Where to Donate Your Old Board Games

As board game enthusiasts, we’ve had a lot of great games pass through our household. As much as I’ve enjoyed our excitement-fueled game nights, I want other families and kids to enjoy them, too. 

That’s why I started to dig into great places to donate old family board games once the kids grow out of them. Believe it or not, many organizations would love your old board games. They can pass on the educational benefits and downright-silly fun of board games to kids who need it the most.

Are you ready to trade out some of your board game collection? Think about donating your old games to places that our family has enjoyed helping out before.

Local Families

Firstly, it’s a great idea to see if any local families could use some kid-friendly fun. I’ve found that Facebook community pages are a great way to find local families in need. 

Sometimes, you’ll find posts asking for donations for families whose homes have burned down, are new to the area, or in some kind of financially tight situation. Whatever the need, board games are a great and often overlooked donation to any cause. 

Often there are pages where you can post your board game. Free board games tend to get snapped up, as long as they are in good condition.

Don’t have access to a Facebook page for your community or area? You can always check in with local churches or other community organizations. They could either point you in the right direction or help distribute your board games for you.

Homeless Shelters and Orphanages

Look out for a homeless shelter or orphanage in your area. Chances are that it would be glad to accept board game donations. Just make sure to contact the organization to check first. 

Children staying in homeless shelters and orphanages don’t always have many personal possessions. Among their few possessions are often more practical items like clothes or blankets. A board game can brighten up any child’s life. Even for adults, board games can be a welcomed distraction and a fun way to pass the time. 

A homeless shelter will keep the donated board games for guests to use, or it will hand out the games to individuals. Either way, you’ll know that your old games are still providing countless hours of joy.

Therapy Centers and Hospitals

At some therapy centers and hospitals, therapists use board games as part of the treatment and recovery process. Board games are a great way to practice social and emotional skills in a low-pressure, safe environment. This is especially the case for autistic children.

Some hospitals and therapy centers won’t accept used board games for sanitary concerns. So you’ll want to call ahead and check with your organization to make sure your donation is acceptable.

Do you have any old, unopened board games that your family just never got into? Donating them to a hospital or therapy center is a great option. Your board games will thrill children during medical recovery. What’s more, they will be a great addition as part of a therapy session. Either way, those old board games are sure to keep putting smiles on kids’ faces.

Elementary Schools

All work and no play make for dull little boys and girls, so schools need board games to occupy students’ free time, too! Thankfully, public schools can accept new and used donations of all kinds. But like with anything else, it’s a good idea to check beforehand.

Many schools are feeling the effects of budget cuts. This makes it more difficult than ever for them to cater to the needs of their students. Receiving donations for items that are most likely not allocated for in an already-tight budget would be a great help.

If you’re not sure where to start, refer to this list of public school districts. Here, you can begin your search for an elementary school that could use your old board games.

Retirement Homes or Assisted Living Facilities

When we think of family board games, it’s often kids or families that come to mind. But your old board games can benefit older people as well. Often, elderly people in assisted living facilities have a lot of free time to spend. They would love activities that will help them pass the time in fun ways.

Some board games gear towards kids, but most are great for all ages! Board games are nearly always played sitting down. This makes them particularly helpful in nursing homes or care facilities. Wheelchair-bound players can easily take part and share in the fun!

Board games are also a great way for the elderly to engage in mental stimulation. Check out this list of the top games that can benefit seniors. Have you got any of these games? Consider checking with a local retirement home or care facility to see if they could use the donation.

YMCAs

Local YMCAs offer many benefits to the community. These include after-school programs and sports to gym access and community classes. As such, it’s a place where many kids spend a lot of free time. It caters to exercise activities but also invests in children on the mental and emotional level, too.

YMCAs partner with the community, so they are also a great place to donate board games. YMCAs can either use them themselves or pass them along to a family in need. 

Because they often act as a liaison, the YMCA takes just about any kind of donation you have. What they accept might vary from place to place, so make sure to check beforehand. However, used board games in good condition will almost always find a new home through the YMCA. 

Be sure to keep your eye out for opportunities through your local YMCA for item-specific collections and fundraisers. Some YMCAs host board-game drives like this one last year to benefit local charities. 

Local Gaming Stores and Board Game Cafes  

If you have more niche board games that cater to table-top board game enthusiasts, then it’s a great idea to check and see if your area has a local gaming store – that is, if you’re not a regular already!

Many of these gaming stores host community-open gaming nights at their locations. They would most likely gladly accept some of your gently pre-loved games. At places like these, patrons can use your board games to play and enjoy. They could even be demos that customers can inspect and experience before buying the game themselves.

The Spielbound hosts a game library and cafe, providing community access to games. Their mission is to help encourage learning and the arts. They’re worth checking out if you’re a local or ever in Omaha, as they accept used board game donations of all kinds!

Libraries

Like many local YMCAs, libraries often host many after-school clubs and activities. These programs would probably love board game donations. Local libraries seek to bring the community together. So, they will always be a great place to find engaging activities that don’t involve screen time.

The American Library Association supports the use of board games at its locations. Board games are fantastic for encouraging social interactions and mental and emotional growth for children. 

There are even some board games that bring kids together despite language barriers. This provides engaging diversion especially in areas where many languages are spoken.

As always, make sure to call ahead and check with your library to see what kind of donations they accept. 

Local Goodwills and Thrift Stores 

If all else fails and you can’t find a suitable place for board game donation in the list above, don’t worry! Local Goodwill and thrift stores are always a safe bet. 

Donations to places like these differ from other options. When you donate board games, they will sell them at a discounted price. Usually, they support charities or community services with the profits.

Not every organization accepts used board games. The Salvation Army has turned away these donations in the past. This shouldn’t turn you away from thrift stores. Plenty of others will gladly take them.

Board games aren’t on any updated list of items the organization cannot accept. So just make sure to check with the thrift store you choose before you go. 

Other Tips

Congratulations! You’ve picked out the perfect place to donate. Here’s what you need to know about moving forward with your used board games donations. 

Games With Broken or Missing Parts 

Now that you know what to do when donating board games, let’s talk about what NOT to do.

Have you ever played a board game without all the parts? Super annoying, right? Right. Donating games with missing parts can make the game very frustrating and disappointing for its next players. 

So make sure you include all original parts before sealing the box and donating. If you can, organize the parts well. The game’s future players will thank you!

Broken Game, a Queen lying on a broken chessboard

If you have games with ruined parts, it’s better to trash them than to donate. One other option is to recycle the games into your own board game.  See my article on DIY board games for inspiration.

Is your board game in good condition but missing the instruction manual? No big deal! You can always find one online to print out and staple to the inside of the box.

Tax Deductions

Remember that donation of board games to a charitable may, potentially, be used as a tax deduction on your tax forms for the year. If you donate a substantial amount of board games or other items, you might want to consult an accountant or a tax preparation service to help you file correctly.

I suspect the amounts will be small, and I’ve never done this myself. Obviously, this will depend on the jurisdiction anyway. To be clear: this isn’t tax advice. It’s advice to mention any donations to your accountant.

Other Options 

If you would rather not donate your used board games, there are other options for their reuse. Upcycling board games is a fun way to give your old games new life. 

You can take apart the set and save certain pieces, like game markers or dice, as extras. You can even use some parts of the board or game pieces for home or school projects or in decorating. 

And for the creative family that loves board games? You can even strip the board and pieces and allow your kids to put their imaginations to work. They could create their own board game that could become your family’s new favorite. 

Conclusion 

Board games are a great way to spend time together and can serve your family well for many years. When it’s time to give them up or trade them in, don’t fret! They can still serve to bring joy and entertainment to kids, families, and even seniors in your own area.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get started today! Check with your local organizations to see which can benefit the most from your old board games. Wherever you choose to donate, your games will end up in a great home. Their new owners will love the hours of fun that go with them.