My two cents on shopping at and donating to Goodwill
For the past couple of years, I have seen people post memes online telling others to avoid donating to or shopping at Goodwill. Why? Because their CEO makes a great salary. Personally, I find this a bit perplexing and it's made me think quite a bit about the issue. Here's the conclusion that I've come to when it comes to shopping at and donating to Goodwill.
First of all, what's wrong with the CEO making a great salary? I'm perfectly fine with it, even it were in the millions. The organization reports that they bring in $5 billion in revenue per year. That is a very successful organization! Do you realize the type of skill, ingenuity, and marketing know-how that it takes for any entity to have $5 billion in revenue every year? You can only reach that level of success by having talented people in the top positions who know what they are doing. The attitude that those who run not-for-profits should live a life of poverty or receive low wages is flat out wrong and it keeps talented, smart, and passionate people away. There's a great Ted Talk on this topic by Dan Pallotta here that I listened to a while back and agree with. Considering the organization has a $5 billion revenue per year, I don't think it's out of line that the CEO has such a great salary. The reason we all know Goodwill's name is because the CEO is doing something right. Plus, the meme you see online is not accurate. Not only does it not list their current CEO, but the salary listed is incorrect, according to snopes.
Second, many people like to say that the money they take in helps nobody. This blows me away! It must be people saying this who have never shopped at Goodwill. As someone who has shopped there regularly for years, I can assure you that they are helping many people. They employ a lot of people, they also provide job skills training to a lot of people. They employ over 100,000 people around the country. That's a lot of jobs! Over 7,000 of those employed are considered to have disabilities and some say that the company is "exploiting" them. I disagree. I think Goodwill is providing opportunity and those with the positions are likely happy to have them.
Finally, jobs and work skills training aside, Goodwill does other great things. They are wonderful for the environment and the individual shopper. I routinely find great clothing there for a fraction of what it would cost me to purchase new. Recently, I found a $60 running skirt there for $4. Last year, I found a new Columbia jacket for $4. That's helping me! It keeps more money in my pocket and makes it easier for me to afford something that I was otherwise not willing to purchase because of the high cost of buying it new. Every time I shop and I'm able to purchase items for a fraction of what they cost new the company is helping me and my family. They are helping everyone in the community to have access to lower cost goods. Argue all you want that they are expensive, but you won't convince me that paying $2-4 per shirt is expensive. Their stores save my family money, as well as all the other families that shop there (and every time I go they are busy).
By offering all the used clothing they are helping the environment and keeping these items out of landfills. Many people don't know what to do with the bag of stuff they pull out of their closet that they are done with. This way, it gets reused, which is better for the planet. Another way that Goodwill helps the environment is that the clothes that are not sold in their stores get recycled. When they don't sell at their individual stores, they then go to their outlet stores (which I love to shop at because you pay around 30 cents per shirt), and what doesn't get sold there is then sold off to salvage brokers and for recycling purposes.
You can travel the country and come across Goodwill stores in many cities. Every time I see one I am familiar with the brand and have an idea of what it's going to be like. I know there's a good chance I will find some deals, I know they are employing a lot of people, providing job skills to many people, and helping the planet, as well as my own pocketbook. The least of my concern is how much money their CEO is making. I donate to Goodwill regularly, and shop there often, and have no plans of stopping. Everyone has the right to donate to and shop at the thrift stores of their choice, but don't just read one incorrect meme telling you to avoid Goodwill and fall for it, assuming that because their CEO makes a great salary that they don't do anything good, because that's simply not true.