All you need to know about donating

The following aims to answer any questions you may have about donating items.

Do I need to wash clothes and textiles before I donate them to charity?

Clothes need to be clean and in good condition for charity shops to be able to sell them on.

Can I donate furniture and electrical items?

Some charities have dedicated stores which sell furniture and electricals. Furniture projects also take furniture and certain electrical items. Check with the charity you want to donate to first though, as items such as sofas must have a fire safety label sewn in.

What do charity shops want to receive?

Please check your donations are both clean and functional. No tears or broken zips on clothes or missing chapters in books!

Can I leave donations outside a charity shop?

It's best to bring your goods to the shop when its open. If goods are left outside a shop overnight charities won't be able to sell items which have got damp or have been damaged or tampered with.

How else can I donate?

You could use the house-to-house collection services where charities leave a sack for you to fill.

There are also textile banks at various locations around Derbyshire.

What is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid allows charities to claim the basic rate of tax back for each pound they raise, if the person donating is a tax payer. So if you are a tax payer and the coat you donate to your local charity shop raises £10, the donation will be worth £12.50 to the charity.

Are there any financial incentives to shop in charity shops?

Some bigger national charities operate loyalty schemes. For example, British Red Cross customers can earn points with their loyalty card and Oxfam customers can collect Nectar points when they shop.

Ask in your local shop if they run any incentive schemes where you can collect points when you shop or even get a percentage back from the amount your donations raise.

If you donate items to a particular branch, are they sold in that branch?

Generally yes, but sometimes if an unusual item is donated, like a wedding dress for example, they might have a shop where they know it will sell more easily. Even high-value items are often sold in the shop they were donated to.

What can I donate?

Different charity shops accept different things so you may want to check with your chosen charity first. But as a general rule most shops accept:

  • clean clothes and textiles like curtains, tablecloths and bedding
  • accessories − shoes, bags, jewellery
  • books
  • CDs and DVDs
  • toys
  • ornaments
  • pictures
  • crockery, cutlery and glassware
  • musical instruments
  • sports equipment.

Some charities will take furniture and working electrical items, but check with them before you make the trip. There are also furniture projects which can accept these and also collect large, bulky items for free.

What happens to things that shops don't want?

Clothes and textiles are recycled or exported. Ninety-eight per cent of donated items are used, if not, they are recycled (Source: Charity Retail Association)

More unusual items

If you have any of the following items, there are organisations that can make the most of donations like these:



Medical equipment

Sewing machines


Many opticians run charity programmes with second-hand glasses: