Took a bag of clothes and a lamp to Goodwill, which made me think about Goodwill itself.
Goodwill Industries is an icon. When people think about giving something away to charity, Goodwill is it.
A couple years ago, a neighbor made an off-handed comment about how he won’t take anything to Goodwill anymore because he had heard that the CEO of Goodwill, Jim Gibbons, makes over $300,000 per year. I gave my neighbor’s words credence because that just sounded, well, wrong.
But today, as I dropped off a lamp the at Goodwill near my office, I wondered if it mattered? Would the lamp be better off given to a small charity, like the Tigard Good Neighbor Center?
That is not an easy question to answer. Some conflicting thoughts.
- Goodwill donations may be processed by an employee who has a criminal record, as Goodwill does hire and give job assistance to disadvantaged people, including those with a record.
- If the lamp is bought by a person who is not needy, it is not necessarily being misused. Goodwill often gives vouchers to trainees & employees.
- Even though Goodwill is a non-profit, it is run as a business. Any money received for my lamp will help to sustain the business first.
- It is easier to feel good about donations to a charity where the recipients are known to be disadvantaged.
- Goodwill is massive, serving needs in rural communities where a small non-profit may not have the resources to handle and distribute aid. In my hometown of 7,000 people, we had a Goodwill drop box.
- The IRS requires non-profit compensation to be reasonable.
- To attract talent, any business has to pay it’s leaders reasonable wages. Ask Ben and Jerry’s, a socially conscious employer, which ended it’s famous 7:1 pay ratio a few years ago.
- Anonymous donation is as much about reuse as it is about altruism.
My donation will probably get reused at either place. Someone who values it will get it even if my lamp contributes to the salary of Goodwill’s CEO.
Goodwill fills a need at a large scale. The Good Neighbor Center fills a need at a small scale. Both charities fill a need.
In the end, I don’t think it matters if Jim Gibbons, the CEO of Goodwill earns over $300,000.
I’m just glad the lamp is not in the landfill.