My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina, Inc., Durham, NC, USA
This particular chapter of Goodwill claims that its mission is to provide people of eastern North Carolina with the dignity of a job with a living wage, with particular emphasis on those people who are disabled. However, in truth this organization is more interested in profits to expand their footprint and actively engages in practices that not only do a disservice to the idea of Goodwill, but also to a respectable company. To sum it up briefly, their claim that .89 of every dollar goes to program initiatives includes all operating expenses for their retail locations, including the inflated wages of its president and vice-president (husband and wife, incidentally), who, despite making over $700,000 combined every year, still file for a 'religious' housing allowance on their tax return, as Mr. McClain is an ordained Methodist minister. Meanwhile on the operational store level, employees are daily faced with situations that should require charity, yet are instructed by our superiors that 'our prices are low enough so that people in extreme circumstances can still afford our products.' For instance, in my time with them I had the unfortunate position of informing a family whose house had recently burned down that we could do nothing for them (they had been issued a vouchers which i couldn't accept, according to my district manager; I was told to send them to the Salvation Army or to have them come back when they had money).
While they operate a website call gcflearnfree.org which provides people with basic interactive lessons on everything from computers to math, I truly doubt it costs millions to keep it operational. Keep in mind that donations are big business--in 2008, their projected goals for the company exceeded $25 million, all from product that was either donated outright or purchased for a pittance (as in old/broken Target merchandise). A glance at their Form 990 on their website will reveal that even some of their district managers crack six figures, a big reason why nobody speaks to the elephant sitting in the room--that being, for a 'NON-profit' that exists solely on the generosity of others, why is it run with such a bloodlust for profit. If the corporate structure gets handsomely paid, then why address the fact that such profits aren't equally distributed to the lowest rungs, to the people that actually earn and need it?
Despite their mission statement of providing people with the dignity of a job, they regularly instill in their employees a sense of fear and dread, where in the day-to-day setting, they fear being terminated for some minor, unknown offense (official corporate policy is to terminate the employees without furnishing a reason, in accordance with North Carolina's at-will labor laws). I've known perfectly good workers who have been with them for years (one for 5+ years) summarily dismissed without explanation or cause. Even as a manager, I was subjected to the same treatment; when I called the corporate office for clarity/closure, I received only silence. I left repeated voicemails to no avail, and then discovered when I called my old store that the employees there were instructed not to speak to me, for fear of their jobs. Keep in mind that Goodwill employs people who might not be in the best life circumstances (though most are not disabled as they would claim) and pays them $10 an hour for retail work, perhaps more than they can get elsewhere, and you can understand how employees can be intimidated and mistreated. I had originally hoped to make a career out of this position, to work in the services of those less fortunate; however, once employed, I discovered that basically this company exists to prey on the poor and reap the benefits of 'non-profit' status and name recognition.
In closing, based on my experiences, I will NEVER recommend ANY Goodwill to anyone ever again, and I would offer that for anyone considering a donation to them, do your due diligence in researching and confirming what I've related. Their IRS Form 990 is posted on their website, though I suspect people overlook it (and that Goodwill hopes/expects that).