Not all clothing donation bins are charitable

Clothing donation bin

Careful which clothing donation bins you give clothes to, not all are for a worthy cause. Photo Credit: Albert Herring/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Unfortunately, charities have been revealed over the years to be more crooked than a barrel of snakes, or in other words half as dishonest as Congress. Nothing is ever as it seems, from mailers to phone campaigns; even clothing donation bins aren’t entirely on the level.

Clothing donation bins not always what they seem

Not everything that looks like a charity is a charity and not every charity spends all that much on anything charitable. That’s already fairly well-documented for mainstream charities, as a number of foundations asserting they do good work from causes like cancer and veteran’s aid have been exposed as frauds.

Another type of charity that one should keep a bit of an eye on is clothing donation bins. Usually one sees them in grocery stores and other locations in late fall. The idea is that gently-used warm clothing can be given to people who need it. That isn’t always what happens, according to USA Today.

Some are padding the bottom line for free

Many different entities collect from clothing donation bins, but not all of them give clothing to the needy. Some sell it and put the proceeds to use for those that need it or a portion. Some are for-profit recyclers that are getting free materials from the public.

For instance, USAgain takes coats, for free, and sells the recyclable material such as textiles, filling material and so forth, around the world. Granted, much of it would just end up in landfills, which an estimated 85 percent of textiles do. USAgain certainly is doing good, by recycling, and certainly has a good business model.

Planet-Aid has a similar business model; according to the Philadelphia Daily News, Planet-Aid likewise sells recycled textiles but asserts that as a non-profit, proceeds from said sales go to charitable causes. However, only 28 percent of proceeds, according to USA Today, wind up going to charities.

Goodwill and the Salvation Army, on the other hand, either sell donated coats in their second-hand stores, or give them to needy people.

Not a new scheme

This isn’t exactly new, either; InsideEdition found in Dec. 2011 that a number of for-profit companies, such as Binler and H&M Leasing, were running clothing donation bins operations on behalf of non-profits. They operate the bins and take the donations, but take a deep cut of the money generated by selling the donated goods, not dissimilar to how for-profit fundraising companies will keep a portion, if not the bulk or total sum, of funds they assert to be raising for a charitable foundation.

The article didn’t mention whether or not they were doing the report live.

The best thing to do is to take a good close look at the bins, if one is curious. If there is any question about whether it’s legit or not, just take one’s donation straight to a charitable organization one actually can trust. Cutting out the middle man whenever possible will help ensure a successful and ultimately effective donation.


USA Today

Philadelphia Daily News


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