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Goodwill warns fake donation bin scam is feeding 'billion-dollar for-profit industry'

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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:00 PM
Original message
Goodwill warns fake donation bin scam is feeding 'billion-dollar for-profit industry'
http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2...

Goodwill warns fake donation bin scam is feeding 'billion-dollar for-profit industry'
Published: Saturday, October 16, 2010, 5:45 AM Updated: Saturday, October 16, 2010, 9:05 AM
Julia Bauer | The Grand Rapids Press


GRAND RAPIDS -- Those big bins for clothing donations that dot the corners of parking lots and gas stations are not always what they seem.
What look like charitable collection boxes really can be a fraud, funneling donated items to for-profit companies.

And Goodwill Industries is on a mission to stop their misuse.

"Instead of supporting a charitable purpose, those donating old clothes may find themselves supporting a billion-dollar for-profit industry," an analysis by the Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth determined recently.

The hurt is on mainstream charities that rely on such donations. Used clothing and housewares underwrite their outreach programs, including job training for people burdened by employment barriers such as a criminal record, disability and other issues.

"The market impact here is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Randy Slikkers, executive director of Michigan's Goodwill Industries. The fraud is a moving target, as boxes appear and disappear in cities around the state.

"Flint had the highest concentration," Slikkers said. "It does tend to ebb and flow. It most recently was in the Kalamazoo market, then for the past three or four months, in Lansing."

In Flint, 56 boxes were found to belong to for-profit outfits. That means 1 million pounds of donated clothes were diverted from Flint-area charities. Similar ruses are diluting donations around the state.

"It's completely fraudulent," Slikkers said. "One year's work by one outfit brought in about $58 million. Only 6 percent went to a charitable organization, and the other 94 percent went to line their pockets."

more...
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ejpoeta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:02 PM
Response to Original message
1. that makes me ill. i haven't dropped anything off at one of those bins
but take it directly to the places i am donating it to. and i LOVE going to good will! got the bulk of my two school aged girls stuff there and then filled it out with a couple new outfits and new shoes, socks and underwear. for $100 they get a lot of clothes.
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RKP5637 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:14 PM
Response to Reply #1
6. Yep, same here, I take stuff directly to the place. I get stuff there for myself, very
good prices, far better than the junk in some stores, and it's also helping someone.
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SoCalDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. I donate to our local Foster Family Organization
Edited on Sat Oct-16-10 12:25 PM by SoCalDem
They run a thrift shop and sell some of it and donate most to the families who foster kids :)

I also donate to an organization for battered women. Many times these women flee with nothing but the clothes on their backs & they have a local "shop" in Hemet, where the women can "shop" for free, and others can buy stuff :)

Other times, I just ask friends if they know someone who wants whatever I am getting rid of :)..people don't turn down free stuff :)..
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notadmblnd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. I will not buy used underwear
or shoes. It's just too icky to think about, walking around in someone else's foot juices or cruddy underpants- just nasty.
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RKP5637 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 02:05 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. Me neither. Shirts and stuff are pretty good. n/t
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ejpoeta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 04:10 PM
Response to Reply #10
19. oh i don't buy used underwear or socks either. shoes used only if i know
where they are coming from like my sister or baby shoes.
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #10
20. I've never seen used underwear or socks, or at least, not in the last decade.
I'm pretty sure those go straight into the dumpster. However, I have seen unsold clearance socks and underwear, with store tags still on them, at thrift stores. But clearly, nobody wore them yet.
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lonestarnot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:04 PM
Response to Original message
2. Fucking dirty bastards!
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KingFlorez Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:10 PM
Response to Original message
3. One of those bins popped up in my area not to long ago
And next to a bank of all places.
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tammywammy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:11 PM
Response to Original message
4. I always drop off donations at the charity
I've seen those boxes, but never used them. They don't really indicate where the donations are going, I prefer my local charity that way I know they're going to help someone in my community.
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:13 PM
Response to Original message
5. Almost as scandalous as the scam currently being run by Goodwill
Where else can you pay 150% of full original retail for shit that you didn't want in the first place?

Other people's experience with Goodwill may differ from mine, but every store I've ever seen has been a place to charge preposterous prices for stuff that you can buy new at a nearby store for a lower price.
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Schema Thing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I've never seen that at my local Goodwill.


Sometimes they do price new things at about 80% of the new price (at Target), which is still too much considering that it probably ended up in Goodwill because it was a return or a slow selling item, and considering the fact that it was free to Goodwill.


I was just this morning shopping at a huge new thrift store which is for profit - I wouldn't be surprised if their source is these "scams" mentioned in the op's article. I paid 7.99 for a pair of jeans that would have been 50 bucks or more new (not that I would ever pay that). I think that's about what Goodwill would charge. Goodwill often runs half price sales too.
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davidinalameda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. me too
I've never seen anything like that at my local Goodwill

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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 04:26 PM
Response to Reply #11
21. As a matter of fact, I happened to stop by the local Goodwill about 20 minutes ago
Among the highlights:

Taped-up ziplock bags of five (5) visibly dirty, chipped generic Hotwheels-style cars: $6.99

Giveaway holiday goblets that were $0.99 at Arby's fourteen years ago: $2.79 each

Various electronic typewriters: $39.99, $44.99, and $52.99

Sega Genesis cartridges, each: $4.99

Sun-damaged PC keyboards: $14.99 to $24.99

Two-button computer mouse: $8.99

Particle-board shelves visibly cracked and broken: $44.99 (brand new @ KMart today, $29.99)

Visibly broken entertainment center: $54.99

Various pieces of office equipment such as staplers, tape dispensers, pencil caddies, etc: $9.99 to $24.99


I don't doubt that some people's Goodwill stores offer a good value for the price, but over the years I've been in over two dozen different stores in about as many cities, and the story has always been the same.
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Uben Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 12:17 PM
Response to Original message
7. I no longer use Goodwill....
Edited on Sat Oct-16-10 12:18 PM by Uben
...except for shopping. I collect donations for a charity at our schools where we stock and display clothes and linens for needy schoolkids and their parents only. That way we know donations go directly to those we are trying to get support to. We also stock food shelves so we can send food home to some needy kids on weekends because that's the only nutrition some of them get! It's a helluva lot of work, but making one child smile or feel better because he has decent clothing makes it all worthwhile.

I'm retired, so I have time, and this is the best use of that time I have found.
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Dappleganger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 01:35 PM
Response to Original message
12. We donate either directly to the charity or they drive to pick up the items.
We've never used a bin before, however. There's a local women's shelter that is highly reputable which gets all of our donations.
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chaska Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 01:35 PM
Response to Original message
13. GOODWILL IS THE TRUE SCAM....
They get free stuff which they sell in order to ... give to charity??? No, they are their own charity. They actually use your donations to pay their own employees. Not to mention their ridiculous level of profit. They say their employees are incapable of working elsewhere, that they are special-case employees. BULLSHIT! Their employees are as good, and usually better than your average wall mart employee. Check it out for yourself.

BTW, the good stuff goes in Goodwill's dumpster. They sell only a very limited list of merchandise; mostly clothes and nicknacks. Crap, in other words. You wouldn't believe the stuff they throw away.

Don't use Goodwill. They are a corporate lie.
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Gin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. I donate to Union Mission....they do good work
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Liberal_in_LA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. Yikes! didn't know
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. The Oregon Goodwill top-man (President? CEO?) annual income was 5 million.
Meanwhile, they get their stuff for free, and are ridiculously overpriced. My neighbor works at the local Goodwill, and she is completely able bodied with normal intelligence -- she has no disabilities.

I do not support Goodwill, either. I donate my stuff to other places.
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Arugula Latte Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 04:28 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. In Portland, I try to bring my stuff over to Value Village, which is farther for me.
I get a 20 percent off coupon for every drop-off, and they are affiliated with the charity ARC.
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Quantess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 05:32 PM
Response to Reply #22
26. Value Village is a good one.
My favorite is the Red White and Blue which is a charity for Veterans.
I have no idea how charitable they are to veterans, but they offer a better variety of stuff for a lot lower prices than the GW. Hence, faster circulation of items. Unlike the GW, which has high prices and not many people buying anything, the Red White and Blue always has 2 or 3 cashiers working hard, and customers buying a lot. Their parking lot is always full, too, because it's so popular.

They come and pick up donations from your house. At least, they do where I live.

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lpbk2713 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-17-10 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #13
32. My daughter got hurt on the job working for Goodwill.




She received many compliments on her work from her local superiors up to that time. She was fired after she was injured, there was no negligence or culpability on her part for having been hurt. The decision to fire her came from beyond the local level. They said they had to cut back on the number of employees but I know they didn't want to pay for everything associated with her injury. I advised her to contact a labor attorney but she didn't want to do that because she liked her local manager and thought it might have an adverse effect on her. Now that I know about the true nature of "Good"will, they won't get anything from me.



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gmoney Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 03:06 PM
Response to Original message
18. well, are there any charities that are not scams?
any charities where the bigwigs don't make hundreds of thousands, even millions?
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Nye Bevan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #18
24. There are a few.
I'm a member of the American Institute of Philanthropy (see http://charitywatch.org /). They are a charity watchdog and they assign a letter grade to each charity based upon what percentage of donations actually goes to the good cause, and what the fundraising expenses are. Their newsletter also gives the salary range for the top 3 officers of the charity. I just skimmed through the latest edition and there are some A or A+ rated charities where the top salary is less than $100k. Child Find of America is one example (rated A+, top salary $74k). Rainforest Action Network is another; rated A, top salaries in the range $83k-$95k.

I would encourage you to join the AIP. A $40 donation gets you their newsletter 3 times per year. The newsletter is very helpful in deciding which charities deserve your money.

See http://charitywatch.org/membership.html
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-17-10 11:47 AM
Response to Reply #18
29. Nope.
None. All charities are scams. You should never donate money, time or goods to any. Ever.

:sarcasm:
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jberryhill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 04:43 PM
Response to Original message
23. LOL at Goodwill

That takes some nerve on their part to call anything a "scam".
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-16-10 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. +1
several times over, in fact.
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Lugnut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-17-10 12:50 AM
Response to Original message
27. Those bins have been around here for years.
Sometimes men in a van leave yellow slips in the newspaper box at the end of our driveway announcing their future pickup date. I've always ignored them since the Goodwill location is only 2 miles from here and I knew the yellow slips were from a for-profit operation.
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Patiod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-17-10 11:13 AM
Response to Original message
28. Any idea what to do with a box of clean rags?
A little OT, but: I have a box of sheets (and some clothes) which are no longer usable. Wouldn't be re-sellable or usable as clothing.

Any ideas about the best way to handle them?
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zalinda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-17-10 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. Put it on Craig's list in the free section
or see if you have a local Freecycle, go to Freecycle.org Many people need these items, including your local animal shelter.

zalinda
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Retrograde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-17-10 01:55 PM
Response to Reply #28
34. recycle them for cleaning?
especially if they're cotton. When t-shirts get to the point where they're as much hole as fabric I cut them up and use them for dusting, polishing, cleaning up after the cats, washing the car, etc. Polyester and blends don't work as well, and wools are right out. Sheets are great for covering furniture and floors if you have to paint, or want to keep cat hair off the "people" furniture. Old towels are good for sick animals.

They'll eventually wind up in a landfill, most likely, but they'll have gotten some more use and you won't have to buy as much special purpose cleaning stuff.
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girl gone mad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-17-10 11:57 AM
Response to Original message
30. Sell to your local thrift or consignment store.
Edited on Sun Oct-17-10 11:57 AM by girl gone mad
The money will stay local, there is less energy consumed and you are helping keep the goods available in your community.

This goes for used books and CDs, too. There are a few big sellers that solicit "donations" in the name of charity, but they pocket 98% of the money. It's a scam. Support your local resale shops, instead. I've never heard of a local thrift store asking for "donations". Even for the stuff they do end up giving away, they will pay you something for it. I hate the fake charity scams.
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Greyhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-17-10 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
33. Typical of the "charity industry" in general. I was really quite shocked when, in a fit of altruism,
I decided that giving some back was a good thing and so responded to an advert for a large international charity with a stellar reputation seeking entrepreneurs to coach small/micro businesses and start-ups to make their endeavors more successful.

Having recently sold my latest (then) enterprise for a nice stack of cash, I figured that I didn't need much, if any, money so now was a good time to do some of that good through an organization with an existing infrastructure. Actually putting my name in the ad they placed was the only thing that would have made it more relevant to me.

What I learned was that the "charity industry" is a very small, incestuous world with absolutely no interest in getting any help that cannot be converted into increasing their own, not insignificant, salaries.

Bottom line; If you don't already work in the "charity industry", they are just not interested. Even after explaining that I didn't expect to make anywhere near my former salary and that I have a proven track record of successfully doing exactly what they claimed to want (not to mention connections to alternative resources and some of the very latest innovations in funding and management) they made it plain that my services would not be welcomed since "I didn't understand how they work".

I been around the block more than a couple of times, and I know exactly how they work. And I can recognize when someone is worried about their scam being exposed as a scam to those they are scamming.

In many ways these organizations are worse than the for-profit private sector. Even fewer on top taking lots of the proceeds to support their very generous salaries while literally paying nothing to those doing the work.


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