What Happens to Your Donations

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We are often asked, “What do you do with all that stuff!?” – of course, referring to the volumes of gently used items given to Goodwill by hundreds of thousands of generous donors every year. Goodwill has been and will always be good stewards of your very valuable and appreciated donations. In 2014, Goodwill resold, reused or recycled more than 21,000 tons of donations. We’re excited to share with you all the wonderful things that Goodwill does with your sweaters, shoes, couches and coffee mugs!

Q. What Happens to My Donation?

Q. What’s in Goodwill’s Trash?

Q. Where Does the Money Go?

Q. What Happens to My Donation?

When you donate clothes, dishes, shoes, electronics, or any other item to Goodwill, those items go through a process to ensure that we maximize their value – squeezing every bit of revenue from them to fund our mission – helping people find jobs!

First, we sort items to determine if they are sellable at our Retail Stores. Sixty percent of donations make it to our store shelves, where they are sold to shoppers looking for quality items at affordable prices. When an item doesn’t sell in the stores, we try to sell it a second time in our Outlet Store at a significant discount.

For those items that just don’t sell, they are put into our salvage stream where they are either sold to textile and other recyclers. For those donations that do not meet our quality standards, they too, end up in our salvage stream. If the item cannot be salvaged, it might be recycled in some other way. For example, if Goodwill has extra dishes or glassware, it “trades” another nonprofit organization in the community for that organization’s extra clothing or household items. Unfortunately some items must be disposed of. Through this process of reselling goods and recycling, Goodwill organizations across the country have diverted billions of used clothes and other goods from landfills. Plus, nationally, Goodwill has earned hundreds of millions of dollars by selling to salvage vendors – dollars that help people find jobs to our community.

Q. What’s in Goodwill’s Trash?

Goodwill is fortunate to have such generous donors! You should know that goods that are soiled, broken, torn or recalled sometimes end up in the trash if we can’t find a way to salvage or recycle them. We do our best to keep “good stuff” out of landfills.

Before giving your gently used items to us, ask yourself if you would give it to a relative or a friend. Our shoppers are looking for quality second-hand goods, and disposing of items we can’t sell costs a lot of money. Every dollar we spend disposing of unusable donations is a dollar we cannot spend on our services to the community.

Think, too, about the safety of our shoppers. Don’t give us an item that’s been recalled or deemed unsafe. By not giving us these products, you help us ensure that never make it to our store shelves. Our first concern is the safety of our customers and donors, and we do everything we can to protect them. Each day, we carefully sort through all the donated items and identify products that have been recalled by the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).

Q. Where Does the Money Go?

For every $1.00 that is spent in a Goodwill Store, 87 cents goes back into our community, helping people find jobs. In 2014, this amount of money helped serve nearly 9,400 individuals in our community. This is Goodwill’s true mission, and our Retail Stores are just one way we fund it. We try our best to communicate this message at our stores and donation centers, but it’s true that many people don’t know about the mission behind the storefront.

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