In today's column about "Competition for Castoffs," I wrote that charities are working harder for revenue by picking up our donations curbside. It's a great service to have our stuff picked up free. We spend part of a weekend cleaning out the garage or the attic or the closet and then we  can just put the stuff in bags or boxes for the Salvation Army, DAV, Courage Center, Epilepsy or Lupus foundations to cart away.



I suspect that many of us don't spend much time poring over a charity's mission statement to determine which one gets our castoffs. For me it used to be simply a matter of first come first served. They all seem like worthy charities.

But I have to admit that my research for the story made me think twice about leaving my donations out to be picked up instead of hauling them to the charity myself.  Here's the kicker: A charity can make six times more cash for its mission when a donor drops off the goods instead of letting them be picked up, said Laurel Hansen at Arc's Value Village. 

Here's why. Let's say you put out one bag of assorted clothes, including a pair of designer jeans, for the Epilepsy Foundation. The Foundation, like most larger charities with a pickup program, sells the picked-up donations to Savers or Unique Thrift Store by the pound. A bag of clothes might weigh 5 pounds and since most charities only get about 30 to 40 cents a pound, the charity only gets about $2 for the bag of clothes.

Because we all contribute a lot of stuff, this can really add up, but if you took the same bag of clothes and dropped it off at Arc or Salvation Army or Goodwill, the designer jeans alone might be sold for $20.  Even after the retail store overhead is factored in, said Hansen, a single pair of jeans can net the charity $10. In a bag that's sold to Savers, the same pair of jeans nets the charity about 30 cents. (Jeans weigh about  a pound and the charity is paid about 30 cents a pound by Savers.)

Anyone else want to weigh in on how you donate your castoffs?