Goodwill Industries

Goodwill Industries
Goodwill Industries Logo.svg
Founder(s) Edgar Helms
Founded 1902
Location Rockville, Maryland, United States
Key people President and CEO Jim Gibbons
Area served Global
Focus charity
Goodwill Industries thrift store Canton, Michigan

Goodwill Industries International is a not-for-profit organization that provides job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have a disability, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges. Goodwill is funded by a massive network of retail thrift stores which operate as nonprofits as well.

Goodwill operates as a network of 179 independent, community-based organizations in the U.S., Canada and 14 other countries. In 2010, Goodwills collectively earned more than $4 billion, and used 84 percent of that revenue to provide employment, training and support services to more than 2.4 million individuals.[1][2]

Goodwill's logo is a stylized letter "g" that resembles a smiling face. It was designed by Joseph Selame in 1968[3] .



In 1999, over 84 million pounds of food were donated to the stores in Portland, Oregon, part of the Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Williamette (GICW). Around the same year, Goodwill launched the first and only nonprofit internet auction site in the United States. By 2004, Goodwill Industries International had a network of 207 member organizations in the United States, Canada, and 23 other countries.[4] As of July 2011, there are 165 full Goodwill members in the United States and Canada. These are each independent social enterprises that operate their own regional Goodwill retail stores and job training programs. For an example, see Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, Boston, the enterprise operated in Boston, where Goodwill was founded.[5]

The clothing and household goods donated to Goodwill are sold in more than 2,600 Goodwill retail stores[1] and on its Internet auction site,[6] Most of the items on are items that are considered most valuable. Each regional store will ship out what they deem valuable, so that the items will be purchased for what they are worth. Antiques, collectibles, jewelry, comic books, furniture, and even automobiles are some of the items found on this website. The revenues fund job training and other services to prepare people for job success. In 2010, through their involvement in Goodwill's programs, more than 170,000 people were placed into employment. They earned $2.7 billion in salaries and wages, and as tax-paying citizens, they contributed to the community.[7] Goodwill also generates income in order to help businesses and the federal government fill gaps caused by labor shortages, time constraints and limited space or equipment. Local Goodwill branches train and employ contract workers to fill outsourced needs for document management, assembly, mailing, custodial work, grounds keeping and more. Goodwill claims that more than 84 percent of its total revenue is used to fund education and career services and other critical community programs.[1] In 2010, Goodwill has provided people with training careers in industries such as banking, IT and health care as well as offering English-language training, education, transportation, and child care services.[7]

When merchandise cannot be sold at a normal Goodwill store, it is taken to a 'Goodwill Outlet' or 'As-Is.' Items are mostly sold by weight, with prices ranging from $0.49 to $1.69 per pound, depending on the location. The wide selection and massive discounts on a variety of household goods typically attract a fervent following of regular customers, some of whom make a full-time living buying and re-selling goods. There are also many vendors who buy this merchandise in bulk, and they send the merchandise to third world countries.



Morgan's mission was started originally as an urban outreach ministry, in 1902, of Morgan Methodist Chapel, Boston, Massachusetts, which was pastored by Reverend Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms and his congregation collected used household goods and clothing being discarded in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired the unemployed or bereft to mend and repair them. The products were then redistributed to those in need or were given to the needy people who helped to repair them. In 1915, Helms hosted a visit to Morgan Memorial by representatives of a workshop mission in Brooklyn, NY, and they learned about the innovative programs and the operating techniques of the "Morgan Memorial Cooperative Industries and Stores, Inc." Helms was subsequently invited to visit in New York. Out of these exchanges came Brooklyn's willingness to adopt and adapt the Morgan Memorial way of doing things, while Helms was persuaded that Brooklyn's name for its workshop, "Goodwill Industries," was a marked improvement over the Morgan Memorial name. Thus was officially born Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, and that, plus Brooklyn's interest and ties, became the foundation on which Goodwill Industries was to be built as an international movement. (From For the Love of People, by John Fulton Lewis.)

Today Goodwill has become a $3.25 billion not-for-profit organization.[1] Helms described Goodwill as an "industrial program as well as a social service enterprise...a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted."

Donation policies

Goodwill donation bin at a Safeway store

Goodwill has various policies on donations, including items that they can and cannot accept. Broadly speaking, Goodwill will accept items that they can re-sell, either in the retail stores or as bulk lots.

Goodwill generally will not accept donations of auto parts, furniture showing signs of damage, large appliances such as stoves, refrigerators, washers/dryers, or exercise equipment. Most stores also cannot accept hazardous materials like paint, medications, or building materials such as doors, wood, nails, etc. For liability reasons, Goodwill generally will not accept baby cribs or car seats. Some branches do not accept computers, which may contain sensitive data,[8] and also have a high incidence of non-usability, which results in expensive disposal costs.[9] There are, however, some branches that will accept computers and televisions and recycle them if they aren't sellable, including ones that do not turn on. Sanitary regulations prohibit Goodwill from accepting mattress donations, and although some Goodwills do sell brand new mattresses most Goodwills can not. Recently, due to safety concerns (in particular, concerns over lead content in painted products), some Goodwill stores will not accept some toys, particularly those made in China.[10]

Goodwill will generally always accept donations of clothing, shoes, books, accessories (handbags, belts), dishes, pieces of furniture in good condition, household decorations, and consumer electronics (ex. alarm clocks, blenders, etc.). Even if they are deemed unfit to be sold in Goodwill's retail stores, these items can be sold as bulk lots, and thus can still generate income.

Depending on regional laws, the value of the goods donated can be used as a tax deduction. Always make sure you ask for a donation receipt when making a donation to ensure no items are forgotten on the deduction form.

21st Century Initiative

On the occasion of its 100th anniversary in 2002, Goodwill Industries launched an international workforce development initiative designed to integrate 20 million people into the workplace by the year 2020.

Known as the Goodwill Industries 21st Century Initiative, the plan includes broad strategies for getting people into good jobs that enable them to become self-sufficient. These strategies include providing job and technology training for a 21st century workforce, offering family strengthening services to support workers and their families, and developing business opportunities to employ individuals who were previously considered unemployable.[11]


In 2005, Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (GICW), Goodwill's Portland, Oregon branch, came under scrutiny due to executive compensation that the Oregon attorney general's office concluded was "unreasonable." President Michael Miller received $838,508 in pay and benefits for fiscal year 2004, which was reportedly out of line in comparison to other charity executives and placed him in the top one percent of American wage earners. After being confronted with the state's findings, Miller agreed to a 24% reduction in pay, and GICW formed a new committee and policy for handling matters of employee compensation.[12][13]

Vision Statement

In this pledge, Goodwill promises to fulfill the goals of success within each individual:

"We at Goodwill Industries will be satisfied only when every person in the global community has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential as an individual and to participate and contribute fully in all aspects of a productive life." [4]

Removing gender barriers to employment

In November, 2010, for the first time, Goodwill opened a store specifically designed to hire employees who are transgender and gender-queer in San Francisco, CA. The temporary or "Pop-up" store was a unique partnership between Goodwill of San Francisco and Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative. The Castro Pop-up store closed in April 2011, but the staff were relocated to various Goodwill stores throughout San Francisco.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d "Goodwill Industries International: Our Mission". Goodwill Industries. 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-03. 
  2. ^ Tabafunda, James (July 26, 2008). "After 85 years, Seattle Goodwill continues to improve lives". Northwest Asian Weekly. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ Heller, Steven (20 April 2011). "Joseph Selame, Designer of Corporate Logos, Dies at 86". New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ "Goodwill's History". Goodwill Industries. September 8, 2009. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  6. ^ Gladstone, Rick (May 18, 2003). "Bulletin Board; Charity in Cyberspace". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ "Donation Acceptance Guidelines: Donating Computer Equipment". Goodwill Industries. 2010. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  9. ^ Goodwill Industries International - Recycling
  10. ^ Abelson, Jenn (February 27, 2009). "Lead law puts thrift stores in lurch". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Goodwill Industries International - Goodwill's 21st Century Initiative". Retrieved 2010-06-03. 
  12. ^ Denson, Bryan; Kosseff, Jeff (December 20, 2005). "Goodwill chief agrees to pay cut". National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. The Oregonian. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Response to Oregon Department of Justice Audit Report" (PDF). Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. December 20, 2005. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  14. ^ Leff, Lisa (November 28, 2010). "Goodwill thrives at San Francisco thrift store". Yahoo! News. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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