If you have a prom dress that you no longer need, don't let it hang in the back of your closet and gather dust for another day. Instead, donate it! It's actually easy to donate a prom dress and have it go to a great cause, allowing other people to feel just as beautiful as you did when you wore it.
There are a number of nonprofit organizations that specialize in collecting donated prom dresses and distributing them at no charge to less privileged high school students. Each option is unique, but there's definitely one that fits your values and priorities.
Once Upon a Prom
Want to give your dress to someone who needs a great prom look? Once Upon a Prom has been working with less privileged girls, boys, and non-binary teens for more than a decade. It was started by a high school student and continued by her sisters. Now it's a national organization accepting donations of both dresses and money.
How to Donate a Prom Dress
Based at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland, Once Upon a Prom has donation boxes in front of the high school. You can also contact Once Upon a Prom to mail in dresses, gift cards, accessories, and money for them to distribute (they gave away over 500 dresses in April of 2022, and they continue to grow). Dresses should be clean, in good condition, and in any size.
Focus on Inclusivity
Once Upon a Prom prioritizes inclusivity and does not ask questions or have requirements for those who need the dresses. They respect students' privacy and personal choices.
It's good to donate a prom dress soon after prom, rather than hanging onto it for a few years. That way, it will be on-trend and super useful to other teens. Dry clean it, fix any broken straps or zippers, and send it off to your chosen prom dress charity ASAP.
With chapters nationwide, Operation Prom is a registered not-for-profit organization with a home base in Bronxville, New York. It has helped thousands of teenagers around the United States attend their proms in style.
Prom Dress Donations
Starting in the fall each year, Operation Prom provides a list of places across the country where you can take your prom dresses for donation. To prepare for when you can next donate, you can have your gently used dress dry cleaned. Since plus sizes are more limited in their availability, they are especially needed. All sizes, from 0 to 24, are accepted.
Dress Give-Away Events
Operation Prom gets dresses into the hands of students who need them by hosting dress give away events in the early fall for homecoming dances and the early spring for proms. For updates on the events, visit their website.
Social workers and guidance counselors typically refer teens to Operation Prom. Since teens must be passing classes and demonstrate a financial need, you can rest assured that the donated dresses are fairly distributed. The organization also works on other projects to benefit teens.
Becca's Closet was founded in memory of Rebecca Kirtman. Rebecca was a caring young woman who tragically passed away in a car accident only a few months after single-handedly organizing a prom dress drive for girls in her community. Becca's Closet aims to continue her vision and generous spirit as it matches gently used formal dresses with teens who otherwise may miss out on special occasions like the prom.
Giving a Prom Dress
Although Becca's Closet is based in Southern Florida, it accepts dress donations all over the United States. In addition to prom dresses, this unique organization also accepts formal shoes and accessories. Contact your local chapter for specific needs in your community. Basically, you need to be sure the prom dress is free from damage. It should be in current styles. If it's over five years old, it is probably going to be too outdated for the needs of Becca's Closet, but you can still donate it to your local secondhand shops. Clean the prom dress before donating it; it needs to look ready to wear.
Becca's Closet also invites concerned volunteers to help out in other ways beyond prom dress donation too. Volunteer at your local chapter if you have extra time available. You can also help by making a monetary donation to one of this charity's causes.
The WGirls, an international organization with chapters across the United States and the United Kingdom, hosts a dress donation group called Project G.L.A.M. that aims to help disadvantaged teens attend their proms. Since the inception of Project G.L.A.M., it has garnered a great deal of press and praise. From big cities like New York and Los Angeles to very small towns across the nation, this organization receives and distributes prom dresses of all sizes to teens who want and need them.
Sending In Your Prom Dress
Go through your closet and identify any formal dresses that you no longer need. As long as they are not tattered, dirty, or torn, they should be gleefully accepted by this organization. Dry clean the dress prior to sending it on its way. If you have any unopened makeup, unneeded jewelry, pretty purses, or gently-worn formal shoes, these items are also needed. You can mail them along with your dress donation.
Prepare to feel the joy of giving back! Donate your considerately used prom dress at any time throughout the year. Simply wrap it well, and address any packages you send to the attention of The WGIRLS INC. You can find the address on the website, along with a list of donation centers for those who live in New York City or Long Island. All others are encouraged to mail their donations.
The G.L.A.M. Pledge
In order to continue its important work with underprivileged youth, the WGirls encourage concerned individuals of all ages to take the G.L.A.M. Pledge. By donating as little as five dollars, you can keep their important mission alive and see to it that yet another teen has a chance to go to their prom, rather than sit it out due to their family's financial constraints. This G.L.A.M. Pledge reiterates that you are making a difference in the life of another teen in need.
The Princess Project
The Princess Project operates out of San Diego, California. It makes sure that thousands of new and nearly new dresses find their way to teens in need each year. The services of the Princess Project are always free to the teens who need them.
How To Donate Your Prom Dress
Prom dresses in all sizes from 0 to 30 are needed. Both new and gently used, prom-appropriate dresses are welcomed as long they were made after 2017. Also, leave casual and matronly attire at home. The cut-off date for donations is subject to change, so check the organization's donation guidelines for the most recent information.
Check your dress for signs of irrevocable wear and tear because all clothes should be in good condition. Be sure to dry clean the dress before donation, then turn it in on the hanger.
If you live near San Diego, you can donate your dress at one of their partner drop off locations. Alternatively, you can mail your dress to their shipping address, which is 110 West A Street ste:1100, San Diego, CA 92101. The same dress standards apply for mailed donations.
How It Works
Like most organizations that strive to help financially challenged teen teens go to their prom, the Princess Project does hold an annual give-away event. Unlike most, though, it is also has programs that connect teens and volunteers throughout the year, instead of just during prom season. Also during the event season, teens who can get together a group of at least 10 other teens who can demonstrate a need for a dress don't have to wait until the one day for dress give-aways. If they enlist the help of an adult chaperone, they can enjoy an appointment for a private boutique night.
Perks for All
The Princess Project strives to increase the self-confidence of young people, no matter what their financial situation may be. Since it began in 2002 with the goal of helping one young girl in need, it has grown to impact the lives of thousands of underprivileged teens every single year. Since it also works with many young volunteers, the group strives to help strengthen the confidence of youth through every aspect of its program.
Priceless Gown Project
Serving underprivileged teens in the greater area of Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C., the Priceless Gown Project will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2024. This non-profit organization gives free dresses and accessories to area high schoolers who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend their junior and senior proms in style. As a leading organization in the area for helping teens' dreams come true, it has received substantial press coverage.
Prom Dress Donations
The Priceless Gown Project gratefully accepts help in the form of financial contributions, local volunteer work, and gently used dress donations. The organization accepts stylish dresses that are still in good shape from all over the country. However, they only accept dresses at certain times of the year, so be sure to email theme at email@example.com to confirm when donations will next be accepted. Monetary donations are accepted throughout the year, while volunteers are typically needed for the prom boutique days.
How It Works
There's an annual Priceless Prom Boutique that is usually held at a fancy hotel or other nice venue. It's set up to make the teens who are there for prom dresses feel special. Each teen receives their own personal shopper who helps them select a dress that's just right for their size, features, and preferences. With well over a thousand dresses that are typically donated, the teens have a huge selection of dresses to peruse. They're treated with respect and dignity, and they come out of the experience with an outfit and accessories, when needed, to go to their prom in style.
How to Donate Your Prom Dress Locally
If you don't live near one of these charities that specialize in prom dresses, you can still donate your gown in your community. There are a few ways to make that happen:
- Donation centers - Donate your dress to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or another non-profit donation center in your town.
- High schools - Call the local high school or stop by the office to see if there's a specific place to drop off your dress for use by other students.
- Religious organizations - Churches and other religious centers might have donation drop-offs around prom time. It's worth asking if there's a large community of faith in your area.
- Classified sites - List your dress for free on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or any other classified site.
Sure, donating your prom dress is an altruistic effort that's usually done with no expectation of anything in return, but how fabulous is it that you just may find yourself on the receiving end of some unexpected perks? When you file your taxes, the value of the dress you donate is tax-deductible.
Make Someone's Dream Come True
Keep in mind that many teens would not be able to acquire appropriate prom attire without access to donated prom dresses. There's no reason to hang on to prom dresses that you'll never wear again when they could be put to good use. Your closet clutter just might make a teenager's prom dreams come true!