9 Ways To Donate Old Cell Phones

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If you keep your cell phone long enough, there will come a time when its better days are behind. What do you do with your device then?

While you could sell your old cell phone, why not 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.

First: 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? If you have an iPhone, Apple shows you how to erase its contents. Google also has steps that walk you through erasing what’s on an Android phone.

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:

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.

To give you confidence in the organizations listed below, we’ve taken the time to research their ratings with some of the top charity watchdog sites like Charity Navigator and CharityWatch. Where appropriate, we also sourced rating information from Trustpilot, a popular review site we’ve written about.


1. 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.

On Trustpilot, Cells4Pets has a 4.7 rating (out of 5) and is described as “excellent.”

2. Cell Phones for Soldiers

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

The organization has four out of four stars and a 92% rating on Charity Navigator.

3. 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.

Goodwill of North Georgia has four out of four stars and a 92% rating on Charity Navigator.

4. 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.

They have three out of four stars and an 83% rating on Charity Navigator.

5. 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.

Rain Forest Connection has three out of four stars and an 84% rating on Charity Navigator.


6. Salvation Army

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

Charity Navigator rates the Salvation Army as having three out of four stars and a 79% rating.

7. 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.

Women’s Resource Center has four out of four stars and a 97% rating on Charity Navigator

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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International has four out of four stars and a rating of 100% on Charity Navigator.

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.

Lastly, know that not all phone donation outfits are the same. CharityWatch says on its website, “If someone solicits you to donate a used cell phone on behalf of a particular charity, check to make sure that the charity is legitimate and if the charity is currently conducting a phone collection drive.”

Read our guide on how to check if a charity is legit.

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