Know Where Your Donations Go: Non-Profits vs. For-Profits
Clothing and shoes donation boxes have made a resurgence in our area over the last couple of years. These bins – in a multitude of colors – are designed to make it easy for people to donate items that you no longer need, wear, or have replaced with a new item in your wardrobe.
Did you know that a majority of these bins have been placed by out-of-state and overseas for-profit companies, and the community is receiving no benefit for these donations?
“For-profit clothing recyclers like USAgain, Operation Green and others are collecting these donations locally and selling them either on the salvage market or to overseas clothing buyers for re-sale in third world countries. It’s become a billion dollar industry, with virtually no dollars or employment returning to the community from which those goods were collected," explains Doug Schacht, Leader of Donations for Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin.
One drop box holds approximately 500 pounds of goods providing approximately $200 worth of weekly income per box to that for-profit operator. To a non-profit organization, like Goodwill NCW, those same donations would be worth nearly $500 each week!
Some for-profit thrift stores sometimes arrange to use a charity’s name to collect donations in exchange for a flat fee or a percentage of the revenue. Often this deal is not generally publicized, and the percentage that charity actually makes may be less than 5 cents for every dollar spent.
In other cases, businesses that sponsor for-profit boxes are paid “rent” by that for-profit operator. This rent typically is pennies on the dollar to the actual value of the goods collected.
At Goodwill NCW, more than 81 cents of every dollar is reinvested into programs, services and job training for individuals with barriers to traditional employment and people with limited work history. Goodwill’s services are designed not only to help people improve their lives, but also support our communities.
“In 2011, Goodwill NCW served 48,226 people through 27 different programs and services designed to serve individuals and families,” says Schacht. “When people donate to Goodwill and shop in our stores were are able to use that income to support needs that could otherwise go unmet within our local community.”
Remember, charitable donations are tax deductible (if you itemize). If the organization doesn't offer a tax receipt, it's a tell-tale sign that they are a for-profit entity.
All of Goodwill NCW's bins are maroon-and-navy, featuring Goodwill's "Smiling G" logo.
Goodwill NCW offers numerous donation drop-off locations, including all our stores as well as attended and unattended Donation Express sites.