Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Rumor About Goodwill

There was a posting on Facebook last week warning people about the charities they might be donating to. It listed about five of these so-called charities, and gave the annual income of their CEOs. Some of these people make an incredible salary, for what are supposed to be non-profit organizations.

The problem with social media is that anyone can write something up and post it. We read it and believe the information to be true. I was curious about this list of charities. I collected for Unicef as a child, as did my children. Another one, the March of Dimes is well known. The United Way is big in my community with numerous fund raisers throughout the year.

What caught my eye on the list was Goodwill. That organization has been around for a long time. The post on Facebook stated it was privately owned by a Mark Curran, and he makes something like 2.5 billion dollars a year by selling donated items and paying his employees less than minimum wage.

I knew that could not be correct, that Goodwill could not possibly be run as a for-profit business. So I did some research. There were many references to this posting, including one that said Mark Curran is the Sheriff of Lake County, Illinois and has no association with Goodwill.

Goodwill Industries Int. Inc. is an American non-profit 501 organization that provides job training, employment placement services and other community based programs for people with disabilities. It was founded in 1902, by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and an early social innovator.

Rev. Helms implemented the idea of collecting used household goods and clothing from wealthier area, then trained and hired those who were poor or disabled to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold.

The system worked and the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out’ was born. Yes, the organization is worth billions, but it is a non-profit charitable organization. Their mission remains creating jobs, providing work opportunities and training for people, helping them to realize their potential.

There are 165 community based agencies in the U.S. and Canada, with affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill channels 82% of its revenue directly into its programs and services.

I don’t know where this kind of disinformation comes from, or why someone would wish to spread such lies. Is the purpose to create unrest among the population, to make us doubt those agencies that do good work?

It makes me reluctant to ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ anything I see unless I knew it to be true. Rumors can be a hurtful thing whether they are spread about one person, a group or, in this case, an organization.

And so ends today’s lecture.

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