We’ve all seen the large donation bins in our neighborhood strip-mall parking lots. After a good spring cleaning in your apartment, it seems easy to take your goods and clothing to a local shopping center and drop off unwanted items.
However, most people don’t really appreciate the challenges that these bins create for both property owners and legitimate nonprofits. Many companies drop off bins in the middle of the night, without the knowledge of the property owners; they add to visual pollution, and they make a profit off your good intentions. Poorly maintained bins can create dangerous issues if they become a target for theft.
Larger nonprofits such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Goodwill seek permission from owners and managers to place bins in strategic locations, and they are careful to maintain them and ensure regular pickups to discourage crime and pollution. For these organizations who partner with local thrift shops, these bins create a critical revenue source for kids’ mentoring and other programs.
Some of these donation bins purport to benefit nonprofits, but it’s worth an extra search to see if this is truly the case. There are a number of operators who use the bins as a business, and they are not directly related to nonprofits. If your goal is to support a cause you care about, find out where that organization has bins or donation points. Some organizations will even come to your home for larger donation pickups. Every city regulates these bins in some ways to protect the public and property owners.