Tag Archives: donations

5 Ways to Make Letting Go Easier

Freedom letting go

Here are 5 of the most common hurdles we see folks face when trying to shed off things they no longer use and need:

It’s Too Precious for Goodwill

  • Find a charity you like and believe in and one you feel really appreciates your donations – it will help ease your attachments and satisfy that need for things to go to a “good” home.

It’s Worth Too Much To Give Away

  • Are you sure? What you paid for it and what it’s worth now are rarely the same. Get confirmation from an auction house (usually can text pictures or bring things in on a free appraisal day). If you find out it’s not worth what you thought, you may be willing to just donate. And if it really is valuable you can sell it through a buyer or auction house.

I Don’t Want It To End Up In Landfill

  • Try Freecycle, Craigslist, NextDoor for items that are not donatable (particle board furniture).
  • Take advantage of the Bay Area’s unique donation options such as Urban Ore, East Bay Depot for Creative Re-Use, and SCRAP
  • Some things really are trash and we have to accept that. The only way to stop that kind of outflow is not to buy it in the first place!

I Could Use This Someday

  • Beware of prioritizing the future over the present. Having a space crowded with “maybe, someday” can keep you from living fully in the present. You need to weigh that cost against the cost of possibly having to replace something if you do actually need it later.

I Feel Guilty Giving It Up

  • Ah, good old guilt. So impractical, yet so tenacious! Sometimes it helps to put the shoe on the other foot…would you want someone else to hang onto a gift you gave them solely out of obligation if they really didn’t need or want it?
  • Try a little ritual of appreciation to help relieve guilt before releasing an object. For gifts, take a moment and recognize the good intention someone had when they gave it. For other items, acknowledge the pleasure or service the item gave you. For example, to let greeting cards go, our friend Maggie thinks of the person who gave it to her and gives the card/letter/Christmas picture a kiss before she puts it in recycling

There are no rights and wrongs in your own process; as usual, you get to decide how much to keep and what to let go. Beware how much of a project you’re creating for yourself and how much are you willing to do. Keep in mind your larger goal of how you want your home to function and feel and let that be your constant guide!

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Perspective, Strategies

Clutter-Free Gifts

As Professional Organizers, we meet people who are anxious about what to give their loved ones that are personal, valued and “green.” One solution is to give “consumable” gifts. The advantage of a consumable gift is it gives the recipient a special experience, doesn’t take up any room and doesn’t leave behind any clutter.

food gifts

Edibles and Drinkables

  • Gift baskets of food – nice fruits, cheeses, nuts, chocolates. Who wouldn’t want to try a variety of yummy foods put together by you…or from your favorite vendor? The SF Bay Area is home to many artisan chocolate and food makers; a basket of local treats makes a personal touch.
  • Your parents might appreciate a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant or one you think they’d like.
  • Gift an invitation to dine out with you at the hot new restaurant or a known old favorite – your treat of course!
  • Teens love gift cards to Peet’s, Starbucks, ice cream, lunch food.
  • How about a wine or beer club membership?

 

live-escape-game-1155620_640

Entertainment

  • Consider an outing to an Escape Room – a group game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles.
  • Tickets or gift certificates to movies, dance, theater, museums or sports events can be prized by people who can’t seem to justify frivolous expenses.
  • How about Poetry by Request?  My colleague, Claire Tompkins brings her trusty Royal typewriter to events and creates personalized poetry on demand.
  • Subscriptions to entertainment services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix can provide easy access to movies and entertainment at home.
  • Gift of a special outing with you: ice skating, a picnic in the park, a visit to a children’s museum, the zoo or an amusement park.
  • Annual pass for a ski resort or for a fun place like Six Flags Magic Mountain.
  • Lottery tickets make great stocking stuffers!
  • Did you know that AirBNB offers gift cards?

cooking-class

Education

  • Get cooking!  Kitchen on Fire offers a variety of classes. Cooking lessons are fun to do with a group or with one special friend: either at a store, a cooking school or in your own kitchen.
  • A stack of specialty magazines on gaming or weaving or architecture – whatever they’re into – are a treat!
  • Would your giftee love an art or other adult education class?  Offer to take it with them!
  • How about a subscription to a meditation website such as Headspace – a gym for your head?
  • A block of classes at the local pilates or yoga studio can inspire them to get going on their health goals.
  • Sign them up for a historical tour of a local hot spot

relaxation

Pampering

  • Massages, facials, and nail services are always welcome treats
  • A thorough and expert housecleaning session is great for folks who always do it themselves
  • Hot tub session at a place such as Piedmont Springs
  • Do you know someone who complains about the state of their closets, garage or playroom? Give the gift of a session with a professional organizer!

 

personal gift certificate

Your Time

  • What do YOU do well? Offer a session with your loved one sharing your skills and time with them: interior design help, personal shopping, gardening, back rubs, clutter-clearing, cooking a meal or teaching a cooking technique, a personalized sight-seeing tour, iPhone instruction-sessions…the sky’s the limit!

Remember to follow up with your giftee. Sometimes people forget about gift certificates. Put a reminder in your calendar for a couple months in the future to touch back with your recipient. Re-invite them to take you up on your offer of a fun experience or remind them of the gift certificate you gave them.

Have a great consumable gift idea? Share it here!

 

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Holidays, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Organize Your Charitable Giving

Giving for Change

It’s end of the year and the charities are out in force with their hands outstretched. Do you succumb to every request?  Or do you give nothing out of overwhelm? Having a strategy will help make this process more satisfying and deserving charities will appreciate you.

Who to give to? 

  • You can sort charities by their mission to focus on the ones that have the most meaning to you or your family.  Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance are two organizations that research charities based on their financial health and accountability. A good benchmark for a worthwhile charity is having at least 75% of their income spent on the the non-profit’s mission.  One of our clients recommends Charity Navigator because they provide a rating for each of the 1,600 charities they research and you can do all your donation tracking and giving through them.
  • Ask your friends who they give to.  It can be a very enlightening conversation.
  • Keep a running list of your favorite charities and donations given. This helps at tax time but the bigger purpose is to avoid confusion about what you’ve given and to whom.“Did I give to ‘Children’s Alliance’ or ‘Children’s Allies’?” A spreadsheet or chart can help you track how much you give year-to-year.

How often to give?

Taking control of how often you give helps avoid feeling pressured every time you get a solicitation in the mail.

  • Rotate donations into monthly bills
  • Recurring automatic donation payments have the convenience of knowing you’re supporting your cause without having to remember to do it. Guaranteed monthly donations also help with an organization’s cash flow.
  • Setting aside a time to donate once a quarter or once a year helps you keep perspective.
  • If you are concerned about tax or estate planning considerations, work with a wealth manager, estate-planning lawyer or certified financial planner on your giving strategy.

Do you give a donation and later find yourself inundated with multiple requests from other charities?

Charities have varying privacy policies. According to Charity Navigator, the more small donations you give, the more likely your name will be sold to other organizations.  Charities are more likely to protect the privacy of their larger donors. The reason is; small donations barely cover the cost of processing them.  They can make more money by selling your name. Once you establish your list of favorite charities, just recycle any solicitations that aren’t on your list.

What to do with all the solicitations that flood the mail?

This depends on how complete your list of charities is. If you feel the need to hang onto solicitations to consider “later” create one box or folder to catch them and sift through them regularly to eliminate duplicates.

Does this make giving any easier? If so, then go out there and share the wealth.

 

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Filed under Decluttering, home organizing, Office, organizing, Paper, Strategies

Clearing Out a House With Grace

Resale, recycle and reuse options prevent unnecessary landfill

Resale, recycle and reuse options prevent unnecessary landfill

A client was under a time pressure to clear her parent’s house in order to get it on the market as soon as possible.  The house was filled with decades of family history and possessions. What to do??

She really wanted to recoup some of the value of the items in the home, keep as much out of landfill as possible and have the removal process flow at a pace that felt less radical and more thoughtful than a one-time hauling or donation pickup.

For this client the perfect solution was an estate liquidator recommended by her real estate agent.  In this case, there were enough items of value in the home to hold an estate sale and the house was situated to make it easy to put everything on display.  She was able to make some money. The added bonus of the estate liquidator is they can deal with the entire contents of the house – everything from the food in the cupboards to the scrap wood in the basement…leaving the house broom-clean with as much sold as possible — donating and giving away all the rest.

If you’re faced with the challenge of clearing a home – consider taking the time to reflect on what would be the most elegant solution for you; one that takes into account the kind and value of the items being cleared out,  one that honors the original owner and a solution that suits your style.

Check out our post from 2015 where we listed various ways to clear a house. What graceful solutions have you come up with to clear space in your home?

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Filed under Moving, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse

Gift Guilt

Unwanted gifts can clutter our homes. How can we deal with the guilt of passing on things we don't want or can't use?

Unwanted gifts can clutter our homes. How can we deal with the guilt of passing on things we don’t want or can’t use?

The hand knit sweater from Aunt Martha that you’d never be caught dead in…the set of candles from a co-worker that you know you’ll never use…the dishtowels from your sister that she’ll probably notice if you don’t put out…

Now that the holidays are over, take preventative measures right away – don’t let unwanted gifts clutter up your closets and drawers!

It’s The Thought That Counts

  • A gift is a show of kindness or love to you, not a contract you must honor
  • You can receive and keep the good intention of a gift independent of the item given

The Closer The Giver, The Stronger The Stick

Post-Its® Gifts: from acquaintances or people you know you won’t see or will never be in your house.

  • Sending an unwanted item back out into the world allows it to be used and appreciated by someone who chooses it purposefully

Scotch Tape® Gifts: the gifts from friends we like a lot. They may never know you got rid of the item but you will and that alone makes you feel bad.

  • If someone really cares about you they would want you to surround yourself with things you love
  • When possible, be honest with friends and family about what you don’t like; it helps them know you better

 Duct Tape® Gifts: the stickiest. Usually from vey close relatives and friends, AND there’s a good chance they will notice if a particular gift isn’t in use.

  • Remember, your feeling about the gift is not a reflection of how you feel about them or how much you appreciate that they gifted you
  • If they bring up the gift in question, reinforce your appreciation of their generosity or sentiment while remembering that it is truly is up to you what fills your home

Look through your unwanted gifts and think about how sticky the attachments are. Lighten your gift guilt by focusing on the least sticky items. Picture them being happily used…by someone else!

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Filed under General Organizing, Holidays, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse

5 Clutter-Free Gifts

Last week we focused on great gifts to help people stay organized. This week we focus on “consumable” gifts. The advantage of a consumable gift is it gives the recipient a special experience, doesn’t take up any room and doesn’t leave behind any clutter.

gingerbread people

Edibles and Drinkables

  • Your parents might appreciate a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or one you think they’d like
  • Gift an invitation to dine out with you at the hot new restaurant or a known old favorite – your treat of course!
  • Teens love gift cards to Peet’s, Starbucks, ice cream, lunch food
  • Gift baskets of food – nice fruits, cheeses, nuts, chocolates. Who wouldn’t want to try a variety of yummy foods put together by you…or from your favorite vendor? The SF Bay Area is home to many artisan chocolate and food makers; a basket of local treats makes a personal touch.
  • How about a wine club membership? …or a Beer-of-the-Month Club subscription?

movie night

Entertainment

  • Tickets or gift certificates to movies, dance, theater, museums or sports events can be prized by people who can’t seem to justify frivolous expenses
  • Subscriptions to entertainment services such as Amazon Prime or Netflix can provide easy access to movies and entertainment at home
  • Gift of a special outing with you: ice skating, a picnic in the park, a visit to a children’s museum, the zoo or an amusement park
  • Annual pass for a ski resort or for a fun place like Six Flags Magic Mountain
  • Lottery tickets make great stocking stuffers!

Holiday Tamale Workshop

Education

  • Get cooking!  Sur La Table offers a holiday tamale workshop. Cooking lessons are fun to do with a group or with one special friend: either at a store, a cooking school or in your own kitchen
  • A stack of specialty magazines on gaming or weaving or architecture – whatever they’re into – are a treat!
  • Would your giftee love an art or other adult education class?  Offer to take it with them!
  • How about a subscription to a meditation website such as Headspace – a gym for your head?
  • A block of classes at the local pilates or yoga studio can inspire them to get going on their health goals
  • Sign them up for a historical tour of a local hot spot

relaxation

Pamper

  • Trips to your local water park are memorable events
  • Massages, facials, and nail services are always welcome treats
  • A thorough and expert housecleaning session is great for folks who always do it themselves (Locally we recommend Casa Azul and Cleaning Solutions)
  • Hot tub session at a place such as Piedmont Springs
  • Do you know someone who complains about the state of their closets, garage or playroom? Give the gift of a session with a professional organizer!

offer help in the garden

Your Time

  • What do YOU do well? Offer a session with your loved one sharing your skills and time with them: interior design help, personal shopping, gardening, back rubs, clutter-clearing, cooking a meal or teaching a cooking technique, a personalized sight-seeing tour, iPhone instruction-sessions…the sky’s the limit!

Remember to follow up with your giftee. Sometimes people forget about gift certificates. Put a reminder in your calendar for sometime in January or February to touch back with your recipient. Reinvite them to take you up on your offer of a fun experience or remind them of the gift certificate you gave them.

Have a great consumable gift idea? Share it here! Happy gifting and happy holidays!

 

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Holidays, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

Surprising Things Goodwill® Will Take

You’ll be surprised by what some Goodwill® Stores will take!

The bay area chapter of NAPO recently hosted a field trip to the Goodwill® of San Francisco, San Mateo & Marin headquarters. We were surprised to learn the range of items Goodwill® takes because it has downstream markets worldwide.

We were excited to share this information with our readers but in checking our local Goodwill® region, Goodwill® of the Greater East Bay, their policies are not as broad.

In addition to the standard re-useable household items and clothing, most Goodwill®s will also take the following –

  • Down blankets
  • Decorative pillows (living room type)
  • Vinyl records
  • TV and CRT monitors, working or not

As with most charities, Goodwill® does NOT take:

  • Used bed pillows or mattresses
  • Furniture made from particle board
  • Microwaves
  • Weapons
  • Baby Equipment
  • Garbage

Leading the way in the area of re-use and re-purposing is the Goodwill® of San Francisco, San Mateo & Marin. Beyond what they can re-sell in their stores, they collect items to sell in downstream markets outside of the Bay Area.

  • Single shoes (there are amputees worldwide who can use a single shoe)
  • Rags
  • Dirty clothes (separate from clean)
  • Damaged/dirty/mildew contaminated fabrics, dirty, worn-out shoes, severely damaged and worn pots and pans
  • High end items to be re-sold on eBay

Here are ways for you to help Goodwill® get the most from your donations:

  • Separate donations by category  Marking bags/boxes with categories saves them time
  • Décor – glass items need to be wrapped separately to prevent breakage
  • Toys – keep boxes sealed so they don’t spill their contents and become unsellable

Expect Exceptions

Each Goodwill® location will have different rules for what they will accept. Call ahead or check your local website before making a trip.

Give yourself the gift of good feeling as you clear clutter and give to a charity that helps people enter the workplace through skills training and education.

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse