As the nation’s leading nonprofit workforce development provider, Goodwill has been in the business of changing lives for 118 years. Goodwill Industries International is a network of 157 community-based, autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 12 other countries. Local Goodwill organizations offer employment opportunities, job placement and training services, and other community-based programs, funded by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 3,350 stores and at shopgoodwill.com®. Last year, more than 34 million people used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill services, and more than 1.6 million people used in-person services. We equip job seekers to earn good jobs in fields such as IT, construction and healthcare. To ensure job seekers can thrive in the workforce, Goodwill also partners to provide support services to help people be successful in their training and employment, such as child care, financial education, mentoring, tax preparation and transportation.
How has COVID-19 impacted your operations?
Nearly all of our donation centers and retail stores were closed due to the pandemic, we lost our critical revenue stream to support our job training and placement services. In addition, many local Goodwill organizations were forced to furlough or lay off both retail and administrative staff while facing this economic crisis. With nearly 40 million newly unemployed individuals in need of immediate support, Goodwill organizations integrated or transitioned their critical mission services to virtual delivery, including online learning, job training and virtual career fairs.
Now that most Goodwill locations have reopened, they are putting safety and social distancing protocols in place. We are securing and ensuring use of personal protective equipment for employees, operating with reduced store occupancies, and training staff on new safety protocols. Goodwills’ donation collection processes have also been updated to protect donors, shoppers and employees.
What has your organization been doing behind the scenes while store locations have been closed?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while our stores and donations temporarily closed, Goodwill organizations across the United States and Canada formed local partnerships to respond and help people get much-needed resources. Some Goodwills collected personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate to area medical personnel, others donated scrubs and fabric to make masks for local medical facilities, some partnered with local food banks to collect and distribute meals to families, and still others offered their locations for drive-thru COVID testing.
As a mission-based nonprofit organization, Goodwill® cares deeply for the people we serve and our employees, as well as the many donors, shoppers and volunteers who allow us to help our local communities every day. In times of crisis, supporting each other as a community is vital to ensure the health and safety of our neighbors.
How have retailers worked with you in the past?
Goodwill has a long history of partnering with retailers to maximize social impact. We have worked with several leading retailers in the past to coordinate employee and customer donation drives, place people in jobs, design skills training, activate cause marketing campaigns including round up at the register (in store and online), and receive donations of excess inventory. In one recent example, Goodwill is partnering with IKEA to collect textiles, home accessories, small storage and small furniture from customers.
Which, if any, of those retailer collaboration channels are either available right now or won’t be viable for a while?
More than 95 percent of Goodwills in the U.S. and Canada are ready to partner with retailers to receive excess inventory donations as well as goods collected through employee or customer donation drives, help place people in jobs in their companies, and form other cause marketing campaigns as needed in the community.
What are the top items retailers should donate?
All items that Goodwill typically sells in its store will be considered, such as housewares, electronics, clothing, shoes and accessories. Donations must be in sellable/working condition.
Interested in learning more about Goodwill?
To learn more about Goodwill, visit www.goodwill.org. If you’re ready to pursue a potential partnership for donations or hiring, visit our Partners page and complete the short webform at the bottom of the page. You can also email our partnerships team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also hear from Goodwill in the Retail Compliance Center’s (RCC) recent webinar on Retail Donation Programs.