Donations are another way of getting your postcards to people who can appreciate them. Museums, libraries or historical societies can provide homes for cards that may have historical value. The nature and condition of your other cards will determine whether organizations such as schools, nursing homes, hospitals, youth groups, or service organizations can use them. The reference librarian in your local library is a good resource to help you locate appropriate institutions for donations.
Donating postcards to a museum or historical society may be a good route if the cards are historically important, fill a gap in the organization’s records, and are appealing to a specific audience. However, most museums and historical societies are highly selective about acquiring new material and may have quality standards that must be met before they can consider your donation. They may not have the staff or funds to catalog, store and display more than a handful of cards. The museum, library, or society director can give you the best reading on whether your collection fits into their acquisition plans. They may also have suggestions for contacting other museums or libraries with special collections where your postcards would be a better fit.
A more recent trend is to arrange for a short-term loan for a temporary or traveling exhibit, or to make digital images for online use by the organization. This reduces annual operating costs and could even allow your cards to reach a larger audience. Once the loan period expires, the postcards would be returned to you.
Before loaning or donating high-value postcards to an institution, find out about their financial status and provisions for storing and caring for your collection. An institution with inadequate resources may not be able to protect against environmental damage to your treasures or may be forced to sell them to resolve debts. Some collectors want their collection to remain whole, while others are satisfied with it being split to serve the needs and interests of the institution. Decide whether they will be allowed to sell duplicate items or cards from your collections that do not fit their archival needs.
Colorado postcard collectors can consider donating historically significant cards to the Denver Public Library’s Western History Collection, History Colorado, and the Fort Lewis Center of Southwest Studies.
Examine the museum’s donation policy to ensure that it meets your own goals for the collection. An institution may be more likely to accept your donation if you allow them the flexibility to exhibit or sell separate parts of your collection. You might also consider offsetting the costs of managing your collection by donating money in support of their operations.
Other organizations may accept donations of postcards to support their missions in education, community service, service to their members, or communication and business needs. Inquire with organization leaders or directors about the types of cards that can be used by the organization and offer to donate only those specified. To select which cards to donate, ask about the features of cards they will accept—for instance, whether the cards must be postally unused, from a specific era, or of a particular size.
If the organization you approach is not currently using postcards, give them some ideas from our web pages on Exploring Postcards and Kids & Students. They may look on your donation more eagerly once they have broadened their thinking on how to integrate postcards into their activities.
A legitimate non-profit organization will be registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt entity and can provide you with a receipt that supports your tax-deductible donation.
Donating Your Postcards
Denver Postcard Club