Donating Responsibly for Hurricane Relief
What to Know Before Donating Goods to Harvey Survivors
The NYC Department of Sanitation and donateNYC encourage the donation of unwanted, usable goods year-round to support the city’s Zero Waste efforts while helping New Yorkers in need. However, in times of disaster, attempting to help by donating unsolicited, used items can actually create obstacles by generating large amounts of waste and diverting much-needed energy and resources toward cleanup and away from those that need it most.
As Hurricane Harvey continues to devastate Texas with catastrophic flooding, New Yorkers who want to help may begin collecting items intended for use in relief operations. It is not unusual for community and civic groups to collect thousands of pounds of materials intended for donation – typically used clothing, canned food, and bottled water – realizing only afterward that they do not know where exactly to send the collection, what their transportation options are, or whether the items are actually needed.
It is typically at this point that such donations—particularly used clothing— become counterproductive and costly to manage, diverting volunteer resources to sorting and management. In the end, unsolicited donations often end up being recycled or disposed of.
Why Cash Donations are Best…And Less Wasteful
The good news is that the simplest and easiest way to support people affected by disasters is also the most economical, efficient, and environmentally friendly – through monetary donations to relief agencies.
Financial contributions enable professional relief organizations to purchase exactly what is most urgently needed by disaster survivors, when it is needed. Monetary donations allow relief supplies to be purchased near the disaster site, avoiding the delays and steep transportation and logistical costs that can hinder material donations sent from far away. Some commodities, particularly food and water, can almost always be purchased locally – even after devastating emergency situations.
Cash purchases also convey benefits beyond the items procured. They support local merchants and local economies, ensure that commodities are fresh and familiar to survivors, that supplies arrive expeditiously, and that goods are culturally, nutritionally, and environmentally appropriate.
In contrast, unsolicited household donations can clog supply chains, take up space that could better be used to prepare life-saving relief supplies for distribution, and divert relief workers’ time. Unsolicited collections of household items serve no useful function in the acute phase of an emergency operation. Managing piles of unrequested donations may actually add to the cost of relief work by forcing changes to logistical and distribution plans and creating more tasks for relief workers.
Where to Donate Cash?
New Yorkers looking to give should donate to an organization of their choice currently activated for relief operations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends contacting members of Texas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster [VOADs]
Back to School Season
Back to School Donations
Back to school season is upon us and donateNYC is here to help you give or find school supplies this fall. Back to school shopping can provide extra financial stress on already tight budgets but thankfully, many organizations throughout the city are hosting back to school drives for backpacks and other school supplies. If you are looking to donate goods, please check out our list below to find some places to donate your surplus school supplies. If you are looking to find back to school supplies, donateNYC partners are a great place to pick up backpacks and other back to school needs, so please consult our directory to find the store nearest to you!
If your organization is hosting a back to school drive of school supplies, please let us know so we can include it in our calendar.
Organize a back to school drive with donateNYC partner Good+ Foundation, which accepts new supplies and backpacks for children in need.
donateNYC partner Materials for the Arts accepts donations of certain back to school supplies year round; please consult their most wanted list to see their current needs before donating.
Coalition for the Homeless’ annual Project: Back to School partners with NYC companies, schools, and caring individuals to collect more than 4,000 NEW backpacks filled with everything students need in class. You can help a homeless girl or boy start the school year right with a simple donation of a backpack or any of the supplies on our wish list.
Every year, Volunteers of America operates their Operation Backpack campaign to give kids in NYC shelters a brand new backpack for the beginning of the school year. This year’s drive recently finished up so they are no longer accepting donations of supplies, but they are accepting monetary donations to purchase more backpacks for the campaign.
Join Habana Works for their 10th Annual Back To School Bash on Monday, September 4th from 11am-2pm. The event is free and so are the giveaway goodies such as recycled notebooks, pencils, rulers, and more!
National Thrift Store Day: Thursday, August 17th
National Thrift Store Day!
On Thursday, August 17, 2017, join donateNYC in celebrating National Thrift Store Day by shopping second-hand first.
Thrift Store Day celebrates New York’s vibrant reuse sector while also highlighting the many benefits of buying and donating gently used goods. Thrift and reuse stores not only save shoppers money, they also reduce waste, conserve resources, and help create green jobs. Buying second-hand from nonprofit thrift stores also provides the added benefit of supporting those organizations’ important social service missions.
To find locations where you can shop second-hand and celebrate Thrift Store Day, see our map of donateNYC partner stores — and make sure you click through to see which shops will be having special sales.
To close out the day in style, donateNYC is organizing a free Thrift Store Day shopping event in collaboration with our partners Housing Works, Goodwill, and Salvation Army. Join us from 5 - 8pm on Thrift Store Row in Gramercy for refreshments and 25% discounts at our three partners’ 23rd Street locations! For more information and to register for the event, see our Eventbrite page
Donation Spotlight: From Workwear to Weaving
In March, donateNYC was contacted by another government agency looking to dispose of almost 1000 outdated uniform shirts responsibly and without producing waste. The catch? Because the shirts were decommissioned uniforms, they could not be worn by recipients—but who would accept over half a ton of unwearable shirts?
Ever grateful for the creative network of donateNYC Partners, our staff knew just who to contact: enter Teaching Beyond the Square and their thriving Materials Center. The Materials Center, a community resource hub established in partnership with Manny Cantor Center, features a huge collection of “found” items, gathered and donated by New Yorkers. Programming at the Materials Center transforms objects from our everyday lives and shows that nothing is waste until it is wasted. Workshops centered on rethinking ordinary materials encourage creative expression and problem solving while teaching the importance of repurposing over rejecting objects—such as the decommissioned uniforms—that are no longer useful in their original roles.
When donateNYC reached out to Robin Koo of the Materials Center about the shirts, she saw an opportunity and put the hundreds of pounds of fabric to use right away. On Earth Day, the Materials Center hosted a workshop teaching participants how to convert the shirts into cotton yarn that can be used for a variety of activities such as knitting, crocheting, and weaving. The group snipped and sewed for two hours, creating a large supply of yarn; each participant went home with one ball of yarn for every five t-shirts converted so they could spread the upcycling spirit to their own homes.
The Materials Center has planned some exciting community programs around the yarn made from the donated uniforms. During a few Friday evenings in May, the senior citizens participating in Educational Alliance’s Older Adults program will lead crocheting/knitting workshops using it and on May 30th, participants in Teaching Beyond the Square’s spring symposium will also work with it. The symposium, geared toward educators, will feature activities demonstrating how to deconstruct, transform, convert, and reuse fabric in a variety of ways and with a variety of tools, as well as guided discussions on the ways in which such reuse activities can enrich classroom-based teaching and learning.
In addition to the uniform shirts, Teaching Beyond the Square has claimed and given new life to many other items through donateNYC. Robin explained participation in donateNYC’s network of reuse has come with meaningful benefits, and not just for TBTS itself:
“Prior to our connection with donateNYC and its Partners, we were only collecting materials from our direct surrounding community. In just the few months since we have joined the donateNYC Partnership, our network has widened, giving us access to some great materials, such as 15 overhead projectors and 14,000 brand new credential passes, which we have redistributed to public and independent schools located all around the city. Having joined the donateNYC network of materials reuse, our organization is now part of a larger community of New Yorkers committed to the idea and practice of reuse, and that has been invaluable. The process of reuse and repurposing works better when it feels like you are a part of a community.”
What began as an inconvenient surplus of outdated uniforms has transformed into a set of tools that will demonstrate the value of reuse over and over again. Does your organization have a large amount of items that you don’t want to throw out but can’t seem to repurpose? Create a listing on the donateNYC Exchange and put our staff, Partners, and Exchange users to the test! Surplus can find second life in the right hands.
2016 donateNYC Partnership Report
The 2016 donateNYC Partnership Report
The donateNYC Partnership Annual Report highlights the significant contributions of donateNYC Partners to the local donations and reuse community. In 2016, donateNYC Partners diverted over 85.5 million pounds of goods from the landfill with 88% percent of that consisting of food and textiles. donateNYC partners reached more than 1.4 million New Yorkers through family services, housing, health care, professional development, food bank programs, and more. The work of donateNYC partners is critical in supporting the City’s zero waste initiative, which aims to send zero waste to landfills by 2030.
The donateNYC Partnership Report also explores the growth of the partnership. In 2016, the partnership expanded to over 40 nonprofit organizations consisting of 100+ locations across the five boroughs. Partners are offered a variety of benefits including networking opportunities, professional development classes, promotional opportunities, and more. A new service offered to donateNYC Partners in 2016 was the opportunity to submit proposals for new and innovative donation and reuse projects. The inaugural award winners, Friends of Materials for the Arts, Lower East Side Ecology Center & PowerMyLearning, and Recycle-A-Bicycle all presented their winning projects at the 2017 donateNYC conference. The 2016 Partnership Report celebrates the remarkable accomplishments of all of the donateNYC partners – a group of organizations with varying missions that are united by their shared commitment to reducing waste and dedication to social goods.
The donateNYC Partnership serves as a “reuse trade association” supporting local nonprofit reuse organizations in New York City. donateNYC provides Partner organizations with a range of programs and services, including promotional opportunities, networking and training events, and environmental impact assessment. If your organization is interested in learning more about the donateNYC Partnership Conference or Partnership program, please contact us!
2017 Partnership Conference
2017 Partnership Conference
For the 10th year, the annual donateNYC Partnership Conference, presented by NYC Center for Materials Reuse (NYC CMR) and funded by NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY), brought together over 100 attendees representing donateNYC Partners, other nonprofits, local reuse businesses, and city officials in order to network, learn, explore collaboration opportunities, and discuss the overall state of reuse in New York City.
This year’s conference began with NYC Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia reaffirming the importance of donations and reuse in the City’s 0x30 initiative, which aims to send zero waste to landfills by 2030. The agenda for the conference focused on the concept of a circular economy and the essential role donations and reuse play. The conference also explored product repair and the need for designing goods more thoughtfully for longevity and featured presentations from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Steelcase, Pop-Up Repair and more. DSNY and NYC CMR also debuted the 2017 Reuse Sector Report, which illustrates the first extensive research project undertaken to define, examine, and describe the scope of the entire reuse sector throughout the five boroughs.
The donateNYC Partnership serves as a “reuse trade association” supporting local nonprofit reuse organizations in New York City. donateNYC provides Partner organizations with a range of programs and services, including promotional opportunities, networking and training events ,and environmental impact assessment. If your organization is interested in learning more about the donateNYC Partnership Conference or Partnership program, please contact us!
2017 donateNYC Flea Market Guide
Check out the 2017 donateNYC Flea Market Guide!
With warm weather rapidly approaching, we believe there is no time better to highlight one of our favorite ways to shop secondhand: flea markets! Whether you are a lover of vintage clothing or a thrift enthusiast looking for a bargain, New York City’s flea markets have something for you. Our handy flea market guide provides you with information on all of the city’s seasonal and year-round markets so that you can spend less time searching and more time shopping secondhand. New markets pop up all the time, so check back often to find new gems as they’re added. Finally, if you know of any flea markets that we may have missed, feel free to contact us here so we can update the guide.
Register your business or nonprofit now!
If your business or nonprofit accepts second-hand or surplus material goods in NYC, for either re-sell or to distribute to social service clients, then you may qualify for various city-funded services from donateNYC and the NYC Department of Sanitation. Read below to discover the service(s) that apply to you and your business or nonprofit.
This website provides several convenient tools and resources to help New Yorkers keep usable goods out of the waste stream:
Click here to have your organization (thrift shop, nonprofit, antique store, etc.) listed on the donateNYC website as a place where residents can donate, purchase, or receive second-hand goods. donateNYC lists hundreds of places throughout NYC where residents can donate or find second-hand goods, make sure organization is listed by registering now!
The donateNYC Exchange is designed to help NYC based organizations either find or donate surplus materials. Common items made available and posted on the exchange include things like surplus office furniture and bulk workplace supplies. Register here If your organization has items in bulk to donate or is interested in receiving donations of bulk items.
If your organization is a nonprofit organization with operations in NYC that regularly accepts and distributes second-hand goods, then you may qualify to become a donateNYC Partner. Find out more about the donateNYC Partnership by clicking here.
Discover where the nearest place is to either donate or find second-hand goods by searching the donateNYC website or mobile app (iOS & Android). Both will allow you to enter your exact location to locate all the opportunities to give and find goods that are just around the corner.