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:
|Rosanna Inc, Dessert plates||4||10/15/2010||Salvation Army|
|KitchenAid Stand Mixer||1||10/15/2010||Salvation Army|
|Misc. Kitchen utensils||10||10/15/2010||Salvation Army|
|Torchiere Lamp||1||10/15/2010||Salvation Army|
|Anchor Hocking Mixing Bowl||3||10/15/2010||Salvation Army|
|Pyrex Baking dish||1||10/15/2010||Salvation 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.