Tag Archives: charity

Check out our Charity Archives ! – APDO | Tags – Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers

Rails of brightly coloured clothes in a charity shop

What to do with your unwanted stuff

With UK Charity shops reporting record levels of donations in January (some have even closed their doors to donations as they are full), Sue Spencer of A Life More Organised gives us some suggestions about what to do with our unwanted stuff. Over to Sue…

Reuse, recycle or regift

As a professional organiser I work closely with my clients to try and reduce the number of discarded items which end up in landfill – my approach is reuse, recycle or regift.

  • Reuse – rather than buying new furniture or storage, look for ways of repurposing some of the things you already own.  Often moving furniture between rooms, or adding baskets to shelves in wardrobes, can change the look and feel of a space to suit your needs better.
  • Recycle – paper, plastics and metal can be recycled at your local household waste site. If you sort these in to boxes before leaving home, it makes it really easy to drop them off – my local household waste site is proud to recycle over 94% of the items it receives.
  • Regift (or donate) – your unwanted items to charity or pass on to friends, but do make sure that it’s something your friends need before you offload it on to them!

Donation suggestions

But what happens to the hard to donate items which charity shops don’t want?  Before putting them in the bin, have a quick look at the following suggestions as the chances are someone could find your unwanted “stuff” really useful.

Reading Glasses     

Most high street opticians will happily take your old reading glasses from you; they are sent off to Vision Aid Overseas who distribute them around the world, giving people the gift of sight again.

Rows of secondhand books for sale


Not all charity shops take books so if you have some which are in good condition, why not consider offering them to a local library, playgroup or school.

You could also try a trade-in site (We Buy Books, Ziffit or Music Magpie).  Download their apps and use the bar code reader to get an immediate trade-in value for your book.  Whilst some books are only worth 5p others do get trade-in values of £2-5. As postage is free, the income can soon mount up. One of my recent clients paid for her session with me through trading in some old books!

These trade-in sites also take DVDs and CDs and will accept mixed boxes of books and DVDs, something to bear in mind if you decide to go completely digital.

Bras – don’t burn them just yet

The charities Smalls for All and Against Breast Cancer accept bras which are in good used condition and then send them on to help women in African countries.

If you come across any unopened packets of ladies’ or children’s pants (or want to buy some to donate) then Smalls for All will also take these.

A pair of blue high heel shoes being discarded


Most charity shops will accept shoess but there are also a charities, such as Sal’s Shoes which collect outgrown children’s shoes and distribute them to countries around the world – finding, in their words, “new feet for preloved shoes”.

Toiletries and Make Up

If you have a stash of toiletries left over from Christmas gifts or some miniatures acquired from hotel bathrooms which you’re not going to use, why not contact your local council to see if they have a collection scheme for a local women’s refuge or homeless centre as they are always looking for donations to give to the people who go to them for help.

Give and makeup is a charity which helps women in the London and Cardiff areas and will take toiletry and make up donations by post.


Homeless centres and night shelters are always grateful for donations of unwanted bedding such as sheets, duvets and blankets but it’s always worth checking to see what they need (my local night shelter can only take single duvets).

If you’re an animal lover then vets or animal charities may also take some bedding blankets and towels to use as bedding in cages.

Rails of brightly coloured clothes in a charity shop

Clients often say that not knowing what to do with their edited belongings can be a block to getting these items out of their house. Now that you have some ideas about where to donate and send your items, you can declutter with peace of mind, knowing that your unwanted items will soon be on their way to becoming useful once again and bringing joy to someone else.

If you would like some guidance with your own decluttering, you can find your local professional organiser here.

APDO Donate-a-Day Smart Works

Smart Works just got smarter!

How do you take an already efficiently-run stockroom and make it even better? Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson (Declutter with Hannah) and nine other APDO colleagues did just that as part of National Organising Week (NOW) last week with North London charity Smart Works.

The team, headed up by Marcella Caricasole (Think Tidy), joined forces to organise the stockroom and offices of the charity Smart Works as part of APDO’s annual Donate a Day where professional organisers donate a day of their time and expertise to charities.

“Having an opportunity to work in a team with my awesome colleagues was the strongest appeal. Doing so for the benefit of such a terrific charity was the icing on the cake,” said Arianna Steigman (Reclaim your Space), a sentiment that was echoed by the whole team.

Donate a Day was an idea introduced by APDO’s President Katherine Blackler (SortMySpace) in 2016 when a team of six organisers helped to organise a charity’s​ new stockroom. Katherine says “This year I was delighted to participate in one of 10 events across the country involving over 40 APDO members. It’s amazing to see an idea grow with such momentum.”

APDO Donate-a-Day Smart Works shoe organising

In her element sorting shoes; Heidi Vorster (All Organised)

Smart Works is a UK charity which provides high-quality interview clothes, styling advice and interview training to women in need.  They give women the confidence, the self-belief and the practical tools they require to succeed at interview and start a new chapter of their life.

Hannah said “Smart Works’ attention to detail in making their clients feel comfortable and special is so inspiring. We were very lucky to have had the opportunity to help make their already well-organised space even easier to manage.”

After being shown around Smart Works and learning more about the valuable work they do, APDO members got stuck in: organising rails of clothing, categorising shoes and bags, fixing and organising jewellery, steaming and mending clothes, and sorting out pedestals of paperwork.

APDO Donate-a-Day Smart Works Lizzie Grant

“A very long facial” described the day for Lizzie Grant (Simplify Stuff) steaming clothes

After five hours of focused activity everyone felt very positive and happy with what they had accomplished, and they had enjoyed some good giggles along the way.

“It’s very inspiring to see so many beautiful clothes and accessories and how much love and care has been put onto creating this amazing walk-in wardrobe which will change the lives of so many women who are trying to get back into work,” said Filipa do Carmo (Khôra : Space . Sorted)

Sarah Owen (A Place for Everything) said “I wanted to be part of Donate a Day because I really liked the idea of teaming up with other APDO colleagues and giving my time and expertise to a charity which would benefit from my help. I was particularly impressed with the work that Smart Works does supporting women getting back into the workplace. It was a fun day to boot, so a ‘Win Win’ for all.”

Nicki Munns (All Organised) gets to grips with 2017’s donation documents

One of the achievements in the office was liberating a pedestal by reviewing, culling and organising older paperwork. “It’s a task which often slides down the list as day-to-day demands shout louder,” explained Sam Hofer (Untangled), “but creating that additional space by scanning or shredding historical paperwork can make such a difference so it’s really worth the time investment.”

Smart Works were delighted to host the APDO team “Thank you all so much…your expertise was incredibly valuable to our staff, volunteers and clients.”

Catch the team in action with the video round-up of the day activities.

APDO Donate-a-Day Smart Works

Group photo (from left to right):

Front: Arianna Steigman (Reclaim your Space), Lizzie Grant (Simplify Stuff), Sarah Owen (A Place for Everything), by Marcella Caricasole (Think Tidy), Nicki Munns (All Organised) and Filipa do Carmo (Khôra : Space . Sorted)

Back: Hannah Ashwell-Dickinson (Declutter with Hannah), Sam Hofer (Untangled), Heidi Vorster (All Organised) and Katherine Blackler (SortMySpace).


You can read about more Donate a Day activity by APDO members here!

APDO NOW 2018 Donate-a-Day

Kicking off NOW 2018 with GRACE

How long does it take four professional organisers to move 169 boxes from one stockroom to another? As Chloe Howat of Declutter With Chloe and her three team members found out during this National Organising Week (NOW) Donate-A-Day, you can accomplish a lot in an hour!

On the opening day of NOW 2018, Ingrid Jansen of Organise Your House; Sarah Bickers of Free Your Space; Carrie Ottolini – Professional Organiser and Chloë joined forces in South East London to help local charity, GRACE Refugee Aid organise their donation centre.

GRACE Refugee Aid

Created in 2015 in response to the growing refugee crisis, GRACE Refugee Aid sends clothing and essential supplies to those in need along the migration route in Greece and Syria. The Lee-based charity also supports destitute families locally and abroad with much needed clothing, bedding and baby accessories.

GRACE relies on generous donations from the local community, as well as an army of volunteers to sort and distribute donated clothing, shoes and more. But as GRACE founder Claire explained, “We’ve been in a state of disorganisation as core volunteers have been away over the last few months. We need help to put us back together again.” Time to call in the professionals.

APDO NOW 2018 Donate-a-Day Before

GRACE Refugee Aid: Before

The Donate-a-Day

During this Donate-A-Day, masterminded by former APDO President Ingrid Jansen, the team of four set out to improve GRACE’s stockroom efficiency by rethinking its layout and relocating clothing and footwear sorting stations. The often-neglected shoe racks were moved to a more prominent position to ensure they were given the attention needed to prepare them for shipping, and all donation boxes ready for collection were brought to the back of the building by the loading bay.

After four hours of heavy-lifting and a helping hand from GRACE volunteer Tara, the APDO team had created a more organised and efficient system for sorting donations. And we’re pleased to report ‘the client’ was equally thrilled with the results. Claire said, “It’s been absolutely fantastic having four APDO members helping out and getting us ready for our next shipment. I can’t say how grateful I am.”

APDO NOW 2018 Donate-a-Day After

GRACE Refugee Aid: After

And what did our APDO members make of the day?

“I fully support Donate-A-Day because it’s important for us as professional organisers to give back. We have such special skills that we can share with others. We donate a lot to charity shops thanks to our clients but to be able to donate our time and skills is really important too. And GRACE Refugee Aid couldn’t be a more worthy cause to support”, said Ingrid.

Chloë added, “It never ceases to amaze me what APDO members can achieve when we work together, especially when we’re motivated by such a valuable and essential cause. In just a few short hours, GRACE’s stockroom became a functional space with a defined system for sorting donations.”

“Being new to the professional organising industry and seeing the time and effort given during Donate-A-Day by professional organisers is amazing. I was thrilled to be involved, we made such a huge difference to the organisational systems used at GRACE.  I feel proud to be part of such great association, helping others to get organised during National Organising Week”, said Carrie.

Sarah added, “During National Organising Week we focus on the organising element of our job as opposed to the decluttering we are usually better known for. Doing a Donate-A-Day with a charity is an incredibly rewarding challenge for everyone involved. This is the third year of Donate-A-Day and I can’t recommend it enough – it’s wonderful to be a part of something like this”.

APDO N2018 Donate-a-Day group

National Organising Week

A huge thank you to Ingrid, Sarah, Carrie and Chloë for donating their time during NOW 2018. And keep your eyes peeled for more Donate-A-Day action throughout the week from professional organisers across the country, as well as professional tips and tricks to help you get organised, and a series of daily interviews with professional organisers from around the UK.

You can read more about APDO members’ activity this National Organising Week on the blog. And if this has inspired you to get more organised this NOW2018, you can find your local professional organiser here.



Dress for Success Donate a Day

“Donate a Day” to Charity


Dress for Souccess APDO log

This guest post is provided by Katherine Blackler (SortMySpace Ltd) who covers London and the South East. She talks fondly of turning her vision to help a worthwhile cause into reality for NOW National Organising Week 2016.

A brand-new initiative for NOW 2016 last November saw six hardy APDO members donate a days work to the charity Dress for Success Greater London to celebrate the benefits of getting organised NOW.

Dress for Success is a global charity that empowers women who have fallen on hard times by providing them with a network of support, professional attire and the developmental tools to thrive. The ultimate aim is for women to achieve economic independence. Women are trained and prepared for interviews and, on getting work provided with a free capsule wardrobe and ongoing support.

Katherine Blackler (SortMySpace Ltd) had the idea of APDO members volunteering as a team, and five other APDO members jumped at the chance to lend their time and expertise. ‘We initially reached out to this charity to support them, as we  could see obvious synergies between APDO members decluttering surplus clothing in our clients wardrobes and DfS kitting out women to face the corporate world. However,once we arrived onsite and saw the extent of their inventory, we realised that what they needed more than anything else was volunteer time, organisational experience and cash to reach the women who need them most! Even after our visit that need still applies’

Before Pictures


The Dress for Success Greater London branch had moved premises during October and were still overwhelmed, with over 300 boxes of clothes, shoes and accessories filling their new East London stock room to the ceiling. Fionnuala Shannon, Director of Operations & Programmes at DfS Greater London, had been delighted at the offer of some assistance from APDO

‘We receive generous donations of end of season clothing from high street retailers including Next, Eileen Fisher, Marks and Spencer, Mulberry, Viyajiyu and JD Williams but were struggling to deliver our usual professional service to our clients from our new HQ. We loved the vibrancy that the APDO team brought that day; now we can quickly find any surplus stock items to sell in our monthly sales to the general public, which raises more funds for DfS Greater London’

Nancy DeBroka (The Zen Home), Julie Stevens (Younique Designs Ltd), Sarah Bickers (Free Your Space), Caroline Rogers (Room To Think) and Ingrid Jansen (Organise Your House) joined Katherine to blitz the stockroom on 8 November. In order to maximise the teams contribution on the day, Katherine had spent an evening with Sheila Nilsson, DfS Greater London’s Boutique and Volunteers Manager, measuring and designing the new layout and checking shelving inventory. Nancy had organised APDO branded T-shirts and aprons to reflect the teamwork and camaraderie of the UK’s industry organising experts. We all admitted that with six independent organisers in a small room there was potential for clashes of opinions on how to get the job done, but it was heart-warming to see how we all pulled together,

Ingrid explains ‘Being natural organisers, each of us spotted what they could do next and simply took on a role to keep us moving forwards. I was so proud to see my members working in harmony together like this, and for such a great cause. I’d love to do something like this every year, and to see similar charity events happen across the UK for NOW 2017.

After Pictures


In the spirit of such collaboration, Julie took on the role of our social media onsite rep, liaising with Kate Ibbotson (A Tidy Mind & APDO Head of PR & Social Media) and running Facebook Live videos during the day. Caroline volunteered for the less enviable task of opening, identifying and labelling all the ‘magical mystery’ boxes we’d had to drag outside in the cold. This gave Sarah the space inside to become such an expert at building clothing racks that she could nail a round of Crystal Maze blindfolded if that task arose! Caroline and Sarah then organised and re-packed the shed with all their surplus stock – a real Tetris task! Nancy single-handedly matched and arranged over 100 pairs of shoes on the racks she’d just built. Meanwhile Ingrid freed the kitchen of clothing as early as possible to keep us all easily refreshed, and kept us on track in order to have cleared everything from the outside courtyard before dusk fell. And Katherine, having done so well to pull the day and the team together somehow managed to get squished between two racks of clothes as they were enthusiastically moved to their new location on the floor plan she’d designed!


As you can probably tell, we all had a great giggle and thoroughly enjoyed working together. As Sarah said, ‘Most of us usually work solo with our clients so this was a great opportunity to feel a part of something bigger, to get to know some APDO members more personally, and to do something really productive and worthwhile at the same time.’ Caroline reflected that the day was ‘typical of my own experience of working in the voluntary sector where organisations are often under resourced. It felt very worthwhile to give our time to a place where it was so valued and relevant.

And Dress for Success Greater London are still enjoying the experience too emailing us with this afterwards:

‘I wanted to say a big Thank You to your wonderful organisation, APDO. You have certainly allowed us to be more functional and practical, which saves us time, energy and frustration when looking for items for our clients.  Who would have believed when you all came to sort our space, declutter and organise our storage room that you would have achieved this in five hours? You are all truly amazing and we are very grateful to APDO for making Dress for Success a de-cluttered success’!
Sheila Nilsson
*Boutique and Volunteer Manager*

There really is no task which APDO members find too overwhelming. They simply want to help you make positive change to your space. If you would benefit from their expertise, find an organiser near you. Or if you’re a natural organiser, find out more about joining APDO and our training opportunities.