To those boycotting Goodwill….

I wrote in my recent update that I’ve been re-purposing some skirts from Goodwill for the girls and I, and that reminded me of something that’s been bugging me, lately.  I’ve heard of a lot of people boycotting Goodwill and refusing to donate to them because of how much money the corporation makes.  I don’t want to get into a debate as to whether a corporation is entitled to make money off of a business – (in short: they absolutely are,) but what I really want to say is that I personally don’t care that the corporation managers are making large amounts of money – they are also one of the only major organizations helping families in need.

In a not-so-rare twist of irony, I find that many of the very people who complain about Goodwill have no problems whatsoever taking their clothing or kids used toys to consignment stores to sell.  So somehow it’s okay for us to make money off of our used clothes (where they’ll be sold from $5 – $25 a pop,) rather than donating them to families in need, but it’s not okay for Goodwill to make money off of the clothing they sell???  This doesn’t make sense!  (For the record, I don’t see anything wrong with either one, just the mindset that says one is okay and the other is not.)  And the churches?  In my opinion, and with very few exceptions, they’re even worse.

Let me give you an example:

Several years ago, I contacted a pastor at my (very huge, very popular) church and asked him if we could set up a goodwill type of store that would be FREE to the people who needed it.  The pastor I spoke with told me this was something that he’d been wanting to do for a while, but had been told repeatedly that there just wasn’t money “in the budget” to do it.  A few months later, my choir director told us that they would soon be installing giant screens in the back of the church so that the choir members would no longer have to hold their music!  If we want to look for examples of misallocation of funds, we really don’t have to look any further than our local churches.  The way I see it, Goodwill is meeting a need that the churches, with a very few exceptions, are not meeting… so good for them, and thank God for them, because we could not afford to pay $25 for a pair of jeans, brand new, and with seven kids even spending $5 – $10 at the consignment store (vs. $1.50 – $3.00 at Goodwill) is just insane!

But perceived hypocrisy aside, here is what I really want to say:

Goodwill is meeting a need that almost no one else is meeting – it’s a very real need and a very necessary help to a lot of families.  If Goodwill were to shut its doors tomorrow, I shudder to think of what our clothing bill would be, even if we were to shop at the very cheapest of consignment stores.  To give you a further example of this:

A friend of mine recently bought a bunch of clothes from Duck Duck Goose, a huge consignment event that happens once or twice a year and is supposed to be known for their amazing deals.  She bought roughly 25 items for her 3 year old son for about $70 and was crazy excited about it.  I was happy for her, too.  But here’s the thing… for roughly $40, I could have bought the same number of items at Goodwill.  Now multiply that by seven (soon to be eight.)  That’s $560 vs. $320.  When you have a very tight budget (and kids who play hard and need new clothes often!) that’s HUGE! 

So please… to all of you who are angry that the Goodwill corporation makes a lot of money… I understand – I really do – and I have a suggestion for you:

When every church has a clothing distribution center in its basement, THEN let’s boycott Goodwill.  When every family is sending all of their gently used clothes and toys to those in need, organizing free-for-the-taking yard sales, or opening free consignment stores of their own, THEN let’s boycott Goodwill.  But for the sake of families like ours, until the Churches and members of our society are willing to take up the slack and do something better, please don’t stop donating!

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A commenter on facebook brought up a great point… there are other (if not many!) places that are doing the same type of work that Goodwill is doing and may not raise the same ethical questions that Goodwill does.  Personally, I appreciate Goodwill because of its large size and widespread distribution, but if more people donated to these organizations, they would certainly get larger!

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9 Responses to To those boycotting Goodwill….

  1. Pingback: Quick Takes – Sept 10, 2014 | Rina Marie

  2. Jessica says:

    Does it bother you that they pay many of their disabled employees as little as $0.22 an hour? Sorry but I can’t support that.

    • Rina says:

      Jessica, here is an article that addresses your concern better than I can: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-norman/ill-will-for-goodwill_b_4213830.html

      From the article:

      “if Goodwill’s motivation is to make money off the backs of disabled but reasonably productive employees, it’s committing a moral offense. But if its motivation is to give people who aren’t capable of normal productivity a sense of belonging (and maybe even train them to become employable), it should be praised rather than condemned. Goodwill’s accusers claim the organization is relying on cheap labor to generate revenue for the organization, but they offer no information about any net gain Goodwill might be deriving from its “exploitation” of disabled workers. Without such details, there’s no apparent reason to conclude the arrangement is lopsided in Goodwill’s favor.

      Generally, nobody seems to think anything is wrong with doing volunteer work for a nonprofit. Would it satisfy critics, then, if Goodwill were to pay nothing rather than a small stipend? For Goodwill to give relatively unproductive people the same amount it gives (or could give) to more productive people, would not necessarily be a bad thing. But why is it expected?”…

  3. Stacy Gunn says:

    Sounds like you just shop there and you’ve never needed them for something which is good bc you would t get it from them! They paid my son .72 cents an hour!!!!!! The same son that had a spinal cord injury 3 yrs ago and they wouldn’t even donate a pack of briefs for him they only had 29 given to them free!!!

    • Rina says:

      Hi, Stacy, thank you for your comment. The day I wrote this post, I’d just gotten home from goodwill (where we buy all of our clothing for our family of ten [and yes, we definitely NEED them for that!]) and while there, I’d met a woman who told me she would NEVER donate to goodwill… she was just there to purchase a few items that she could resell to a baby consignment store.

      It is from this place that I write. The place that tells us that taking care of those in need isn’t as important as making sure choir members don’t have to hold books in their hands. The place that finds it acceptable to sell used things to consignment stores while never bothering to find an avenue to donate. The place that finds it acceptable to make PURCHASES from goodwill, while refusing to support them with donations and yet using the donations made by others – given away freely to support those in NEED – to make a profit.

      If you feel led to boycott Goodwill, by all means do so. But please don’t let that be your only contribution to those in need. From what you write, I’m sure that you won’t.

  4. Dave says:

    Well . . . I’m not particularly inspired to DONATE to a “charitable” organization where the CEO makes over 620K a year. Salvation Army reports a substantially less exorbitant CEO pay at 251K. Some of the Goodwill regional directors also make large salaries.

    http://www.forbes.com/companies/salvation-army/
    http://www.forbes.com/companies/goodwill-industries-international/

    I really want to DONATE my stuff to a place that will pay its employees a decent wage and not use lobbyists to fight closing loopholes that allow disabled workers to be paid less than a dollar an hour.

  5. Anonymous says:

    yeah sorry rina you’re just wrong on this one

  6. David Housings says:

    I hope it’s not too late to make a comment here. The new CEO has now sold a well-established major intake facility for Goodwill without consultation or openness and has arranged for a brand new, $5.5-MILLION dollar new facillity to be built, which will (of course!) include a brand new office for himself, PLUS he demanded (and will get) a 36% RAISE. When he took the position, he knew the salary, and that Goodwill is (supposedly) a charitable organization. Now, he’s put Goodwill into substantial debt without going through channels. While Rina may believe that upscale wages for management is just fine and dandy, that is NOT why I donate to, or purchase from, Goodwill. It’s to help people, and not to pay them below-standard wages with some puny excuse that it’s on-the-job-training to help them to a better place in society!

    I would rather donate to an outright for-profit thrift store, than for one that is run by questionable people, such as this current CEO. There is also Salvation Army and, in our area, Gray Bears, both of which are very open about their finances, with Gray Bears being the better of those two.

    Goodwill has strayed from the path on which it was built. It should change its name, change its motto, and be open about the fact that they are a for-profit organization.

    • Rina says:

      I agree, David, if there are other charitable organizations in your area that you can donate to who line up more with your beliefs, then you should definitely donate to them (which was part of what I was calling for in the article – If you don’t believe in donating to Goodwill then FIND another way to help. For me, Goodwill DOES help my family and there aren’t many other options in my area. Also, lets not be hypocritical about it. If we’re willing to sell our own clothes, rather than donate them (as many are) then lets not criticize the CEO of the only large-scale organization like this for doing a good job and earning himself a raise. I don’t understand why we have such hatred of the wealthy in our country. Whoever the CEO of Goodwill is, he’s enabling me to save vast amounts of money clothing my children and for that I’m incredibly grateful. If, in return, he’s able to earn vast amounts of money for his own family then I’m happy to see him do so.

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