In the era of Amazon, businesses get a whole lot of boxes. Maybe you order a lot of supplies. After all, your entire stock is probably shipped to you in cardboard boxes. Perhaps your company just moved and you have a lot of cardboard boxes waiting to be taken to the recycling center. Before you throw out your cardboard boxes, consider donating them instead.
Why Donate Boxes?
It may seem easier to just take your old boxes to a recycling center or leave them out back next to the company dumpster, but donating boxes is actually beneficial to more than just your business. Sure, you can get a tax write off, but you can actually help charities that don't have enough storage.
In order for your business to write off box donations, you’ll need to have pristine records. Take a look at the Salvation Army or Goodwill’s online valuation guidelines to know how much you can deduct. Create your own receipt to prove the tax-deductible donation and have it signed by someone at the organization.
Donate Boxes to Charities
There are a number of national organizations like Goodwill, the Salvation Army and the Kidney Foundation that accept gently used goods. These organizations often take things right from your curb. All you have to do is call your local chapter and schedule a pickup.
Not all charities need box donations, but organizations like domestic violence shelters and soup kitchens typically do. Remember: Soup kitchens pack up their supplies in cardboard boxes, so having some extra ones is always a help. Make sure your boxes are in pristine condition and follow all donation guidelines. These are often written on a charity's website.
Ask Other Businesses
You have boxes because at one point your business needed boxes. It’s safe to assume that someone else’s business might need boxes too. Ask around at local businesses, particularly ones that are advertising a move or a going-out-of-business sale. They’re likely going to need to pack up a few things, and it never hurts to ask.
List Your Boxes Online
One of the easiest ways to donate boxes is to have the person or organization that needs boxes come to you. Try listing a lot of boxes on an online service like Craigslist or Nextdoor. Have the person contact you to come pick them up.
Ask Neighbors and Friends
Rather than searching for a charitable organization that needs boxes, it might be easiest to ask neighbors, friends and colleagues. Are any of your employees considering a move? Is anyone selling a house?
You can even ask a neighbor with a for-sale sign if they need boxes. Unfortunately, this won’t get you a tax deduction, but the tax deduction for box donations isn’t exactly huge.
Donate Boxes to a Church
Churches often need boxes for traveling and storage. They use boxes to collect items for the homeless and families in their parish who need help. They even use boxes to serve meals to senior citizens. It doesn’t hurt to ask a local church if you’re not so keen on searching for a charity.
Try U-Haul’s Box Exchange
You’re probably not dealing with U-Haul too often as a small business, but they do actually have a “take a box, leave a box” program at their stores. Of course, if you have too many boxes from your business, you might want to look elsewhere. The U-Haul store is only so big.
If you have a large volume of boxes, you can check out U-Haul’s box exchange forum. Search for people who need a large volume of boxes or create a post offering up your extra stock.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.