9 Myths About Goodwill (And Why They’re Not True)
Fact or fiction, real or unreal? On this page, we’re dispelling some common misconceptions about Horizon Goodwill and Goodwill Industries in general.
- Myth #1: Goodwill pays its team members less than the minimum wage.
Fact: This one’s easy to debunk! All team members start at or above minimum wage. Team members are also eligible for Goodwill-funded benefits, including paid time off, insurance, and retirement.
- Myth #2: Goodwill store team members get first dibs on donated items.
Fact: Goodwill has several policies to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to score those unique finds. Team members are not allowed to shop while they are working, and all items must be on the sales floor for a specified amount of time before they can be purchased by Goodwill employees.
- Myth #3: Only a small percentage of revenue generated by Goodwill goes toward funding Goodwill educational, career training, and employment services.
Fact: Goodwill is a responsible steward of all funding streams — retail/online sales, private donations/grants, state/federal grants, staffing services, and business contracts. For every dollar earned or received, around 90¢ is reinvested back into the communities Horizon Goodwill serves to provide no-cost programming that helps individuals get and maintain employment.
- Myth #4: Donated goods that are not purchased in-store are just thrown away.
Fact: All items donated to Goodwill go through a comprehensive sustainability lifecycle. If they’re not sold in-store within a certain amount of time, they’re transferred back to a Goodwill warehouse, where they are processed for recycling if possible.
- Myth #5: Goodwill is not a nonprofit.
Fact: For over 70 years, Horizon Goodwill (previously Hagerstown Goodwill) has been recognized by the IRS as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Our mission – Removing Barriers, Creating Opportunities – is on display every day in the community. We’re committed to serving the underserved – people lacking education, people with disabilities, people facing homelessness, people with a criminal background, and youth lacking opportunity – and all funding we receive powers our programs.
- Myth #6: Valuable, high-end items that are donated are only sold online, not in-store.
Fact: While it is true that we may set aside items like fine art and designer handbags to be sold on shopgoodwill.com that doesn’t mean that shoppers don’t have access to the same type of items in-store! Whether an item is sold online or in-store, all sales support our mission of transforming generations by empowering people through employment.
- Myth #7: Goodwill is owned by Mark Curran, who makes millions of dollars in salary each year.
Fact: Every year, this story circulates on social media. As a 501c(3), Goodwill does not and cannot have an owner. The President and CEO of Horizon Goodwill is David Shuster, who was selected by a locally elected Board of Directors. Mark Curran has never owned Goodwill or worked for Goodwill Industries.
The CEO of Goodwill Industries International is Steven Preston, who also reports to a volunteer board of directors.
- Myth #8: You shouldn’t donate to Goodwill because they don’t help anyone.
Fact: Goodwill was founded by Edgar J. Helms with the philosophy of providing “a hand up, not a handout.” This mission is still true today. Goodwill doesn’t just give help to someone once; we believe in teaching people the skills they need to find sustainable success, whatever that may mean to the individual person.
- Myth #9: Goodwill stores are only for people of low income.
Fact: This is not true. Anyone can shop at Goodwill. In fact, anytime you shop at Goodwill and find a good deal for yourself, you do a great deal more for the community. Goodwill runs on the donations of the community, and we try to price all donations at a fair market value based on the brand and condition of the item. We also sell brand-new items in our store as well to supplement donations on the sales floor or offer specialty items like Halloween accessories or makeup.