Donation etiquette


Dragonfly. Photography by Nicola Timberlake.

No one likes creepy-crawlies. Well, no one that I know anyway.

So why is it, that often when some one donates a box of “stuff” to an op-shop, it’s ten years since it was last looked in? Do you know how many bugs can move into that box in that time??

The simplest rule of donating: check through things before you give them away. My mother and sister volunteer at a Vinnies store, and they were telling me some horror stories on the weekend (hence the inspiration for this article).

For example, dead mice found at the bottom of boxes people have bought straight from their garage. A cobwebby jacket that revealed a (live) huntsman in residence on closer inspection. Clothes that have been at the back of a cupboard in a bag for so long, that when said bag is opened you nearly pass out from the mould and mildewy smell.

This is not what volunteers should have to deal with. People who are paid shouldn’t have to deal with that stuff!

So here are a few simple tips to make a volunteer’s life easier, and to help guarantee your box of “stuff” won’t be thrown straight out in disgust.

  • Clean your clothes before donating to the op-shop.
  • A box of odds and ends that’s been left alone for more than a few months really needs to be checked. Who knows what could have taken up residence in there?

    Jumping spider

    Jumping spider. Image by Arvind Balaraman.

  • In general, just check things to make sure they’re okay. There’s no point donating electrical goods that don’t work. Many op-shops refuse to accept electrical things because they are not allowed to check them themselves. If they can’t check it, and end up selling something that is out of order, the customer returns it and complains.
  • Some organisations have overviews on what they can and can’t accept. Check their websites before donating.
Following these simple steps could help make a volunteer’s life a lot easier down the track.