you dispose of or donate everything else. Say “thank you for your service” – then let them go.

Kondo’s minimalist approach has struck a chord, and as a result, charity shops are overrun with donations from clothing to jewelry, small appliances, and furniture. There are a number of organizations that will accept new, gently used, and (in select cases) damaged items. Of course, it can be very confusing deciding who and where to donate.

Before donating to any organization, I recommend starting with Charity Navigator, a site that provides objective ratings allowing you to find charities you can trust and know your donation is going to a noble organization that shares your values. Another great resource is a list created by Forbes of America’s Top Charities for last year.

Once you’ve found the charity you wish to support, use this general guide to what GoodwillSalvation Army, and other smaller charities and organizations will and won’t accept as donations. One final tip – it’s always best to contact the local donation center if you’re unsure.


  • Clothes – should be laundered, odor-free as well as free of stains, rips, and have emptied pockets.
  • Linens – Like clothing, towels and bed linens like sheets, comforters, and blankets should be laundered, free of stains, rips, and odors.
  • Tools – kitchen, lawn, and garden tools, as well as hand and small power tools can be donated as long they’re in good working order, free of rust and fraying cords.
  • Small appliances – Toasters, blenders, food processors and other small appliances can be donated as long as they’re in good working condition. Include accessories and attachments if possible.
  • Books – both new and gently used books are acceptable, but books that are heavily worn, have missing pages, torn covers, water damaged, or promote hate speech are not likely to be accepted.
  • Electronics – Some organizations like Goodwill accept electronics whether they’re working or not, so it’s best to check before you donate. Also, be sure to wipe the hard drive to delete any personal information.
  • Vehicles – If your garage clean out includes a vehicle, there are several charities that will accept donations regardless of condition. Check this guide from Charity Watch for tips for donating a car to charity.


  • Baby equipment – Most places do not accept donations of baby products like high chairs, car seats, cribs, high chairs, and toys unless you can prove they meet current CPSC safety standards, and even then, they may not accept the item. Your best bet is to contact The Good Plus Foundation or The Pregnancy Centre for a list of products and equipment they will accept.
  • Mattresses are breeding grounds for mites, mold, mildew, and are practically impossible to clean Instead, you should just recycle NOTE: sleeper sofas fall under the same category and cannot be donated.
  • Televisions – CRT TVs (TVs that aren’t flat screens) cannot be donated. Moreover, it’s illegal to dispose of CRT TVs in the trash, so you’ll need to find a recycling center that accepts them. This is a category that’s best to call ahead and check the donation guidelines – for example, Goodwill won’t take TVs that are more than five years old.

 Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.