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Looking to back an organization that knows how to make the most of your donation? These 10 Connecticut-based nonprofits have each earned four stars from charity-assessment monitor Charity Navigator  (For more ways to give, you can also check into charities at BBB Wise Giving Alliance and CharityWatch.)

Save the Children, Fairfield: dedicated to the health, education and safety of the world’s 2.3 billion children.

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, Norwalk: on a mission to cure multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that affects plasma cells.

Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, New London: serves as the hub for meaningful philanthropy for 42 communities in the eastern third of the state.

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Danbury: championing the fight against rare diseases through education, advocacy, research, and service programs.

Hartford Stage, Hartford: award-winning regional theater renowned for producing innovative revivals of classics, as well as provocative new plays and musicals.

Connecticut Food Bank, Wallingford: distributes nutritious food to people in need through a network of community-based food-assistance programs in Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham counties.

The Connecticut Audubon Society, Fairfield: conserves Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and habitats; manages 20 wildlife sanctuaries in Connecticut.

Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury: collects and exhibits American art and cultural history with a focus on the history of the Naugatuck Valley and the artists of Connecticut.

Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hartford: makes professionally supported matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6-18, in 132 cities and towns across the state.

Our Companions Animal Rescue & Sanctuary, Manchester: provides innovative programs that help animals in need, while working to prevent pet homelessness; operates a 47-acre sanctuary in Ashford for dogs and cats with medical and behavioral challenges.


What about those cluttered closets? Or a bulging basement? Chances are there’s someone out there who’d be more than happy to take all that “extra” you have hanging around and put it to good use. Better yet, here in Connecticut we have some stellar organizations that will make sure your donated goods end up in the right hands — instead of the landfill. We call that a win-win.

Children’s books: Read to Grow, committed to making books a part of every child’s life from birth, accepts donations of new and gently used children’s books (from newborn to young adult) by appointment in its Branford office.

Furniture: For Goodness Sake, a furniture bank that provides donated furniture and household goods to families in Central Connecticut moving out of homelessness, accepts donations by appointment at its Plainville warehouse.

Professional attire: Bethel-based Save a Suit provides military veterans with professional attire, accepts new and gently used suits, dress shirts and pants, shoes and other business attire for men and women at more than a dozen Connecticut drop-off locations. It also welcomes business professionals to donate their time to help with workshop programs for veterans like networking techniques, interview skills and financial fitness.

Winter coats: New Britain-based Button Up Connecticut collects new and gently used winter coats to distribute to Connecticut residents in need; visit for drop-off locations.

Musical instruments: Based in Hamden, Horns for Kids accepts donations by appointment of new and gently used instruments, whether brass, woodwind, string or percussion, which it refurbishes and distributes to Connecticut schools. Local pickup is offered for larger items. 

Medical equipment: Charlie’s Closet, a medical-equipment clearinghouse run by Guilford Interfaith Volunteers, accepts donations by appointment of gently used medical equipment, whether walker or wheelchair, commode or hospital bed.

Bicycles: Bikes for Kids, which has given away almost 24,000 donated and refurbished bikes to date, accepts gently used bikes at its Essex “wheelhouse” at 36 Plains Road. Bikes may be left in racks by the door; if you leave a note with contact info including email, a note will be sent for tax purposes and you will receive BFK’s annual newsletter.

Boats: The goal of Clinton Sailing Club is to make sailing available to kids ages 8 to 18, regardless of income level. It accepts donations of vessels in good to excellent condition, which it either keeps to use as part of its program or sells to raise money for said programs, which also include lessons for adults.

Almost everything else: The clothing, appliances, computers, mattresses, cellphones (and more!) that are donated to The Salvation Army’s Southern New England Division are passed on to those in need or sold at its thrift stores whose proceeds fund its adult-rehabilitation center in Hartford for those struggling with drugs and alcohol. Pickups have been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, but items can be dropped off at eight family thrift stores as well as more than 70 clothing-and-shoe-donation drop boxes throughout the state.

More ways to give back:

Millennials are leading the way in charity and volunteering — and they’re changing the giving game.

Involved millennials and charity pros offer advice for how to get involved and make a difference.

Use our volunteer matcher to find the opportunities to give back that are right for you.

Looking to volunteer? These local organizations can use a hand.

How you can do some good for others without added COVID risk.

Still not sure which charity to give your hard-earned money? Ask givewell.org for suggestions.

Local organizations that need your donations.

Great ideas for helping older adults during the pandemic.

Some simple things you can do that spread joy and won’t cost you a thing.

Want to boost your own happiness and well-being? You can by helping others.

This article appears in the December 2020 issue of Connecticut MagazineYou can subscribe to Connecticut Magazine here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get our latest and greatest content delivered right to your inbox. Have a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com. And follow us on Facebook and Instagram @connecticutmagazine and Twitter @connecticutmag.