I Didn’t Know Donation Takes Work — Andrea Stories

It’s not as easy as just dumping your stuff somewhere

Andrea Makoto
5 min readApr 1, 2024
Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash


Earlier this Feb / March, I decided to finally organise my room’s bookshelf (which stood at roughly 160cm). And amidst the mess, I discovered so many stationery and books that were still in decent usable condition, and some still within its original packaging. I found it a waste to throw them away and wanted to donate them instead.

Up till then, I’ve never donated in my own personal capacity. Any past donation I’ve made had been through events organised by a school or social organisation. So this time round, I had to “organise” my own donation. And quite honestly, I didn’t know it would take this much work 😮

Process Of Donation


First and foremost, I started to google for places accepting donations of books and / or stationery.

In Singapore, I think when the public thinks of where to donate, a very common answer would be “The Salvation Army”. More specifically, its social enterprise arm: Red Shield Industries (RSI). With its numerous donation booths spread around the island, I won’t be surprised if they receive an overwhelming amount of donation every year. Therefore, I wanted to find other organisations to donate to.

Thanks to Google search, I came across this article: https://singaporemotherhood.com/donate-books-singapore-update/ which listed several places or events one could donate to. I narrowed down to the section “Permanent Places to Donate Books” and considered donating my books to Dignity Mama.

Next, I proceeded to read through their website carefully to understand what kind of books they accepted and the instructions for books drop-off. Filtering out specific books suitable for donation to an organisation was a step that I did not expect, as I had naively thought that all books in decent conditions would be accepted 😅 For instance, Dignity Mama was not keen on accepting dictionaries (at time of my enquiry).

Reaching out and coordination

Every organisation has its own procedures for donation.

For Dignity Mama, one would have to submit a form on their page to inform and arrange for book drop off, then wait for a Dignity Mama manager to be in touch. The response time was quite fast, within the next day! I was also informed to keep to a maximum of 30 books or magazines due to space constraints.

Side note: Convenience was a factor of consideration for me when choosing which organisation to donate to. Since Dignity Mama had a drop off point at NUH, it was quite convenient for me as I usually headed to NUS once every week.

After receiving the “green light” from a Dignity Mama manager, I packed the books that “fitted the bill”, which fitted nicely into 2 A4 boxes. That took 1–2 hours. I also asked my good friend J to help out with the delivery of the books and she was very kind to agree to lend a helping hand (and a car). Thank you loads J!

Books donated at Dignity Mama NUH drop off point | Source: Author

As for stationery, I decided to reach out to MINDS, as they had set up a few MINDS shop which were accepting donations. I sent an email to the Social Enterprise team of MINDS via se@minds.org.sg to check if they were accepting stationery or books donations.

During the process of liaising with them, I was asked if there was a specific centre or school that I would like to contribute to, which I had none in mind. But out of curiosity, I decided to ask where did they usually channel donations to, and whether students from MINDS would receive the pre-loved items for usage.

That was how I learnt that items received at MINDS shop would be resold and revenue earned would be channelled to beneficiaries within an employment centre. (By the way, this process is also similar for Dignity Mama.) However, items could be channelled to schools if requested. I followed up by stating my preference for latter, and was subsequently introduced to the MINDS Engagement Team.

What followed was a few rounds of back and forth emails to coordinate the drop off locations and timings. The email thread spanned over almost a month. I eventually donated my stationery and some books to Fernvale Gardens School. Once again, thanks to J for helping out on the delivery! 😄

Fernvale Gardens School | Source: Author
Stationery donated to Fernvale Gardens School | Source: Author

If you’re also keen on donating to schools, here are 4 special education (SPED) schools under MINDS for your consideration:

  • Fernvale Gardens School (7 Fernvale Road, Singapore 797635)
  • Woodlands Gardens School (30 Woodlands Ring Road, #01–04/05, Singapore 737883)
  • Lee Kong Chian Gardens School (802 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149311)
  • Towner Gardens School (1B Lengkong Lima, Singapore 417557)

Alternatively, you can also donate to schools within your neighbourhood.

Admin work

I was also requested by MINDS engagement team to provide a rough estimation of all items donated, for administrative and recording purposes. This culminated in me setting up a spreadsheet to log each item’s name, quantity and estimated cost. Haha, the total estimated value surprised me 🤣

Finding every cost was quite difficult. Not all items had visible price tags, nor were they listed online. In those cases, I had to find similar items online (e.g. Popular store) and use those prices as a reference. All in all, I think I took another few hours to collate the list as accurately as I could, while simultaneously packing too.

This administrative work was definitely another step that I did not expect to do as part of the donation process 🤣

Author’s Note

So yes, this experience taught me that donation does takes work.

It takes time and effort to:

  • do research of which organisations accepted donations of what items
  • reach out to organisations and coordinate with them
  • pack the items nicely (filtering only what’s accepted)
  • arrange delivery (for my case, I worked on matching J’s schedule and availability)
  • record down list and cost of items donated, if required by the organisation

Compared to just discarding things directly, donating may even feel tiring. But I’m still glad I chose to donate and do what I can to help the beneficiaries 😃

Happy donating! Thank you for reading!

Originally published at https://andreastories.com on April 1, 2024.