Donate It or Ditch It?
Donate: Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and others. In general, only furniture in good condition (not broken, torn, stained, or faded) is accepted. Although these are national organizations, furniture-donation standards and pickup policies vary by region. Also check with group homes and shelters in your area.
Trash: To dispose of furniture in bad shape, call your sanitation department or visit its website to find out about large-item pickup and local dump sites. Or check the Yellow Pages (try "Surplus and Salvage Merchandise") to find someone to haul it away.
CDs and Records
Donate: Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and others.
Sell: Used-CD shops or online. Keep in mind that on eBay or Amazon, a run-of-the-mill CD rarely fetches more than $5. Factor in the site's charge to the seller and the hassle of mailing to the buyer and decide if it's worth your time. The CD Exchange (thecdexchange.com) offers an easy alternative:
E-mail it a list of the CDs you want to sell (they should be in excellent condition, with liner notes) and the CD Exchange will respond within 24 hours, telling you what it will pay (in cash or merchandise credit). You mail the CD Exchange the discs, and it sends you a check. (The company has the Better Business Bureau Online seal of approval.)
- Donate: Check with your local Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or Muscular Dystrophy Association for their donation guidelines. The National Cristina Foundation (cristina.org) places refurbished computers in educational and nonprofit organizations for people with special needs. Generally, charities want computers in working order, with a Pentium-level or Power PC processor or better. Delete personal files, but be sure to leave the operating system and licensing information on the computer. You can find more tips on computer donation at techsoup.org.
- Sell: Computers are one of the best-selling categories on eBay. If your hardware is up-to-date, it could be worth the effort of putting it up for sale online.
- Trash: If your computer is more than five years old, it's probably best to recycle. Organizations such as the Computer Recycling Center (crc.org) accept obsolete computers and recycle unusable parts to keep them out of landfills.
Donate: Nationwide, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Vietnam Veterans of America accept all kinds of clothing in good condition. Also check with churches, local hospitals, women's shelters, and agencies that work with the homeless to see if they have clothing-donation programs.
Sell: If you have like-new designer clothes, a wedding dress, or a great collection of Levi's you want to unload, it might pay to sell on consignment. Consignment shops tend to be selective but, as a result, sell a large percentage of the merchandise they accept and get good prices for it.
Donate: Items for babies and children―from diapers (clean) to strollers―are highly sought after by charity-run thrift shops.
Sell: Clothes and accessories that are in excellent condition are also in demand at specialty consignment shops.
Toys and Games
Donate: Goodwill and the Salvation Army are glad to accept toys in good condition and games with all their pieces.
Sell: Consignment shops that specialize in children's merchandise will often take toys in good condition. While eBay has a busy toy marketplace, prices for noncollectibles tend to be on the low side. Consider the time, effort, and cost involved.
Donate: Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and other charities accept small appliances (toasters, mixers) in working condition. Policies on accepting large appliances (washers, dryers) vary by location; check with local branches. Or inquire with local nonprofits that run group homes about large-appliance donations.
Trash: Call your sanitation department or check its website to find out about large-item pickup and local dump sites. Or go to recycle-steel.org to find a large-appliance recycler near you.
Kitchen Equipment and Household Goods
Donate: Goodwill, the Salvation Army.
Sell: Certain high-end brands can fetch a decent price online. If you want to get rid of like-new All-Clad stainless-steel pans, for example, it might be worthwhile to offer them on eBay. Or look for a used-cookware dealer in your area.
Sports and Exercise Equipment
Donate: Goodwill, the Salvation Army; youth programs, schools.
Sell: If you have top-notch equipment in good condition, consider selling locally through Craigslist, since shipping large items can be costly.
Donate: Goodwill, the Salvation Army; schools, libraries, literacy programs, hospitals, senior centers.
Sell: Try your luck at local used-book stores (bear in mind that you'll rarely get what you paid), or, if you have rare or collectible titles, sell them on Amazon or eBay.