I had a substantially handicapped aunt who worked for Goodwill most of her adult life so I have always made them my first choice for in-kind donations. However, I found the allegations against their current business model disturbing so I began looking for the truth as it relates to Seattle Goodwill Industries.
The comments here suggest it's quite a scam, but where are you getting your figures? A look at their 990 published at ProPublica--
shows exec compensation as $1,463,356 or 2.1% of their total expenses, less than half what the previous reviewer claimed. That is not unreasonable and the numbers otherwise look good for an organization that does not rely on volunteer labor.
True, their mission has changed from the "sheltered workshop" of my aunt's day and malfunctioning merchandise is not fixed and frequently passes onto the sales floor (I am a consumer as well as a donor) and their clients are now able individuals learning job skills. Many are immigrants and some seem to be native born folks with limited inter-personal skills, as well as individuals attempting to build up recommendations and trust after a stint in lock-up.
I see good outcomes here for the target clients, and there are more and better facilities for workers with the physical and mental handicaps suffered by my aunt.
However, this is certainly a case in which "milage may vary." I am looking specifically at Seattle Goodwill and I would certainly look at the ProPublica listings for other metropolitan areas before I made them a charity of choice.
Review from Guidestar
Ok, so the Goodwill is declining rapidly and it is our fault! When Goodwill first originated over 90 years ago, the motives were purely charitable. Unfortunately, the corporate structure has caused the Goodwill's priority to be about money, not "changing lives."
Why won't the CEO respect the people who are responsible for his $300,000 annual paycheck..Isn't there a homeless problem in Seattle right now? The other 9 top employees brings the total salaries of these top 10 to just under 2 million dollars. This company which is now taking all the public's donations and hoarding anything of value to sell online, or in their retail stores, took in $100 MILLION dollars last year, thanks to the generous community. Please remember SGI is considered a "non-profit" which reduces their tax requirements. They only spent just over ONE million dollars to provide for the practical needs of their job training folks for bus passes, housing needs, etc. After 91 years in business, why do they have a $28 million mortgage? So taxpayers are not only footing the bill for these astronomical salaries, but paying for their new building as well?
The job training program used to consist of employees working in the retail stores for a predetermined amount of time so they could gain enough experience to move on and therefore open up another position for a new job training graduate. When the corporate people took over, employees are now recruited off of Craigslist and stay for years, which restricts the amount of people who could be receiving the alleged job training which allows SGI to have their tax exemptions.
Guidestar.org provides SGI financial statements and to leave a review. Better Business Bureau is also a place which needs truthful reviews about this abuse of non profit status.
As you will see, one of the main reasons SGI has a non profit status is because of their "on the job training" at their stores. Yet, why do SGI Glassdoor employee reviews complain they are not trained? These employees who work behind the scenes are working in conditions much like sweatshops in other countries. They are dripping with sweat and are forced to wear long pants and construction vests. Isn't that why the taxpayers are paying the SGI executives mortgage and HUGE salaries, so they can provide on the job training? How are these workers supposed to learn anything when they are so lightheaded and sick from the heat related injuries that the CEO refuses to correct?
As recent as a few years ago, families who had disabilities or other challenges, were able to provide for their families by purchasing items at this store and reselling them. As SGI became more and more revenue focused and less and less NON profit focused, all the public donations of ANY value, are now removed by SGI so they can support THEMSELVES and their lifestyles! This outlet store used to take donations directly from donors, but now the donations have to be combed through by hired employees who remove anything of value So what is now left here is, clothes with stains, rips, shoes missing heels or not even a pair and smelly cat urine or moth ball laden items. Really? This is how the people who are responsible for sustaining 98 percent of this company are being treated? Why are we bending over for this?
After attempting to reason with Mr. Campbell, I'm convinced the only way to reverse this situation where the power has shifted from the public to the executives, is to boycott donations. It's simple, don't give to SBI until they become receptive enough to stop the GREED based operations and invest back into the community.
All of SGI stores used to beg for even more money when a customer made a purchase they were asked to "round up" to the nearest dollar for their "job programs." After my email to Mr. Campbell and his inability to explain where all that extra cash went, the begging stopped. We know it didn't go to help the people who don't have jobs due to lack of transportation or housing issues because that amount was only ONE million out of the 100 million dollar revenue they brought in last year. If SGI has been able to hoard 100 million dollars without supporting the government, while the public who supports them is having to pay the taxes to provide for the many families who were put out of business due to SGI's removal of ALL valuable donations for their own profit, why are we just sitting by allowing this to happen right under our noses?
Unfortunately, the SGI has become so GREEDY they are no longer capable of seeing it due to the dollar signs blocking their vision. If they don't receive donations, they can't scam anymore of the public into believing that our contributions are actually HELPING the community. I don't know about you, I will no longer donate to this facade of a charity who refuses to address the concerns of those responsible for their paychecks!
Review from Guidestar
Just thought I would pass along this article from MSN money. The lady who moderates the blog, lives in Seattle. http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending/archive/2009/03/24/are-thrift-stores-now-overpriced.aspx?PageIndex=3 You REALLY need to examine the comments section - I thought I would validate this comment by saying....as a former employee of Seattle Goodwill this comment is very insightful and completely accurate! Seattle Goodwill abuses its salaried staff by making them work 60 to 80 hours a week - pays the people who price merchandise minim wage while expecting them to 'produce' (price & stock) outrageous amounts of donations which are calculated down to the SECOND!!!!! All of this while retaliating against individuals who have workplace injuries or take FMLA time off to care for their families. Someone should really look into how much this "Non-Profit" is paying out in settlements to keep people quiet.
Greetings again, Just thought I would pass along this article from MSN money. The lady who moderates the blog, lives in Seattle. http://blogs.moneycentral.msn.com/smartspending/archive/2009/03/24/are-thrift-stores-now-overpriced.aspx?PageIndex=3 You REALLY need to examine the comments section and see just how right I am in accusing Goodwill of being overpriced, greedy and taking advantage of people by acting like a for profit store. Again, my complaints about your "like a for profit" "non thrift store... 1. Your prices have increased by at least 30% in the past 2 years and low and behold, so have your sales....how is that "non profit"...myself, a regular middle class person cannot afford to shop at your store (or refuse to) because it is usually cheaper to buy on sale new, how can lower or fixed income people, the elderly or single mothers afford to get by with your prices ? I hear other customers comment on your prices too. 2. If I am reading your tax return filings correctly, Goodwill (Seattle) only spends about 8% on the "free jobs and education" programs, the rest of the spending goes towards corporate pockets, the overhead of running the "non thrift stores" and other operating costs. That is a hell of alot of energy just to spend 8% on the programs the mission statement ! 3. Corporate pay !! For a non profit ?? If I remember right, the CEO of Goodwill Portland got his hands slapped a few years back ? 4. The "skills" you teach the people you hire are at best, a joke. What I see from first hand observing your employees is...teaching them to be afraid of their supervisors, teaching them to be afraid to make a common sense decision on their own, forgoing teaching them how to deal or treat a customer successfully (not the automatic response I usually get...I am just doing what they told me to do), teaching them that being rude to customers and other employees is OK, failing to adequately train employees how to price fairly (why price something that sells new for $9.99 and on sale for $7.99 at $4.99 when is obviously used), although I think I know the answer to the latter (see complaint #1 and #2)....time and time again, I see these things happen in YOUR stores. What exactly ARE you doing to enrich these peoples lives ? Giving them a minimum wage, nowhere job ? Training them to be inflexible, rude and ignorant ? 5. The "glitter" 50% of some of your stores are laughable at best....more like a fizzle or our current presidents approval ratings.....falling. Again, Goodwill has not taken the time, nor the effort to properly train your employees in charge of pricing anything about brands and what they sell for new and on sale...ie., Forever 21 IS NOT....I repeat, IS NOT an expensive, collectible, designer or comes even close to being an item that "glitters"....and to fill 25-50% of a store with this high priced, overproduced, made in a sweatshop garbage ??? You are a "non thrift" store trying to act like a boutique or Nordstroms (yes, there is a difference between the two)....if you are going to be using that thought process and those practices, great ! However, you will, first off, need to act like a boutique...ie., not jamming racks so full to the point where I wrench my back trying to look through them, having employees with at least an ounce of sophistication and/or class, stop stocking your shelves with broken, damaged, second rate, made in China, SWILL. Lastly, but of utmost importance, Goodwill Industries will need to have your 501(c)3 nonprofit classification yanked ! Anyways, I do hope you find the article of some use or at the very least, to remind you that "Goodwill's (and other non thrift stores of the like) little secret" is still alive and catching on, slowly, but surely. Sincerely yours, Thrifty2009