In the past month I have seen three different aid agencies request donated goods to send overseas. This is always an appealing idea because it makes you feel like you’re really helping while at the same time recycling things that are no longer of any use to you. Unfortunately, it often costs more to ship goods than to buy them locally, and inappropriate donations can do more harm than good. The following are five questions you should always ask before donating.

  1. Is the donation appropriate for the local climate, culture, and religion?
  2. Do they actually need the donation?
  3. Are the goods available locally?
  4. Will the people receiving the goods be able to afford to fix or replace the donated item?
  5. Will donating this item do more harm than good?