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Myths about Goodwill and why they are not true.

Over 6,000 Arkansans who face employment obstacles are served annually through Goodwill’s mission-based services, including our Career Services which provides job placement assistance in 34 locations in Arkansas, our Reentry programs with more than 20 locations for justice-involved individuals seeking a return to society, and our Goodwill Training and Education Centers (GTEC) that serve adults looking to earn their high school diploma or obtain industry-leading credentials and certifications located in Little Rock and Springdale.

With more than 1,200 employees across the state, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas (GIA) is one of the state’s larger employers and employs many people who have come through our mission services programs and those who desire a better life for themselves. In FY23, GIA diverted more than 38 million pounds from landfills. In addition, 90 cents of every dollar spent at one of Goodwill’s 35 stores in Arkansas help fund the organization’s free services and community programs. One hundred percent of monetary donations fund mission service programs.

In North America, the network of 154 Goodwill organizations is the leading workforce provider, placing someone in a new job every minute of every business day. Goodwill has a nearly 120-year track record in providing services to people going through transition due to lack of education or work experience, mental or physical challenges, or being impacted by the criminal justice system. We are in the business of removing barriers from people so they may become thriving members of society and strengthen their communities as a result.

Goodwill Myth Busters

We know you want your donations to be used wisely. Below are some myths and facts about Goodwill.

Myth #1: Goodwill is a for-profit company.

The Truth: Goodwill Industries of Arkansas was created in Little Rock in 1927 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to change lives through education, training and employment. You may know us most for our thrift stores, but here’s the heart of what  we do. For nearly 100 years, GIA has provided thousands of people with barriers to employment the opportunity to achieve their highest levels of personal and economic independence through competitive employment. This includes job placement and career training, credentials and certifications, and support services, such as childcare and transportation. This is well above the Better Business Bureau’s accountability standards, which require that an organization spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program services.

Myth #2: Goodwill pays its CEO millions of dollars.

The Truth: Several times a year, rumors circulate on social media from a social media graphic that has been circulated for 15 years about an individual named Mark Curran, alleging he was the owner of Goodwill and makes millions of dollars a year. Mark Curran did not even exist in the Goodwill network and there can be no owner of a 501(c)3. As a nonprofit organization, GIA is run by a volunteer board of directors. The CEO of Goodwill Industries of Arkansas reports to that board and is based in our Little Rock Headquarters.

Myth #3: Goodwill is run by an international corporation.

The Truth: As mentioned above, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas is an independent organization. Our employees and clients live and work in Arkansas. Ninety percent of our funding comes from the sale of donated goods. Funds raised from your donations stay in Arkansas and fund job training programs, careers services, and more programs to help Arkansans overcome barriers to employment. 

Goodwill Industries International (GII) is based in Rockville, Maryland, and has a network of more than 150 community-based, autonomous Goodwill organizations in the United States, Canada, and 12 other countries. To meet the needs of each individual community, each Goodwill organization designs its own structure, programs, and services to help serve the people who live near the place they work.

Myth #4: Goodwill pays people with disabilities pennies per hour.

The Truth: Goodwill’s mission is to provide work opportunities and training to people with employment barriers, regardless of ability. In fact, GIA also has Disability Services which are offered free to employees that provide support, services and resources. GIA never pays its employees below minimum wage. Eligible employees can also receive Goodwill funded benefits, education and training opportunities.

Myth #5: All the donated items are sold to Goodwill employees first. 

The Truth: Goodwill has a strict policy against employees purchasing items before they reach the sales floor. There is a waiting period for employees to purchase any donated items ensuring the best deals are available for our customers. Additionally, Goodwill employees are not allowed to shop the week's new color tag unless it is specified work-related clothing.

Myth #6: Goodwill is just a thrift store. 

The Truth: Although the Goodwill thrift stores are most widely recognized,  the reality is that we are so much more. Ninety percent of our funding comes from the sale of donated goods. Funds raised from your donations stay in Arkansas and fund job training programs, career services, and more programs to help Arkansans overcome barriers to employment. Our stores exist to help cover the cost of our programs including our Goodwill Training and Education Centers that serve adults looking to earn their high school diploma in The Excel Center or obtain industry-leading credentials and certifications at The Academy at Goodwill.

 

In addition, GIA offers Career Services which provides job placement assistance in 34 locations in Arkansas and our Reentry programs with more than 20 locations for justice-involved individuals seeking a return to society. GIA's Reentry program is the Transitional Employment Opportunity (TEO) program and provides 16-week paid job training, career readiness certification, job readiness skills, plus barrier assessment and removal strategies to name a few. The recidivism rate for the TEO program is less than 6 percent compared to the state average of greater than 46 percent.

 

There are many other mission-focused programs at GIA including Books for Kids which provides books to children in low-income families. This program works directly with Title 1 schools or programs in Arkansas and provides high-quality books to these children. Also, GIA offers "mission money" which is a voucher to be used at our Goodwill retail locations so individuals and families who have experienced hardships may shop our stores for items they need to meet basic human needs.

One example of this was in April 2023 when GIA distributed more than $200,000 in vouchers to victims of the devastating tornadoes in Central Arkansas so they may replace their belongings after losing so much during the storms. GIA also assisted the City of Little Rock with the transportation and overall logistics of items donated from around the country. Our thrift store expertise allowed GIA to help the community during a great time of need.

In FY23, Goodwill of Arkansas provided services to more than 6,000 Arkansans in need.

Myth #7: Unpurchased donated goods are sent to landfills or
third-world countries.

The Truth: Shopping second-hand is one of the best ways to be sustainable and keep things out of landfills. In FY23, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas diverted more than 38 million pounds of used goods from local landfills.

Donated goods at Goodwill go through a lifecycle. If they’re not sold in-store within 30 days, they’re transferred to a Goodwill Outlet Store where  everything is available at a super-low bulk price. If they’re still not purchased, items may then be sold to other businesses that responsibly upcycle or recycle those materials.

We actively promote donating as a form of recycling, giving Arkansans an easy, environmentally friendly, recycling option instead of landfilling their unwanted items. In the last year, we have expanded our recovery process to include home pick up options, which provides recycling service to groups who might not have access to transportation.

 

Every item donated to Goodwill is greatly appreciated and used to the best of our ability to fund our mission.

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