The easiest ways to donate your old tech

Charities want your old devices -- even if they're broken.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal Freelance Writer
Sarah is a freelance writer and CNET How To blogger. Her main focus is Windows, but she also covers everything from mobile tech to video games to DIY hardware projects. She likes to press buttons and see what happens, so don't let her near any control panels.
Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
4 min read
Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

When you upgrade to a new phone, what do you do with your old one? You might sell it or give it to a friend or family member...or you might stick it in a drawer where it will wait to be discovered by future, nostalgic you.

Instead of letting tech waste away in a junk drawer, maybe you should consider donating it. Working technology -- even if it's old -- is expensive, and nonprofit organizations aren't exactly rolling in cash. Lots of charities would love to repurpose, recycle or sell your old devices (working or not) and offer you a tax break too.

Here are some places where you can quickly and easily donate your old tech, from smartphones and tablets to USB flash drives and fitness trackers.

Phones and tablets

Plenty of charities are willing to take old phones and tablets off your hands.

Cell Phones for Soldiers is a nonprofit organization that offers free communication services for deployed troops, as well as veteran assistance. This charity accepts phones, tablets and accessories in any condition. You pay for shipping (unless you're shipping 10 or more phones, in which case you can print a prepaid shipping label), and both the donation and the shipping costs are tax-deductible.

Verizon's HopeLine organization helps victims and survivors of domestic violence. HopeLine accepts phones, batteries, chargers and accessories in any condition (and from any carrier). Verizon will pay for you to ship your device to HopeLine; you may also take your donation to a local Verizon store.

Hope Phones is the phone donation branch of Medic Mobile, a nonprofit organization that helps fund health care programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Hope Phones accepts phones, batteries, chargers and accessories in any condition; the charity recycles donations and uses the proceeds to purchase new mobile tech for health care workers. Hope Phones pays for shipping, and your donation is tax-deductible.

While most mobile device charities will either refurbish your device or recycle it, you should still take precautions and make sure the device is wiped clean of any personal data before you hand it over.

Laptops and desktops

If your laptop works and is less than seven years old, InterConnection makes donation a snap. InterConnection is a Seattle-based nonprofit that repurposes old tech for nonprofits, schools, libraries, low-income families and disaster relief. The organization accepts laptops in any condition as long as they boot up, and promises to wipe your device of all data before putting it into circulation. InterConnection pays for shipping for laptop and phone donations, but if you want to donate a larger computer (such as a desktop) you can also drop off donations at one of its Washington locations.

For desktop donations, you'll probably need to look locally. Goodwill accepts electronics donations (including computers, monitors, keyboards, mice and other accessories). You may also want to ask public libraries or schools if they need an extra machine, especially if your computer is relatively new and in good working condition. Like phones and tablets, laptops and desktops should be wiped clean before donating -- it's not enough to just reformat the hard drive.

Activity trackers

Instead of letting your old Fitbit rot in the bottom of your gym bag, consider donating it to RecycleHealth. Tufts University-sponsored charity RecycleHealth is looking for fitness trackers to use in pilot fitness programs for people who can't afford them. The organization is looking for working fitness trackers of any brand and offers a prepaid shipping label on its Facebook page. RecycleHealth has nonprofit status through Tufts University, so your donation is tax-deductible.

Video games and consoles

When you tire of stomping radroaches in the Commonwealth, donate your gamer gear -- consoles, controllers and games -- to the Get-Well Gamers Foundation. The Get-Well Gamers Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supplies children's hospitals around the world with electronic entertainment. The foundation accepts classic and next-gen consoles, controllers, new and used games and accessories. You pay shipping, but the foundation will send you a tax-deductible receipt if you include a note with your name and return address.

Cords, cables and flash drives

If you donate a device, such as a phone or a laptop, you'll want to bundle it with its cords and cables. But what about all those extra cables you've somehow managed to accumulate? Your local Goodwill accepts computer accessories -- cables and USB cables included. You'll need to take your untangled mass of cables to a Goodwill location to donate; your donation is tax-deductible.

If you've managed to amass a pile of promotional USB flash drives, head over to RecycleUSB. RecycleUSB is a non-profit website that has teamed up with learning platform Sugar Labs to turn old flash drives into portable learning centers for children aged 5 to 12. RecycleUSB accepts working flash drives that are 1GB or larger. You pay shipping, and your donation is tax-deductible.