If you're organizing or decluttering your home, you're going to have donations. That's a good thing. There's nothing better than donating something that no longer serves you to someone in need. When beginning your decluttering process, create two separate piles: Donation + Landfill.
When it comes to "in-kind donations" aka non-monetary donations, you have a few stellar options in Santa Cruz that are easy enough to drop it off and continue on with you day. As a Professional Organizer, I am making donation drop-offs on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day. Here are my favorites, some might be a shocker (in order by preference):
Grey Bears - An easy top choice as they are centrally located (2710 Chanticleer Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95065). There mission is to: "Improve the health and well-being of seniors and our community through food and meal deliveries, volunteerism, resource conservation and recycling." Which brings me to my other favorite thing about Grey Bears, they offer free recycling for tech waste, as well as styrofoam, cardboard, and many other items. It's much easier to drop off the latter here than driving to the dump and maybe getting a nail in your tire. *Note that they can be picky, so make sure to reference their latest list of accepted donation items.
Facebook Marketplace, yep...cringe AND it can be a great way to make sure someone in need is the direct recipient. If I have an especially great donation from clients, I might post a free listing or put it up in my neighborhood "Buy Nothing" group. There's lot of niche groups nowadays and folks are over the moon, as are my clients when I share the news. Bonus, this is a great way to make a donation if it is not accepted elsewhere, like carseats.
Caroline's - A great choice if you live closer to Aptos, CA (8047 Soquel Dr, Aptos, CA 95003) with a great mission to support children with special needs. I see them as a feeder donation thrift shop that uses their profits to keep sending the love and support. Again, make sure to double check what they accept before making the journey.
The easiest options is of course, Goodwill: They accept the most, have drop off places all over, and have great drop off hours. Although I would hope for a more direct to recipient option, the Goodwill makes it easy to make the drop-off which is essential to your decluttering and organizing journey. I use their 41st location (1550 41st Ave), as well as downtown SC (204 Union St), bonus if you're on the Westside (1500 Mission St), they also have an exclusion drop off spot on Mission which has even better hours and it extremely convenient.
Lastly, my favorite, the SPCA (across the street from Grey Bears (2601 Chanticleer Ave). Do check their list of accepted items (essentially no open food or medication containers and no choke chains). They have a blue bin outside of their front door making it a very easy process to drop off (you will not receive a receipt for taxes). I'll normally "hoard" my SPCA eligible items, then make a drop-off once I have a bag or two.
Congratulations for taking the first step in your decluttering and organizing journey! Making donations is a fabulous way to keep your energy high and get the job done. Moving forward, I would encourage you to designate a bin that is easy to get to called "Donations" and add to it on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis as you encounter items that no longer serve you. There is always someone that will treasure your items, giving them a second life, making donations the better option compared to trashing/the landfill (and cheaper). Good luck! -Sav