Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries
Serving Greater Cincinnati

3 Questions to Ask Before Donating to a Thrift Store

There’s nothing like cleaning out your closet to help you feel organized and refreshed. If it’s been a while since you decluttered, the change of seasons is a great time to purge your wardrobe and sort through items to decide what to keep and what to donate.

White box with clothing inside and 'donations' written on front

Donations box

But before you drop off a bag of gently-used clothing at your local thrift store, keep in mind that not all thrift stores are the same. It’s important to research in advance so you can make an informed and educated decision about where and how you choose to donate. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to make sure your donations have the most impact:

Am I donating to a non-profit charity organization or a for-profit company?

Not all thrift stores are operated for charitable causes. Some thrift stores are owned by for-profit companies and solicit donations on behalf of charity organizations, but they might only give a minimal percentage of their proceeds to the actual charity. And unfortunately, some for-profit stores even use charity-sounding names when they have no connection to a charity at all. If you want to make sure your donations provide the most benefit to people in need, it’s wise to do some research to find out if a valid non-profit organization operates the thrift store.

Unlike for-profit firms, which operate with the goal of generating revenue for stockholders, non-profits are solely motivated to support their mission. You can use online non-profit databases like GuideStar to find out if a charity is a legitimate, trusted nonprofit organization.

What’s the mission of the organization? Does it align with your values?

If a non-profit organization operates the thrift store, take some time to learn about their charitable mission. What does the organization support? Does it match your values? For example, at Ohio Valley Goodwill, our retail stores exist to fuel our mission of helping people overcome barriers to independence through the power of work. The dollars raised from the sale of donated goods in our stores go on to help fund job training and employment services for people with disabilities, our nation’s veterans, and others facing challenges to finding employment. You can learn more about individuals impacted by Ohio Valley Goodwill by reading our Success Stories.

Goodwill logo with tagline: we put people to work

What happens to your donation?

Finally, it’s important to find out how the thrift store will use your donation. What happens after you donate? At Ohio Valley Goodwill, all donations of clothing and household goods undergo a process to maximize their value. Items that meet our standards for safety and quality are sold at affordable prices in our retail stores, where the revenue raised helps fund Goodwill’s skills training and employment services for people who need them the most.


When we receive donations that cannot be resold, we work to recycle or salvage them to make the most of their value and prevent them from clogging local landfills. Collectively, Goodwill organizations have helped divert millions of pounds of recyclable and reusable materials from landfills! When you give to Ohio Valley Goodwill, you can be confident that your donation is used to make a positive impact in your community.

Ohio Valley Goodwill is a local, non-profit organization you can trust. We’ve served the Greater Cincinnati community for more than 100 years. As a member of Goodwill Industries International, we are a part of the world’s largest and most successful network providing employment and training services for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. Through the support of community members like you, we can continue to fund our mission and help change thousands of lives through the power of work.

Your donations make a difference! Find the donation site nearest you and be sure to view our list of items we can and cannot accept before you donate.