Double-Check Before You Donate

Dec 20, 2010, 09:56 ET from Goodwill Industries International

Goodwill® Urges Donors to Give to Legitimate Charities

ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year for the donation of household items. It is also one of the busiest times of the year -- period. As a result, many people look for the quickest, easiest way to donate their used goods. This practice can, unfortunately, have unintended consequences, such as boosting the income of a for-profit group rather than aiding a nonprofit, charitable organization.

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Goodwill® is urging consumers to double-check before donating goods this holiday season. First, donors should check with their state attorney general or secretary of state's office to find out if a charity is legitimate. Second, they should check with a charity-rating agency such as Charity Navigator or GuideStar or online resources such as GreatNonprofits or Philanthropedia to find out more about specific charities.

"At Goodwill, we find that people want to do the right thing by donating gently used items. Unfortunately, in the rush of the holiday season, they sometimes drop their unwanted items at the nearest collection bin," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "It may seem as if they are making a charitable donation, but that is not always the case."

By checking with state authorities, consumers can quickly identify whether an organization is, in fact, registered as a legitimate charity. Rating agencies provide a wealth of information about charities, including how effective they are and whether their finances are in order.

On a practical level, consumers should be cautious of donation bins that don't clearly state the mission and contact information for the organization. While some bins are operated by genuine charities, many actually benefit for-profit organizations. More and more states nationwide are now requiring that unattended bins be clearly marked, but it is important for people to make informed choices about their donations.

"A good way to go is to give to charities you know and trust," said Gibbons. "Fraudulent charities can try to trick you by using slightly changed names of established groups, so be sure to carefully read the name of the charity on the bin before giving. And avoid donating to organizations that can't immediately provide you with information about the causes they are asking you to support."

Donations to Goodwill are sold in local stores and online. The revenues then fund job training programs and support services that enable people from all backgrounds to obtain and maintain economic independence and an increased quality of life. In 2009, nearly 2 million people benefited from Goodwill's career services. By giving to Goodwill, donors are playing a vital role in helping people go to work.

For more information about donations or to learn more about Goodwill programs and services, visit


Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based agencies in the United States and Canada with 14 affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill is one of North America's top five most valuable and recognized nonprofit brands as well as a leading social services enterprise (Source: Cone Nonprofit Power Brand 100, 2009). Goodwill operates more than 2,500 retail stores and the first and only nonprofit Internet auction site, Local Goodwill agencies also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document imaging and shredding. In 2009, nearly 2 million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill's career services. Goodwill channels 83 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services. To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at, or call (800) 741-0186. Twitter: @GoodwillIntl. Facebook: GoodwillIntl.

SOURCE Goodwill Industries International