Every day, many families struggle to find funding assistance to get the things they need to improve a loved one’s quality of life. It’s one of the reasons donating or selling your used or outgrown equipment is such a great idea. Not only are you ensuring that those items continue helping others long after you no longer need them, but it provides a more accessible and affordable avenue for families in need to acquire them.

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If you’re thinking about donating or selling the used medical equipment in your home, here are some tips on how to do so in a way that benefits both you and the equipment’s next owner.

Do Your Research

It’s important to take the time to research any charitable organizations you’re thinking about donating to before doing so. This is especially true when what you’re giving is medical equipment. Here are some things to take into consideration before making your donation:

  • The Federal Trade Commission has a great website detailing some of the steps you should take before donating to any charity. While it’s mostly geared toward monetary donations, there are many other helpful tips, like confirming the tax-deductibility of your donation or the reputation of small local charities.
  • Make sure the organization you’re donating to will accept the equipment you have. Big organizations like the Salvation Army or Goodwill either won’t take durable medical equipment (DME) or have a special branch that handles those types of items. Be sure to be upfront about the condition the equipment is in, too. Some charities will still accept broken items and use their parts to repair other similar pieces of equipment.
  • If you’re having trouble locating an organization in your area, call a local hospital or advocacy office. They should be able to point you in the right direction.
  • If the equipment you’re donating was used for a specific diagnosis, try checking with groups who help children or adults with similar issues. They’ll be able to best match your equipment with others who need it.
  • Some charities work locally rather than globally. If where your equipment goes is important to you, whether it’s a family in your city or one across the globe, make sure you check with the organization before donating.

Make It Shine

Now that you know where it’s going, slap a little elbow grease on that old equipment and clean it up! Bath, shower and commode chairs should be especially clean before turning them in, but it’s just common courtesy to make sure any equipment look nice before you bring it to the facility. The cleaner it is and the better the shape it’s in allows your equipment to enter the donation system more quickly, and that could mean a family in need will receive it much faster.

The Rewards of Kindness

The feeling that you’ve done something good for another family in need is a great reward, of course. A nice tax deduction, however, is also pretty nice. If the organization you’re working with accepts tax-deductible donations, don’t forget to get the receipt and put it with the rest of your tax documents so you’ll have it ready when April comes around.

Also, if you have a particularly good experience with the charity you donate to, don’t forget tell others about them. Many smaller organizations run on extremely thin budgets and can’t afford much in the way of marketing. The more people who know about these charities, the faster they’ll grow.

Selling to Resale Shops

Of course, you don’t have to donate your outgrown or unneeded equipment. Many retail shops which specialize in medical equipment offer cash or store credit for your used items. These shops also have the ability to refurbish the broken or heavily-used equipment some charities won’t accept. Another benefit of these shops is that they work with people and families with special needs every day, so they’ll be able to match your wheelchair, stroller or other piece of adaptive equipment with the right customer.

Like charities, the things that a resale shop will accept varies from place to place, so check with them before hauling your equipment down to their store. The last thing you want to do is have to take it all the way back home when the shop says they don’t want it.

The Online Marketplace

Selling them privately through online marketplaces like eBay and Craig’s List is also an option. Keep in mind, though, that while you may get a few extra dollars going this route, it may not always be best for the person buying you’re equipment.

Things like canes, walkers and beds are easy to sell and are often adjustable to fit the needs of their new user. Items such as wheelchairs, commode chairs and other adaptive seating, however, are usually chosen for a specific type of user based on a number of factors, including diagnosis, support needs and measurements. The buyer might be getting a great deal on your equipment, but the intended user may not. It might be too big, too small, unsupportive or otherwise able to comfortably fit their needs.

If you choose to sell your equipment online, be as upfront as possible about its previous use. List as many of its specifications and features, such as height, seat width and adjustability, as you can, as well. This way, any potential buyer has what they need to make a better, more informed decision about how your equipment might benefit its intended user before they purchase.

Paying It Forward

There are lots of options available to you when it comes to donating or selling your used wheelchair or unneeded medical equipment. Whatever you choose to do, try to keep the next user in mind. After all, what you’re giving away probably once made a big difference in either your life or the life of a loved one. Hopefully, it’ll do the same for someone else in the near future.

Photo Credit: “Wheelchair” by Joshua Zader, used under CC BY / Cropped from original