20 Ways To Donate Old Cell Phones

Many people choose to sell their old cell phones to help cover the cost of the new device. Not interested in selling your old cell phone? Instead of throwing it away, consider donating it to a good cause!

In this article, I’ll share some ways to donate your old cell phones to places that can use them.
I’ll also share tips from money expert Clark Howard and Team Clark.

What to Do With Your Old Phone

I periodically donate gadgets and other items to my local Goodwill store, but while researching this article, I've found even more places that accept phones. 

First off, it's important to note that before you donate your phone you should erase all your personal data. That way, you won't compromise your personal information.

Need help? Here's how to wipe your device before getting rid of it.

As it turns out, there are many second lives for an old phone — even one that is damaged or no longer working.
In this article, I’ll cover:

Where to Donate Your Old Cell Phone

If you want to donate your phone, many charities, school programs and community groups accept mobile phones that they can either give to the needy or refurbish and sell.

1. 911 Cell Phone Bank

Facilitated by law enforcement agencies and support groups, 911 Cell Phone Bank’s gets phones to people who may need to dial 911 in an emergency. The organization’s website says, “Your device donations go to vulnerable residents across the country.”

2. American Cell Phone Drive

The American Cell Phone Drive collects devices to distribute in communities across the nation. American Cell Phone Drive works with more than 4,000 organizations, the group says on its website.

3. Cell4Pets

The nonprofit organization Cell4Pets will take your donated phone, sell it and give a portion of the proceeds to a no-kill animal shelter.

4. Cell Phones for Soldiers

Cell Phones for Soldiers accepts mobile devices to give to active-duty members of the military as well as veterans.

5. eBay for Charity

When listing your phone for sale on eBay, eBay for Charity allows you to select a charity to benefit from the proceeds of the sale.

6. Goodwill

If you have a Goodwill near you, that's a great place to donate your old phone. "Unused cell phones make up one of the fastest-growing kinds of trash in America. Goodwill works with partners to collect and recycle phones," the charity says on its website.

7. Medic Mobile

Medic Mobile takes your donated cell phone and recycles it to fund health care programs in 26 countries around the world.

8. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) partners with Cellular Recycler to get phones into the hands of domestic abuse victims.

9. Pickup Please

Available in 13 states, Pickup Please will pick up your phone for free and donate the proceeds to Vietnam Veterans of America. All you have to do is schedule a pickup online and a driver will arrive and leave you a tax deduction receipt.

10. Rainforest Connection

San Francisco-based startup Rainforest Connection has created a system using donated cell phones to alert villagers of illegal logging in foreign countries.

11. Recycling For Charities

Recycling For Charities allows you to recycle cell phones and other electronics for cash and then donate the proceeds to a charity of your choice.

12. Salvation Army

Your local Salvation Army will take your donated cell phone. You can schedule a donation pickup online.

13. Second Wave Recycling

Second Wave Recycling works with charities to collect phones — working or non-working — for recycling.

14. Secure The Call

SecureTheCall.org distributes donated phones to agencies, companies, and institutions across the nation that redistribute the phones to individuals who are not only in need but also at a high risk for needing emergency services. Right now, the organization is sending phones to hospitals for use by COVID patients. 

15. Veterans Advantage

Veterans Advantage's Recycle & Reward campaign takes donated cell phones and sends them to needy veterans as part of their Give the Gift of VetRewards program.

16. Women’s Resource Center

The Women's Resource Center takes donated phones and either refurbishes or recycles them and uses the proceeds for its programs.

Where to Recycle Old Cell Phones

There are several organizations that facilitate the recycling of old phones either for the environment or for other good causes. Here are some places that will recycle your cell phone.

17. Best Buy

Best Buy has a recycling program for old phones and other electronics. Just go to your local Best Buy and look for the recycling kiosk near the front door.

18. Cellular Recycler

Cellular Recycler, a nonprofit organization that specializes in electronic trade-ins, makes it easy to send in your old phone. It also offers a Collection Kit for organizations interested in holding trade-in fundraisers.

19. The Fossey Fund

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International works with zoos and has partnered with Eco-Cell to recycle cell phones. The proceeds go to animal conservation efforts.

20. Smart Phone Recyclers

SmartPhoneRecyclers.com will pay you to recycle your phone and says you can get up to $400 per smartphone and tablet.

More Uses for Your Old Cell Phone

Many people have old phones in a dresser drawer or at their bedside that they keep as a second device. An old cell phone can sometimes be used for:
  • Data storage device (old photos, music, videos, etc.)
  • An alarm clock or timer
  • A calculator

Team Clark member Theo has a great suggestion. "If you have an old cell phone that's not really worth selling, it can be a great addition to your emergency kit — which you should have prepared and ready to go in case bad weather hits or even worse, a natural disaster or other emergency situation," Theo says.

911.gov says, "all wireless phones, even those that are not subscribed to or supported by a specific carrier, can call 911." So you don't need to pay for wireless service for an old phone in order to reach a 911 center in case of an emergency.

Final Thoughts

Even if you don’t choose to donate your phone, don’t throw it in the garbage.
Many phones are made up of toxic materials that can harm the environment so you need to make sure that you dispose of them responsibly.

And remember, if you're donating your phone, make sure to wipe the data off your phone to get rid of all of your files, programs and apps on the device.

More Cell Phone Resources From Clark.com:

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