Closing The Loop In Charitable Giving – How To Make Your Donations Go Further!

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Close the loop! Buying from thrift stores is good for the environment. You support a good cause & often get higher quality at a lower cost too! 

But there’s often a stigma about thrift stores that’s misunderstood. 

Your donated goods to 'charity' don't help their cause. It's the SALE of those goods (and money received) they need. Buying Used From Thrift Stores Is Good For The Environment. You help a good cause & you often get higher quality at a lower cost too! #TexasHomesteader

Easy Ways I Lowered My Eco Footprint

Several years ago we began to be aware of our environmental footprint and took several steps to reduce that footprint.  (HA! I said STEPS & footprint – see what I did there?)

Back in my early eco-warrior days I first took a look at the food items we typically purchased in the store.

I learned how to make for myself some of those items I used to buy:

Homemade Seasoning Mixes  such as Taco Mix, BBQ Dry Rub, Flavorful Pinto Bean Seasoning, etc.

Amazing easy Desserts – homemade Brownies,- simple Chocolate Cake,  3-ingredient gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies, etc.

Low-Fat Yogurt – both made on stovetop and Instant Pot Yogurt

Homemade Pasta. and Pasta Sauce.

Our own Cold-process soap bars.

Homemade Lavender Rosemary soap a self sufficiency step. #TexasHomesteader

Learning those things has been a fun hobby for me and certainly left me feeling pretty empowered.

Then we took a good hard look at the overabundance we already had and stopped ‘boredom shopping’ for yet more stuff to overfill our home. That was a pretty big step too. 

How Buying Used Items Has Multiple Benefits

But today I want to talk about something that can make a large impact:  Buying used instead of new.

It’s an even bigger way to flex our eco-friendly muscle. Buying items from thrift stores instead of buying new is one of the largest eco-friendly steps we’ve made. Plus it has several other advantages too.

No New Item Manufactured For My Purchase – buying used items means a new whatsit doesn’t have to be manufactured, packaged and shipped for my purchase.

Money Savings – the cost is usually much less for used items purchased at a thrift store.

Your donated goods to 'charity' don't help their cause. It's the SALE of those goods (and money received) they need. Buying Used From Thrift Stores Is Good For The Environment. You help a good cause & you often get higher quality at a lower cost too! #TexasHomesteader

Better Quality – oftentimes you can buy higher quality for the same or less money than the new & oftentimes flimsier versions.

Charitable Giving –  supporting a good cause funded by the thrift store!

Did ya ever think about closing the loop in charitable giving? It’s good for your finances and good for the environment. Yet shopping at a thrift store is oftentimes very misunderstood.

Decluttering & Donating Household Items To Thrift Stores

Let’s say you’ve made a nice donation of household goods to a charitable organization’s thrift store. That’s awesome! It removes extra “Stuff” from our homes and allows someone else to enjoy those things that we no longer use.

The best part of this of course is that the money made from the thrift shop’s sale of our goods furthers a good cause we believe in.

But there’s a stigma with shopping in thrift stores that I feel I must address.

Thrift Store Shopping Not Only For The Needy

Many well-meaning people think that since thrift store goods are “donated to charity” that those goods are earmarked to go only to the underprivileged.

And I think in some cases that may be true. But think about how a thrift store operates for a moment. How do you close the loop?

How Charities Are Funded Through Thrift Stores

For most charities that run a thrift store, your actual household item donations don’t do the organization you’re trying to support any good. 

It’s the SALE of those items and the money made from your donated goods that funds the organization.

Closing the loop in charitable donations - it's the money made from the sale of your donated item that benefits a charity. #TexasHomesteader

Shopping at those very same thrift stores that you want to support is what actually benefits them. It closes the loop of your charitable-giving.

I feel good about buying clothes and household goods at charitable thrift stores. So I close the loop by buying there whenever possible.

Some people feel if they shop at a thrift store, they're taking resources from underprivileged people. But I know my shopping at thrift stores actually serves those in need (as well as being a frugal and environmental win). Come see why. #TexasHomesteader

Of course there are certain things that for me are only purchased new but that list is actually pretty small.

From thrift store I’ve purchased




Garden supplies

… and more!

Think Thrift Store Purchases First

I asked RancherMan to build me a large mirror framed with rustic wood from our 1880’s barn. But I already knew I would not be purchasing the actual large mirror part new.

We bought an old beat-up dresser mirror from a charitable thrift store at a very reasonable price. It didn’t matter that the wood frame was beat up – we’d be covering that anyway. We simply needed a large mirror with a flat wood frame.

RancherMan then covered the frame with some of my 1880’s barn wood, a few of the old square nails from the barn and even embellished it with some of our 1882 Elwood barbed wire found on our property.

So the cost we paid for this mirror was tiny – especially compared to buying that large mirror new.

But by shopping at a thrift store the purchase of that old beat-up mirror means our money went to help an organization that I want to support.

And my rustic barn wood mirror turned out to be a beautiful and meaningful addition to our home.

Buying Used From Thrift Stores Is Good For The Environment. You help a good cause & you often get higher quality at a lower cost too! #TexasHomesteader

What about you? Have you noticed a lack of understanding from friends and family about shopping at thrift stores?

Let’s get the word out and help fund some great causes!


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42 thoughts on “Closing The Loop In Charitable Giving – How To Make Your Donations Go Further!

  1. Greg Hill

    Good article ~TxH~,

    Being in the building industry now for over 35 year and still doing it. My wife has saved us Thousands of dollars, just on my clothes alone. I literally destroy clothes especially when it comes to painting. Every Friday including today we will hit the second hand shops. There are only 3 of them in town .Summer being here finally we will do the garage sale too if we are looking for something specific. Need to be careful about buying things you like but really don’t need in our case.
    We support and donate to the Kiwanis second hand, the church mouse house second hand and one other I can’t spell but know they support women who are in need and scholarships for girls who want to go to collage. Second hand is smart hand….

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Love it, Greg. Sounds like you’re supporting some great causes with your thrift store purchases. And you’re right, you save money for sure. But more importantly (for me at least) is the support you’re offering to good causes plus the environmental impact too! But like y’all, we have to be mindful that we’re not buying something we like but don’t necessarily need. I’ve picked up, carried around the store and then replaced on the shelf many things that would have really only resulted in future clutter. ~TxH~

  2. Simple Nature Decor

    I have found many of my decor pieces at the thrift store, in one of my recent posts, I mention I found a huge Russian Icon Oil Painting for $300, its suppose to be worth alot but i never bothered to get appraised. I just love the thing! Hope to see you at Fabulous Friday Party

  3. Christine | Where The Smiles Have Been

    I am a HUGE thrift store fan! It’s so fun to check them out and see what you can find….every trip is like Christmas because you never know what you’ll come across. We’re also big proponents of donating anything we can instead of throwing it away. One man’s treasure and all that….. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this with us at Merry Monday! We hope you’ll join us again this week!

  4. Terri Presser

    I like purchasing from thrift stores or as well call them opportunity shops. It is good to get bargains and help a charity at the same time. I just (this morning) got my husband two pairs of pants and our youngest daughter a ski suit (for when she goes skiing) for under $10.00. This helps us as well as the charity and they can help others with their sales. I find that some people don’t like wearing second hand clothes but this has never been an issue with us. Thanks for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  5. Danielle

    Thrift stores and resale/ consignment stores are a great places to shop! Too often emphasis is placed on getting the newest and best of something. And while, I do enjoy shopping and getting new items, at the end of the day, jeans are jeans. 😉 Thanks for sharing at Idea Box.

  6. Kristine Hart

    Love, love, love your article. Spot on- many people don’t get it. I worked at a residential housing for woman and we would get donations of used make-up (GROSS), shampoo and conditioner bottles not full. As staff, we were like “Really? These woman don’t have much right now and they are trying to better themselves. Giving used make-up to someone in need? To me that’s degrating. Like you said, trash is trash. Thank you so much for sharing this info. 🙂

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I think the donor’s hearts were in the right place Kristine, just don’t think they thought it through. But yeah, trash is trash. ~TxH~

  7. Lorey

    Great post! I am an avid Thrift Store shopper! And I know many of my well-to-do family members look down on it, even though they regularly donate themselves! I may just have to share this with them!

    Found you at A Little R & R Link Up!

  8. Gwen

    We buy almost everything used, (except food!), be it from charity shops, ebay or other secondhand sources. I think there definitely is a stigma about it for some people, but now that we are used to it, it seems a huge extravagance to buy most things brand new!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Us too Gwen. I hate that there’s a stigma and I think it’s a misunderstood one. People falsely believe they’re “donating” to a charity so poor people can afford household goods. Although that’s certainly a benefit of thrift shopping, that charity needs your DOLLARS, which they can only obtain once that item is actually paid for. So we always try to shop at thrift stores first. ~TxH~

  9. Gentle Joy

    There is much less stigma to such shopping than there used to be… the “in” thing at the moment is “re-purposing”, so that means using old or used stuff, so that has helped. 🙂 Still, I know people who NEED to save money, but refuse to shop used… and look down at such items. What a shame… I sure appreciate the blessings God provides and so much of them are in used items. 🙂

  10. Judi Bigham

    The thing I find amazing, is that most of the people who wouldn’t shop at thrift stores, don’t think twice about shopping at antique stores. To me, that’s just high priced second hands stuff. I prefer finding a thrift store or the old junk store. I’ve found some really neat stuff at “junk stores”.

  11. Nichole @ Budget Loving Military Wife

    We moved to England 5 months ago from Washington state. They call them “Charity Shops” here in the U.K. and the stigma is very different. People view shopping at charity shops a very good thing because you are supporting a cause. Many of the shops are named for the cause they support “cancer research association” “Heart Association” “Hospice care”, etc.

  12. Stef

    Great article. My husband and I have a favorite, church-run thrift shop where can pass on things that are still in excellent shape but are looking for something different . We’ve found some great things there and are always happy to trade them our money before paying a chain store for something less interesting and more expensive. I’ve never thought of it as closing the loop, but that’s exactly how to describe it. And that makes me even happier!

  13. Beth

    I wish we had true thrift stores near us here. Mostly they are the “chain” (GW, SA) stores where the prices of used clothing matches what i can buy for new at Wal-Mart or on sale at Target. I never feel like I am getting a good deal or really helping anyone out when I shop there. I miss the shops run by the churches where we lived in OK City that really gave back to the community, used mostly volunteers to run them for lower overhead, and had buck-a-bag day sales.

  14. Sara

    I love thrift stores! I don’t like to pay retail for anything! I have found some really nice things at thrift stores, including clothes with tags still on them!!

  15. Linda @ A La Carte

    I think the shopping at Thrift Stores is becoming more acceptable for sure. I’ve done it for years and will buy most anything there (except underclothes LOL). I have gifted friends with items they LOVE and let them know it came from a thrift store and they got a gift they love, I got a great gift at a price I could afford and the money went to help others (I’m picky about my thrift stores also). Great post!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Good point Linda. Slowly the stigma of thrift store shopping is being removed as knowledge of the purpose of thrift stores are made more widely known – thrift stores are raising money for those causes and using our donated goods to do so. By shopping at those stores we are closing the loop – the money is raised with our purchase! The donations themselves are not of any lesser quality than could be purchased at consignment stores or second-hand retail shops and money made from thrift store shopping goes to those in need. Goods donated from people just like you & me help those thrift stores raise money for those good causes we donated to in the first place! ~TxH~

    2. Patty

      I love shopping at thrift stores – this is one of my favorite subjects! My husband was skeptical of clothes shopping at thrift stores until he was visiting me in Texas (he lives/works in Arizona while my job is in Texas) and my mother passed away. He hadn’t brought anything remotely appropriate to wear to a funeral. I took him to a couple of my favorite shops and he was amazed at the prices and quality. He ended up buying a suitcase full to take back with him. He travels a lot for work, and has started checking out thrift stores wherever he’s staying. We like to vacation in Hawaii every few years, and there is a nice SA a block from the water in Hilo (on the Big Island). We check it out for souvenirs, and we found several very nice Hawaiian shirts at a fraction of the cost of new. I’m glad my family is on board also – the gifts we exchange are often from various thrift or second-hand shops, and we kind of brag to each other about how cheap that perfect gift was 🙂

  16. Anna@stuffedveggies

    I LOVE the thrift stores, too! To keep my frugality in perspective, I try to look at my purchases there as “rentals” to be returned when I’m done with them – if they’re still good enough to re-sell. This way, I can think “I’m using this slow cooker I bought for $2.99 – it costs me $1 a year to use!” Then, if I don’t need something anymore, I can just take it right back to the “rental” place – no clutter needed (not that I DON’T clutter – I just don’t feel I HAVE to keep things because they’re “still good.”)

    Yesterday, I got a really nice, new looking sewing machine for $14.99 : )

  17. Lisa Lynn

    When I need ‘new’ clothes, that’s where I head…Usually the Salvation Army. I like supporting them and saving money at the same time!

    Thanks for sharing on The Creative HomeAcre Hop!


    Great reminders. We almost all of our shopping in thrift stores. I like that I’m helping to keep things out of the landfill but also that my purchase doesn’t trigger a need for companies to produce more. I

  19. Jenny

    Thrifting is a skill I’m wanting to learn. We don’t have many in our area, but there are a few stores in the large city where I shop. I’d like to learn which ones have the best selection and when. I do though love to shop consignment stores, and we have a great used book store where I could spend hours. I agree it is better to find things used and spend less.

  20. Hannah

    So glad you posted this! The SALE is what completes the giving! Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Hannah – some people really don’t think about closing the loop in their charitable giving, so hopefully this post will remind them they can go a step further effortlessly in supporting causes they care about. ~TxH~

  21. Regula Bartholdi

    I love going to the thrift store and seldom buy new things. Why should I? After a while all new things are used anyway. When things break in the school kitchen I buy them in the thrift store too. Why buy them new if they break again, sometimes in no time? Most of my clothes are from the thrift store. I don’t tell people. 😉

  22. Cheryl L. Stansberry

    We pretty much do all our clothes shopping at thrift stores. The only things I absolutely refuse to by used are socks and underwear! (especially underwear) My kids love going (of course they run straight to the toy section) and get excited when I pick out new (used) clothes for them. I think it helps also that we homeschool and I know it will be less of a temptation to get caught up in the need to look and dress like everyone else. My mom and sisters love thrift store shopping and it seems everyone I know loves going too.

  23. Linda @ A La Carte

    I seldom buy ‘new’ anymore. I buy most of my clothes and household items from thrift stores and yard sales. Gifts also! Most of my friends and family know that I do that and support it since I find awesome things that I couldn’t afford new. I donate also and complete the circle! Thanks for joining TTG!


    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Us too Linda – we seldom buy new. I also often by parts of gifts at thrift stores, such as dishes, baskets or containers for the gift, etc. It’s all about closing the loop, it matters to me! Thanks for your comment. ~TxH~

  24. Janis@TheMagicThatIsThrift

    As a result of my passion for buying from thrift stores, I have “converted” non-believer friends into thrift store shoppers. Sometimes people can’t get past the “vintage” associated with thrift stores and they miss out on great, “modern” items that would easily fit their current lifestyle. All we can do is keep spreading the word about The Magic That Is Thrift. Great post!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’ve made some converts from non-believer friends as well Janis, although I’ve run more into the erroneous mindset that items in a thrift store were earmarked to go only to underprivileged people. Once they realize that their goods weren’t helping the organizations, that it was the CASH that helped, they had their “DUH” moment and never looked back. ~TxH~

  25. christine

    I don’t do a ton of shopping at thrift stores, mostly because I don’t do much shopping, period. I have shopped there, and I donate there at least once a month. I had no idea people thought the stores were for needy folks to shop. Just about everyone I know has shopped in thrift stores, and none of them are needy.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yep Christine, like you we don’t do lots of shopping either but when we do it’s usually a thrift store that gets our first consideration. For me it’s primarily an environmental choice, then a charitable cause choice. The financial aspect of it is one of the last reasons for my consideration but it’s a nice side effect. I was pretty surprised when I heard this person was under the impression these goods were meant for the underprivileged as like you I know many people who shop in thrift stores and none of them were needy. I figured it might be a good idea to raise awareness of the funding mechanism for charities if there’s that kind of misunderstanding out there. ~TxH~

  26. Amber

    I’m an avid thrifter, but this article makes an excellent point! Thank you for sharing

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Thanks Amber, hopefully we can get the word out there and help lots of great organizations with their funding. ~TxH~

  27. Joan @ The Chicken Mama

    I love both donating to AND shopping at all eight of our local thrift stores. I love it so much I started volunteering in the book section at one. Thanks for sharing the joys of thrift store shopping!

    I ‘d like to add one suggestion. When you gather your own items to donate, if you can’t close your eyes and imagine it for sale in the store, then perhaps the item has lived a full life and should be discarded. As a volunteer I’m amazed at the amount of trash, really trash, that gets dropped off for donation. A chipped drinking glass should be thrown away. A shirt with a huge stain should be thrown away. A twenty year old college textbook should be thrown away. Or if you have a facility capable of recycling these in your community, take those items there.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Joan, that’s a very good reminder. I think sometimes when wondering what to donate the thought process is “well, maybe SOMEONE could use it”. While this may be true in some circumstances if the item is in usable shape and sell-able, broken items can’t be used by anyone and certainly aren’t worthy of being sold in a store, thrift or otherwise. Thanks for pointing that out! ~TxH~

  28. Heather

    I absolutely love thrift stores! I tend to check there first for most things, especially clothes for the kids. I think there has been a stigma associated with shopping places like Goodwill for a while, but it seems like we might be turning the corner. Realizing that a lot of people get rid of perfectly good “stuff” that we may need. My problem is keeping a list of what I need, so I don’t go in and buy a bunch of stuff I don’t just because it is cheap 🙂

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Heather, I’ve had someone question whether I should shopping be at thrift stores because doesn’t that mean I’m taking things meant to go to the needy. I think there’s just a huge misunderstanding about the whole process, how thrift stores work and how some of those wonderful organizations are actually funded. I’m hoping today’s post explains it more clearly. 🙂 ~TxH~

  29. Robin

    I love going to the thrift stores! It has become a Saturday routine for my husband & I. In the summer we search for yard sales, then hit the thrift stores and in the winter we just go to the thrift stores. I have found numerous items that I would not have purchased new. I also donate items to them.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Me too Robin! We love to garage sale as well, but thrift stores are not so seasonal. Glad you enjoy them too! ~TxH~


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