When someone has an item they no longer need they may wonder if they should try to get a few dollars by selling it at a garage sale or on Gum Tree. Sometimes they know someone who could make good use of it or they may advertise it as a giveaway on Freecycle, Gumtree or on a community notice board. Donating the item to charity is sometimes an option. Other times they may decide to put it out the front of their house with a note offering it to anyone who wants it.
Some people don't like to give things away and would rather get a few dollars for things they no longer need. However, donating something has many benefits not just to the receiver but the giver.
Benefits of donating
Did you know research has shown those who are generous tend to have better health and live longer?
Giving things away can lower blood pressure. Research carried out in 2006 and published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology said people who gave things away and provided support in other ways tended to have lower blood pressure. Not surprisingly, they also got greater support from others in return.
Donating instead of selling reduces stress in the giver. A 2013 study which involved 846 participants in the United States showed those who helped others without expecting anything in return experienced less stress in their daily lives.
Giving items away for free promotes social connections and cooperation. People who receive something for free are more likely to give to others. Friendships can be formed or strengthened through giving, whether it be some free range eggs, vegetables or a piece of furniture. Neighbours may become friends and regularly swap things which builds up a feeling of goodwill.
The results of a 2008 study showed those who donated money felt a higher level of happiness than if they had spent it on themselves. Giving also causes oxytocin to be released which makes the giver feel connected to others and 'warm and fuzzy'.
Whether you are giving away items to people you know, leaving them on the verge with a note inviting someone to help themselves, or dropping a few things off at your local charity, the benefits are the same.
Points to remember when donating to charity
Ensure the item is clean and in good order.
Don't put unsaleable items in collection bins as the shop will have to pay to dispose of them.
Check what items the charity can make use of. Many do not accept electrical items for safety reasons.
Some charities accept furniture but many don't.
Some can collect furniture.
. Collection bins at a Salvos thrift shop. Image by Marie Vonow
Points to consider if leaving items out the front of property
There may be local council regulations prohibiting the placing of items on the verge as this is council property.
A better option may be to leave the item just inside your gate on your property.
Firmly affix a note informing people they can take the item.
Ensure anything you leave out for free is not an eyesore.
If no one takes the item do not leave it out to deteriorate in the rain.
Be aware of the possibility of someone smashing the screen of a television and causing a mess. Maybe it is better to advertise it for free and arrange for an interested party to collect it from you in person.
Giving things away is one method of freeing yourself of unwanted goods which have become clutter in your life. Decluttering makes you feel good and is another benefit of donating unwanted items.