How To Donate Your Cell Phone to Charity

Your old cell phone does not belong in landfill. Unfortunately, a lot of people still either throw away their old phones or drop them in a recycling box without knowing where they’re going. Additionally, a lot of electronics recycling takes place overseas with workers who are often exposed to toxic chemicals and the like, rather than being done properly and locally. This article will help explain how to donate your cell phone to charity. 

Donating your phone is a great way to keep it out of landfill and do something good for charity. However, you still should be careful.

First of all, unfortunately, there are some scams out there. In 2006, a couple in Oklahoma scammed people out of $1 million in donated cell phones by inventing a charity and then pocketing the money. Make sure the charity you choose has a good reputation. Small charities are often better, as are local ones you can actually visit or talk to.

If you do decide to donate your phone, there are two approaches. The first is to find a charity that takes used cell phones, refurbishes them, and then provides them to seniors, domestic violence shelters, and similar.

The second is to choose a phone recycling company, such as SecondWave, that donates the money made from recycling the phones to charity. The advantage of this approach is that the phone can be in poor condition, whilst the first charities will only take working phones. Generally, recycling companies will test the phones and sell or donate the ones which work while recycling the broken ones.

Make sure the recycling company you choose does secure removal of the data from your phone, or do it yourself before donating the phone. If the company will do it this is obviously the cheapest and easiest option. You want to make sure your personal information does not fall into the hands of a third party, especially financial information and people’s unlisted phone numbers. For example, SecondWave puts all phones through “phone triage” to determine which ones can be sold and performs a secure data wipe on all phones. We also have instructions on our site on how to erase your phone yourself, for some phones, with more to come.

In most cases, you will be mailing the phone to the charity and you may have to pay shipping (SecondWave does offer free shipping, but only if you are sending at least three phones). The shipping costs should be fairly low. Put the phone in a padded envelope, small box, or bubble mailer so that it is not damaged and make sure to pad the box and seal it properly. A working phone is worth more to the charity than one which no longer functions. Include the phone’s charger, but not any other materials such as headphones or user manuals. Electronics stores will generally recycle broken headphones and headsets for you.

In some cases you may be able to write the phone off as a charitable deduction. Talk to your tax advisor about whether this is an option for you, and whether the value of the phone is worth any extra paperwork that may be needed.

Recycling your old cell phone through SecondWave is a great way to make sure that it does not end up in landfill or is shipped to China to be recycled. If the phone still works, it may even make a great cheap cell phone for a desperate senior who needs one. If you want to know more about SecondWave or our featured causes, contact us today. We can help you donate your old phones and make sure they are properly recycled or find their way to a great home.