Clothing bins don't always help charities
By USA Today
Published: Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, 6:10 p.m.
Castoff clothing dropped off in bins doesn't always end up with charities devoted to helping the poor.
More and more, the bins are being operated by for-profit recycling firms or nonprofits that give only a small portion of their proceeds to charity.
Goodwill officials said they can't measure the exact impact of the proliferation of bins, spokeswoman Lauren Lawson-Zilai said.
But she said they have eaten into donations, which in turn hurts Goodwill's ability to fund its work. Goodwill provides job training and job-placement programs paid for largely through the retail sales at its network of thrift stores — a business that brought in $2.59 billion in 2011.
Lawson-Zilai said 82 percent of the revenue from sales of donated items went toward services that helped more than 4.2 million people last year.
In contrast, the most recent federal tax return from nonprofit Planet Aid, which operates donation bins across the country, shows that just 28 percent of its $36.5 million in spending went to its international aid programs in 2011. The bulk of its spending went to collect and process clothes for recycling.
The low percentage of money going to international aid programs earned Planet Aid an “F” from ratings organization CharityWatch. CharityWatch gave an A to Goodwill.
USAgain, an Illinois company that also collects clothing through drop-off boxes, is a for-profit recycler, and states as much on the 10,000 bins it maintains in 17 states, spokesman Scott Burnham said. The company collected 60 million pounds of clothing donations in 2011, he added.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Expats renounce citizenship over U.S. tax hassles
- Obama losing close adviser to end 9 years of service
- Flubbed ‘stifling’ finally ends 29-round spelling bee
- Immigrant detainees on hunger strike
- John Denver tune finally an ‘official’ W.Va. state song
- Wikileaks founder teases about more secrets to be released
- Parents of ‘spoiled’ teen urge her to return home
- Health marketplace targets not signing up, survey shows
- Spyware in government computers ‘has Russian paw prints all over it’
- ‘Holy grail of guitars’ for sale in April auction
- World War II veteran receives once-declined Purple Heart