How to donate clothes to international orphanages

Updated November 21, 2016

Many people want to support international orphanages but don't always have the money to do so. One thing you can do is donate clothing, either new or gently used, to children who may not have access to it. To successfully donate clothing to an international orphanage, however, is not as easy as just mailing it. There are some guidelines you should follow to ensure your donation is needed and that it arrives safely at its destination.

Don't begin collecting clothing to send to an international orphanage until you are sure clothes are needed, and if so, what type. Many people, particularly after a natural disaster, randomly collect large amounts of new and used clothing only to discover that they don't know where to ship it, or that it is not needed.

After using the Internet to determine which orphanages would like donations, contact the one you wish to donate to and find out what styles and sizes of clothing are needed. Ask if it also accepts used clothing as well as new. Many organisations no longer accept used clothing, as it's difficult to clean and is often in poor condition when it arrives. Disposing of it can be costly too, and not something the orphanage can afford. Never donate used underwear or socks. In some countries, that is deemed offensive.

Get instructions from the orphanage on how clothing should be packaged, labelled and shipped. Customs departments in different countries have a variety of requirements, so you cannot assume that what is needed for a parcel to be accepted by customs in Egypt will be the same in Thailand. Tape a typed list of the contents of the package to the top or side of the box. This makes it easy for customs officials to assess the contents of the package without necessarily opening it.

Wash and press all used clothing before sending. If it's damaged or stained, do not send it. Do not send clothing featuring offensive slogans or pictures.

Package the clothing in damage-resistant packaging. Scrimping on packaging materials may result in parcels or boxes that are damaged or opened before they reach their destination. In some countries, content theft of mail is prevalent. Don't make it easy for a would-be thief.

Be aware that some countries charge extremely high taxes on imported clothing, even if the clothing is used, and the orphanage would have to pay the taxes. You do not want to send clothing to a country that may charge more in taxes than the clothes are worth. If this is the case, make a monetary donation to the orphanage instead.

If you discover donating clothing to an international orphanage is too costly, for yourself or for the orphanage, you can still sell the clothing in a garage sale at home and send the proceeds instead.


You can donate clothing in person to an international agency while travelling abroad. Contact the agency before you leave, so you can take clothing with you that is appropriate and needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • Packaging material
  • Shipping fees
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