The Changing Face of Donation

The way charities operate and the way we donate have changed a great deal in the last 10 years. The local Vinnies or Salvos used to be a one-stop shop for donating anything and everything that you no longer wanted. However, thanks to fast-fashion and cheap on-trend home goods, there is now a huge turnover of unwanted items. As a result, the sheer volume of what we go through has forced change in the way we dispose of it when we are finished with it.

It is no secret that our level of consumption has been increasing for decades. In recent years there has been a greater sense of responsibility for our impact on the planet. Thus, with an increase in consumption but a willingness to avoid landfill, charities have become overfilled with people’s old things.

Stores like Vinnies and the Salvos have now changed their op-shop business model. It used to be a social enterprise aimed at providing cheap goods for people in need. Now it is a retail outlet focused on raising revenue to fund their other charitable works. This business model works because fashion is cyclical and the “hipster” trend is still going strong so youths are willing to spend a lot of money on vintage goods (they’re that crazy for it that the millennials even wrote a song called “Thrift Shop”!)

With op-shops now being consolidated as a cool part of youth culture, and the shops becoming overfilled thanks to society’s constant turnover of goods, the stores have become more picky with what they will accept. You have likely even heard a friend complain about trying to drop off a piece of beloved furniture only to have it knocked back. These stores now have that option. They won’t just take anything!

So, what do you do with all your stuff? Well, it is important to note that op-shops are not the only option. While it may not be possible to find a one-stop shop for all your goods, there are more specific places to take certain things. And these charities will likely take anything (as long as it is within their strict scope). Below is a list of alternative donation options, what goods they will accept and what goods they won’t.

WERN (Western Emergency Relief Network)
Run by Rotary in West Footscray, WERN provide furniture, whitegoods, kitchenware, electronics, and bedding to those in need via social work agencies. They will even take mattresses in good condition (however, not foam mattresses). They even offer a limited pick-up service to surrounding areas, although they are often booked out a month or so in advance. You can drop-off to their warehouse Tuesday to Thursday 10am to 4pm by arrangement.
3 Cross Street, Footscray

EERN (Eastern Emergency Relief Network)
The sister to WERN, EERN tend to be much more restrictive in what they will accept however they are still a good alternative to the Salvos and Vinnies. They operate Monday to Friday 9am to 12pm.
1/10, 12 Thornton Crescent, Mitcham

St Kilda Mums
St Kilda Mums are the go-to for all things baby related. They are very particular about items like cots and prams as their requirements are very stringent. Generally, the item needs to be less than two years old, conform to the current ISO standards, and have full physical manuals.
2 – 4 Vale Street, St Kilda 
Phone: 1300 789 509

Donations in Kind
Another rotary-run organisation, Donations in Kind will accept medical equipment and furniture. They also offer a pick-up service.
400 Somerville Road, West Footscray
Phone: 0428 550 574

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
The ASRC is best known for their refugee advocacy but they also act as a distribution centre for physical resources. As space is limited it is best to call ahead to find out what items they are currently in need of, however, kitchenware and bedding is often welcome.
214 – 218 Nicholson Street, Footscray – Phone: 03 8537 9500
179 Londsdale Street, Dandenong – Phone: 03 8772 1380

The Lost Dog’s Home
Bedding and pet food is always in high demand at the Lost Dog’s Home. While they cannot accept doonas, quilts, pillows, or cushions; they will always accept old blankets, towels, cat or dog toys, cat litter, dog leads, and good quality canned dog or cat food.
2 Gracie Street, North Melbourne
Phone: 03 9329 2755

You can donate unopened perishable food to FoodBank, but they also take items such as soap, shampoo, sanitary items, toilet paper, toothbrushes, and household cleaners. If you find you have an influx of these goods, consider donating to FoodBank. You can deliver to their warehouse Monday to Friday between 7:30am and 3:30pm.
4/2 Somerville Road, Yarraville
Phone: 03 9362 8300

These are just some of the less well-known avenues for donation. If you have any others you would like to add, please feel free to do so in the comment section below.