Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Keeping Track of Your Donations

With all this purging and decluttering, we've been making a lot of donations to our local Goodwill/Salvation Army. On top of giving me warm-fuzzies and helping to clear the clutter from our home, these donations became a helpful write-off when we did our taxes this year. Our accountant was pretty impressed that I had kept track of what we had donated. He said most people aren't very good about that information, they usually just have the receipts.

So I thought I'd share some tips for keeping track of and valuing what you donate.

1. Keep a detailed list of what you have donated and how much of it you have donated. I recomend starting a document on your computer where you can keep track of all of your donated goods for the year (perhaps a spreadsheet of what/when/where you donated). For clothing, just keep track of the category of clothing and how many items in each category. Break them down by Women's/Men's/Children. For household items, include name brand if there is one.
Your list might look something like this:
Casual shirt39/5/2010Goodwill
Dress shirt69/5/2010Goodwill
Men's clothing
Casual shirt29/5/2010Goodwill
Dress shirt49/5/2010Goodwill
Rosanna Inc, Dessert plates410/15/2010Salvation Army
KitchenAid Stand Mixer110/15/2010Salvation Army
Misc. Kitchen utensils1010/15/2010Salvation Army
Tablecloth310/15/2010Salvation Army
Torchiere Lamp110/15/2010Salvation Army
Anchor Hocking Mixing Bowl310/15/2010Salvation Army
Pyrex Baking dish110/15/2010Salvation Army

 2. Take photos of your items. You don't necesarily need to photograph EVERYTHING, but it is a good idea when you are donating a lot of items and/or "big ticket" items. If you create a list on your computer, you can easily paste the photos into the same document.

3. Keep a copy of your list, photos and receipts together with your tax documents, that way you don't have to scramble to find them come tax time.

4. Utilize a valuation guide to estimate the value of your donations each time you donate. The Salvation Army has a really great guide, which you can find here. Our accountant told us the vast majority of people actually undervalue their donations.

There you have it folks, my quick tips for keeping track of your donations.

Remember, keeping this type of record is not only useful for making sure you value your donations properly, but is necessary if you are ever audited by the IRS.


  1. Thanks for the tips!! By the way, the link on your FB wall post doesn't work.

  2. I was afraid of that. I have been having trouble getting it to post. Hopefully people will find their way! :) Would you mind pasting the right link into the comments on there or something?

  3. Good info! I learned this for the first time this year while doing the taxes, and will do a better job for 2011.


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