Is it time to replace your old electronic device, such as an old computer, cellphone, gaming console, or TV?
Rather than tossing it or letting it collect dust in storage, donate it to a worthy cause. Whether or not it’s still working, your obsolete device can gain new life or bring in much-needed cash for those in need.
Even better, though you may consider them garbage, your unwanted electronics can bring you a financial benefit in the form of a tax deduction if you itemize on your tax return.
And there are plenty of worthy charities across the United States that gladly accept donations of old electronics.
Where to Donate Used Electronics
Different charities use your electronics in different ways.
Some refurbish and sell them for cash if they’re still usable or recycle totaled gadgets for the value of their parts. Your old cellphones and computers contain a significant amount of valuable metal, plastic, glass, copper, and silver they can recover and reuse. The proceeds fund their programs.
Other charities donate refurbished electronics directly to those in need. So if that’s something that matters to you, research the charity’s methods before donating.
If you plan to take the tax deduction for your donation, ensure you get a receipt from the charity, and keep it for your tax records in case of a tax audit.
Regardless of your motivations for donating or what type of charity you want to donate to, your donation can do the most good if you give it to organizations that can make the most of that device.
Where to Donate Used Computers
Before donating a computer to charity, back up all your files. Then wipe the internal hard drive to eliminate personal identifying information.
Even if a charity says it can do so for you, never rely on the donation center. Do it yourself before donating. If you’re not sure how, follow Digital Trend’s instructions.
After you’ve wiped the drive, donate it to one of these worthy charities.
With more than 3,200 thrift stores around the country, Goodwill Industries is one of the most popular places to donate used goods to. And used electronics, including computers, are no exception. Goodwill sells your donations in its brick-and-mortar thrift stores and on its online auction site, shopgoodwill.com.
Goodwill uses the proceeds from the sale of donated goods for employment training and job-placement programs. Specifically, Goodwill serves those with barriers to employment, including individuals with disabilities, those with limited work history, recipients of government support programs, those with language barriers, and those who’ve experienced corporate downsizing.
It partners with Dell to collect donated computers, which Dell recycles or refurbishes if they’re unsaleable in Goodwill’s thrift stores.
Goodwill accepts all makes and models of computers as well as computer accessories.
To drop off a computer for resale, recycling, or refurbishment, visit the Dell Reconnect partnership site to discover whether the service is available through your local Goodwill. Then, simply deliver your old computer to the nearest participating Goodwill.
2. World Computer Exchange
World Computer Exchange (WCE) is an international nonprofit organization that provides donated computers to organizations in developing countries. To accomplish its mission, it partners with 5,000 organizations throughout Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
Specifically, WCE uses donated computers to build computer labs in primary schools and colleges in more than 78 underdeveloped countries, where students often lack access to computers or the Internet. Most of their donations come from libraries, universities, and businesses, but individuals are also welcome to donate.
It only accepts working computers of specific makes and models. It also takes working tablets, laptop computers, cellphones, keyboards, mice, cables, power cords, computer parts, and scanners. Visit the Give Computers page on its website to see the complete list of accepted devices.
To donate, check the website to find a chapter of WCE near you. You can contact the chapter to schedule a delivery time.
If there’s no chapter in your area, you can mail your donation to the Boston chapter at:
World Computer Exchange
936 Nantasket Ave.
Hull, MA 02045
They will mail you a receipt to use for your tax deduction.
3. Computers with Causes
The nonprofit organization Computers with Causes repairs, refurbishes, or otherwise gets your donation working. It then gives your donated computer directly to a cause in need.
The causes it supports vary, but your computer could end up helping a school in need, foster home, shelter, community center, library, or U.S. veteran and their family.
In addition to desktop and laptop computers, Computers with Causes also accepts miscellaneous electronic gadgets, including tablets, printers, cameras, game consoles, servers, drones, robots, and machinery. It also takes nonworking computers.
It will either donate your nonworking device to a school lab to use for learning purposes or dispose of it through a “zero landfill” procedure, meaning they disassemble devices to the component level, such as microchips or the circuit board or even raw metal or plastic, to prepare them for recycling or reuse.
Computers with Causes accepts donations on a case-by-case basis. To donate, fill out the donation form describing your device. You then have to wait to hear if they can take it. If so, they’ll make arrangements to get it to a cause in need.
4. The National Cristina Foundation
Like Computers with Causes, the National Cristina Foundation links donated computers to various causes in need. Unlike Computers With Causes, the National Cristina Foundation doesn’t personally receive the computers. Rather, it’s a donation platform that connects donors to local charitable organizations seeking donations.
Thus, your used computer could allow an individual in need to get access to an education or job. Or it could help someone with a disability learn a new skill or an older adult connect with loved ones.
Because the National Cristina Foundation connects you with local charitable organizations, the possibilities are limitless. You simply choose the organization that resonates with you.
To donate, visit the Technology Donation Platform at the National Cristina Foundation website and enter your zip code into the locator. Then, review the list of prescreened and prequalified organizations near you seeking donations like yours.
Choose one, enter your contact information, and confirm your donation and submission method (drop-off, pickup, or shipping). A representative will reach out to complete the process.
The mission of the nonprofit organization Digitunity is to create digital equity by providing computers to device-deficient households across America.
Like the National Cristina Foundation, it is also a database connecting donors with partner charities that provide computers directly to individuals and families rather than receiving donations itself. These include schools and postsecondary institutions, state and federal governments, faith-based groups, corporations, and technology refurbishers.
According to its website, 55 million U.S. households lack access to a computer at home, and tens of millions more don’t have enough computers to share among household members. This technology deficiency results in a lack of access to education, telehealth, and employment. Thus, the organization is on a mission to provide as many computers as possible to U.S. households.
To donate, visit the Give Equipment page on the Digitunity website. After selecting individual or corporate equipment donations, enter your zip code to discover a list of prescreened and prequalified organizations in your area. Find organizations that need what you have, choose one to donate to, and then complete the online form. Your chosen charity will be in touch to make drop-off or pickup arrangements.
Human-I-T has a dual mission: to eliminate e-waste and to help Americans who lack a computer in the home gain access to much-needed technology. According to its website, 82 million Americans lack access to computers and the Internet in their home. At the same time, Americans toss 150,000 computers in the trash every day.
Human-I-T aims to redistribute most donated computers. But unlike most charities that repair and refurbish equipment for direct distribution, Human-I-T accepts almost any make or model in any condition — working or nonworking — except devices with cracked or broken CRT (cathode-ray tube) screens. It believes it can repair nearly any device for reuse. See its website for a specific list of accepted items.
Recipients of refurbished computers include low-income families, veterans in need, individuals with disabilities, seniors, schools, and nonprofit organizations. It also provides individuals and organizations with free or heavily discounted high-speed Internet access and digital training.
To donate your device, fill out the donation form on Human-I-T’s website. A representative will get in touch with you within one business day to discuss pickup or shipping options. Depending on the value or size of your donation, you may qualify for free pickup or a free prepaid shipping label.
7. Your Local School System
Donations of computers and computer equipment are always appreciated and desperately needed by schools. In the modern era, technology is used in classrooms at all grade levels — from preschool through college. So all schools can use an extra computer.
But be aware that if you’re planning to donate your used device to a school, it should be no older than three years, in good working condition, and have an operating system installed.
In other words, it must be immediately usable. Anything with obsolete technology or lacking software isn’t useful for a teacher. Send those donations elsewhere.
Classrooms are also regularly in need of computer equipment and accessories, such as keyboards, mice, power strips, USB flash drives, and security cables and locks. So if you have any lying around unused, donate them to your local school system too.
To donate your devices, contact your local school administrator.
8. Your Local Library
Like schools, local libraries also have a constant need for technology.
Patrons use computers to access library resources. Additionally, individuals who don’t have Internet access at home visit libraries to apply for jobs, send and answer emails, and browse the Web. Thus, your computer donation to a library can help benefit lower-income individuals as well as your greater community.
To donate a computer or computer equipment to your local library, contact a library administrator.
Where to Donate Used Cellphones
As with computers, before donating your cellphone, protect your personal data by backing it up and wiping your phone of all contacts, passwords, notes, and content settings.
Sign out of all accounts, such as Google and iCloud. Then do a factory reset. If you’re not sure how, follow Reader’s Digest’s instructions.
Note: If you’re donating an iPhone, you must also remove the iCloud account lock before donating. Charitable organizations can’t do it for you. Secure the Call has a guide.
9. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) provides services to survivors of domestic abuse. The charity collects donated cellphones as well as old laptops and video game consoles. Their partner, Cellular Recycler, refurbishes and sells them. A portion of the proceeds goes toward NCADV’s programs.
NCADV’s programs and projects support those who’ve survived domestic abuse as well as the advocates and allies who work on their behalf. Its mission is to change the cultural conditions that lead to domestic violence: patriarchy, privilege, racism, sexism, and classism.
To donate, package your device for shipping. Then, visit the donation page on the NCADV website. Print the special label for your package and mail it (using any shipping service) to:
3131 N. 75th St.
Boulder, CO 80301
If you’re shipping more than three devices, you qualify for free shipping and can fill out a label to have your donation shipped through FedEx.
Once received, Cellular Recycler determines the value of the donated device and will email a receipt to your provided address within six to eight weeks.
10. Secure the Call
The nonprofit organization Secure the Call reconfigures old, donated cellphones for emergency use only and gives them to organizations like domestic violence centers, senior citizen centers, and police and sheriff’s departments.
Currently, the charity is working on a COVID-19-related initiative to repurpose old phones into video call devices for patients in quarantine.
High school students in Maryland wipe the phones for class credit and set them up to call 911 only. So your old phone can literally be a lifeline to someone in distress.
To donate, visit Secure the Call’s website for instructions and to print a shipping label for mailing your phone. You can select to pay the postage to save the organization the cost or opt for a postage-paid shipping label.
From the same page, you can also print a donation form that serves as your receipt for tax-deduction purposes.
11. Cell Phones For Soldiers
If you have an old cellphone in any condition, you can donate it to Cell Phones For Soldiers, which provides free communications services to military members and veterans.
Cell Phones For Soldiers connects active-duty service members, veterans, and their families with domestic and international minutes by partnering with a federal cellular provider so troops can call home at no charge.
It does so by selling donated cellphones and other electronics, including nonworking devices, and using the proceeds to buy soldiers prepaid calling cards.
The organization prefers gently used electronics, as they command a higher selling price. But Cell Phones For Soldiers takes electronics in any condition. Whatever it can’t refurbish and resell, it sells to recyclers, so even recycling has some monetary benefit.
You can opt to ship electronics directly to Cell Phones For Soldiers or drop them off at a partner location. Visit the donation page to print a shipping label or discover a partner location near you.
Where to Donate Used Televisions, Game Systems, and Other Electronics
While donations of computers and cellphones are in higher demand than other electronics, there are still many places to donate your other used devices.
Charities that accept donations of general household goods, like Goodwill, can take your old TV or video game console. You can also try local charities like recreation centers, senior centers, and shelters.
12. eBay for Charity
If you have newer electronic devices, eBay for Charity allows you to sell them on the site and donate anywhere from 10% to 100% of the profit to your favorite charity. You can create a listing for just about anything on eBay, including any type of electronic equipment.
You can choose from thousands of charities, including the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the American Cancer Society. To collect the donation, eBay partners with PayPal Giving Fund, a registered nonprofit that connects donors, businesses, and charities to raise funds.
You choose the charity and donation percentage when listing your device. After you complete the transaction, PayPal Giving Fund collects the donation amount from your PayPal account.
As a benefit for donating all or a portion of your proceeds to charity, eBay discounts your selling fees. Plus, it features your listing with a unique charity ribbon icon to make it stand out.
So if you have a gadget worth selling, you could earn a double financial benefit — a tax-deductible donation plus a higher selling percentage if you reserve some of the proceeds for yourself.
See our article on how to sell on eBay for tips on listing your electronics for sale.
13. Donation Town
Donation Town isn’t a charity. It’s a database service that connects you with local charities and local chapters of national charities like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity.
Its partner charities accept a wide variety of items, including electronics as well as household goods and furniture donations. That makes it a convenient option if you have a bulk donation after decluttering or downsizing or simply lack transportation or time.
The site lists a few hundred charities and provides you with information about the local nonprofit organizations. As a bonus, all the charities pick up your donations for free.
Visit Donation Town’s website and enter your zip code to get matched with a list of local charities. Choose your charity from the list and contact them to schedule a free donation pickup at a time convenient for you.
14. Local Recreation Centers
Plenty of local nonprofit organizations are need donations. These include local recreation centers, like those for after-school care, senior day cares and living facilities, and adult day cares for individuals with disabilities.
While these are all national charities, many aren’t set up to take your donations at the national level. But local chapters welcome contributions of usable material goods. Search the locator pages of the national charity websites to find local chapters that can accept your electronic equipment.
Alternatively, search online for local recreation centers near you and check their websites to see if they accept donations. Because many of these facilities run on fumes, they’re happy to take donated equipment as long as it’s in working condition.
Even if your used electronics aren’t in good enough shape for charities to refurbish and reuse, avoid throwing them in the trash.
According to Consumer Reports, toxic substances like lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries, mercury, lead, and cadmium fill our old computers, cellphones, and TVs. So throwing them in the garbage is dangerous. Plus, thus far, 25 states have passed laws requiring people to recycle old electronics.
And if you ship or mail li-ion-containing devices, such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets, for donation or recycling, always package them with a special label (many charities allow you to print the special label from their websites). The shipment of li-ion batteries is regulated by U.S. law.
See UPS’s guide for specific instructions on how to safely ship devices with li-ion batteries. That includes nonworking devices, which many charities accept to recycle the parts for cash.
In fact, you can recycle your old laptops, tablets, cellphones, and computers yourself for discounts and rewards at numerous retailers, including Best Buy and Microsoft. So you shouldn’t have to work too hard to find a place to recycle your used electronics, even if you can’t find a local charity to donate them to.
But if you’re stuck for options, look for a certified e-waste recycling program where you can drop off your nonworking and broken devices by searching websites like Earth911, the National Center for Electronics Recycling, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.