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Guide to Salvation Army Donations

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As the international pop sensation the Beatles sang, sometimes people have to “get by with a little help from their friends,” For millions of Americans, the Salvation Army can be like a helpful friend in a time of need. 

Many people turn to the Salvation Army not just to get a little help but also as a venue they can use to give back to others. In addition, it can be an effective way to get rid of unwanted stuff without polluting the environment. In this guide, we’ll provide a basic breakdown of the Salvation Army, how its system works, the kinds of items you can donate, and how some use Salvation Army donations for tax benefits.

What is the Salvation Army?

The Salvation Army is a charity that bases its principles, programs, and decisions on faith and religious beliefs. The organization seeks to do this by raising funds and investing those resources to support vulnerable populations.

The Salvation Army is known for its system of thrift stores. Each of these establishments sells donated items and then invests the money they make towards helping specific groups of people.

What items does the Salvation Army accept?

The Salvation Army accepts many common items that you tend to see in thrift stores, including:

  • Clothing
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Books
  • Jewelry
  • Antiques
  • Blankets, towels, pillowcases, and sheets
  • Household items, such as pans, dishes, and cutlery
  • Tapes, CDs, and vinyl records
  • Electronic devices
  • Furniture
  • Appliances

In addition, the Salvation Army also accepts donated vehicles. This includes a wide range of cars, trucks, and other vehicles the organization may be able to sell. Also, in many cases, the vehicle condition doesn’t matter. The organization will accept vehicles that are not operational or have cosmetic damage to sell for parts.

What kind of condition do donated items have to be in?

Even though the organization doesn’t detail the condition that items have to be in, it does mention that pans, dishes, and other household items should be clean and damage-free.

What items does the Salvation Army not accept?

There are several items the Salvation Army will not accept, often because they could be a safety risk to its team members and shoppers. For example, the organization won’t take kerosene appliances, toys that have been recalled, chemicals, paint, monitors, or televisions that have cathode ray tubes.

Other items on the Salvation Army’s do not donate list include tires, wheels, and other automotive parts.

How do Salvation Army donations work?

When you donate an item to the Salvation Army, it gets processed and put into one of their physical stores. Then, when someone purchases it, a large portion of the money goes towards helping people the Salvation Army has designated as in need. The people the Salvation Army aims to help include a wide range of individuals of various ages, including people experiencing unemployment, homelessness, human trafficking, domestic abuse, and many others.

Rather than taking the funds they generate from your donations and giving them to existing organizations, the Salvation Army uses a systematic process to build the programs in which they invest their proceeds. At a high level, the organization does this in three steps:

  • It tries to assess the needs of one or more communities it serves. This involves figuring out the most significant challenges and obstacles that people face.
  • The organization then builds programs designed to meet these specific needs.
  • It then invests in these programs while also offering them to the people in the communities they’re serving.

Where does your money go when you donate?

So what happens to the money they make from selling the things you donate? According to the organization’s website, 82% of its proceeds go directly to supporting people in the communities the Salvation Army supports. This means that the other 18% goes to managing the Salvation Army’s organization, including important elements of its infrastructure, such as:

  • Running physical stores
  • Paying people who work for the organization
  • Maintaining the organization’s website and other digital assets

For some people, knowing that 82% of the money made from their donations goes toward people in need provides a sense of comfort and purpose.

The Salvation Army is also an international organization. It sends funds to other countries to support a range of initiatives the Army feels align with its principles, such as:

  • Helping underdeveloped populations in foreign countries
  • Providing aid for communities in other countries that have gone through disasters
  • Promoting international social justice programs
  • Supporting their international women’s ministry

How does the donation process work?

Donating to the Salvation Army is a relatively straightforward process. People who wish to do so can simply go to a thrift store and donate the goods in the designated donation area. You may have to fill out a form, particularly if you want to take advantage of tax credits that come with donating.

For donating a vehicle, you have to use specific donation services set up by the Salvation Army. They tell people where to go on their website using a ZIP Code search feature.

Are Salvation Army donations tax-deductible?

Yes, donations to the Salvation Army are tax-deductible. To keep track of the value of your donation, you have to fill out a form as you donate and then retain this for your records.

How much can you deduct from your taxes?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows people to deduct as much as 50% of their adjusted gross income when they make charitable donations, including those to the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army isn’t, however, the only organization to which you can donate if you want to save on your taxes. People who would rather donate to another organization, whether due to their beliefs, for the sake of convenience, or for other personal reasons, can search for an eligible organization online via the IRS’s site.

Why do people donate to the Salvation Army?

People donate to the Salvation Army to read the range of rewards. Some people may appreciate the organization’s mission, while others are just looking for a convenient place to drop off unwanted goods.

To help people

For those that have old, unwanted items, there may be a chance that someone else would want to purchase them. Some people may not have the funds to purchase things they need at full price, so buying from a thrift shop is necessary. Plus, every donation directly supports some of the community’s most vulnerable members.

For some folks, this is the most significant benefit of a Salvation Army donation. But even though donating can help you scratch your generosity itch, there are other benefits.

To make it easier to pack while preparing to move

Donating to the Salvation Army is an easy way to get rid of items you don’t want to take with you but don’t want to throw away. And even though you can possibly make some money by selling unwanted things online, that can be time-consuming, and you may leave yourself open to scammers. So a trip to the Salvation Army may be more convenient.

To spend less on a moving vehicle

Every item on your packing list takes off at least some space, and getting rid of several may make it possible to get a smaller moving vehicle. This can not only save you money on the rental fee, but you may also spend less on fuel. To whittle down your list of items to pack, a trip to the Salvation Army may be just the ticket.

For example, some people may want to get rid of one or several pieces of furniture that would otherwise take up a lot of space in the back of a moving van.

To simplify life after a move

Every item someone owns requires time, resources, or energy to maintain. And, for some, donating to the Salvation Army is a way to shed the burden of excess stuff. In a way, dropping something off at a Salvation Army location helps make it easier to have a fresh start after you make your move.

Tax benefits

As mentioned above, you can reduce your adjusted gross income by as much as 50% on your taxes with donations. For those who want to take advantage of the charitable donation deduction, it’s essential to document how much you give and hold onto receipts you get from the Salvation Army.

Consider donating to the Salvation Army

Are you thinking about how to declutter or streamline an upcoming move? Donating to the Salvation Army may be an excellent solution. Before loading up your vehicle, you can check out the kinds of programs your donation supports on the Salvation Army’s website.

Those that choose to give to the Salvation Army can save considerable money and effort during their move. If you want to take advantage of the tax benefits that come with making a charitable donation, you should keep a good record of what you donate and its value. A donation to a charity organization like the Salvation Army is a true win-win: You can reduce the amount of stuff you need to move and provide valuable support to other people. 

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