Where to donate unwanted alcohol in the UK

Did you receive a bottle of wine as a gift at Christmas? Perhaps you’re taking part in Dry January and are trying to stay clear of temptation. Whatever the reason, you might be wondering what to do with your unwanted alcohol. Throwing it away or pouring it down the sink seems wasteful so the best option could be to donate it – but where can you donate your unwanted alcohol in the UK and what factors should you take into consideration?

Where to donate your unwanted alcohol

Whilst you can’t donate unwanted alcohol to charity shops due to licencing laws, you can still donate it to certain charities to sell or use as a raffle or tombola prize as part of a fundraiser, both of which are a popular and effective way for charities to raise money and awareness. It also means the alcohol isn’t going to waste and is being put towards a worthy cause.

Things to consider when donating alcohol to charity

It’s worth noting that not all charities will accept alcohol as part of their fundraising activities, so before you approach a charity, here are some general guidelines to consider:

  1. Make sure the alcohol is unused, unopened and still within the expiry date and condition of your alcohol.
  2. Contact the charity before you donate. Ensure that they will accept alcohol donations and, if so, what kind of alcohol they would prefer to receive. Some charities might have specific preferences for their raffles, such as certain brands or types.
  3. When donating alcohol for a raffle, consider who might be taking part. For instance, if it is a school event, children are likely to be present and therefore alcoholic drinks are generally not a suitable or inclusive prize.

Can you donate alcohol to foodbanks?

The short answer to this is no. Foodbanks will not accept donations of alcohol as their role is to provide essential food and non-food items to families in need. Some users may also be recovering alcoholics and receiving alcohol from a foodbank could jeopardise their recovery or put them in harm’s way.

Where to donate alcohol near me?

If you live in Dorset and want to donate unwanted alcohol to a local charity in the area, we’ve included a few options below. Please note this is only a small sample, so if your preferred charity is not on our list, that doesn't necessarily mean it won’t accept alcohol donations.

Diverse Abilities: This local charity supporting children and adults with disabilities has launched a campaign for any unwanted Christmas presents – including unopened alcohol - to be repurposed as raffle and auction lots throughout its fundraising events in 2024. Contact the charity on 01202 718266.

Julia’s House: Children’s hospice charity covering Dorset and Wiltshire providing palliative care and support for children with life-limiting conditions and their families. They run regular raffles and auctions to raise funds for their services, and are happy to accept unwanted, unopened bottles of alcohol to use in raffles and hampers at fundraising events. You can contact the charity on 01202 644220.

Dorset Mind: Supporting people across the county with mental health problems, Dorset Mind runs raffles and events to raise funds and awareness for their cause. To contact the Mind team, simply complete their short online form.  

Trying to quit drinking?

If you live in Dorset and are trying to give up or drink less alcohol, LiveWell Dorset is here to help. Register or talk to our friendly team today to find out how we can support you on your journey to a healthier, happier life without booze. As a starting point you can also take our Rethink your Drink quiz to take a closer look at your relationship with alcohol.

If you have serious concerns about your own or someone else’s drinking, call the free national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).

Further reading

How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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