TribLIVE

| USWorld

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Clothing bins don't always help charities

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By USA Today
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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Feds accuse Philadelphia congressman Fattah of corruption
  2. Cincy officer indicted on murder charge in fatal shooting of motorist
  3. Calif. oil slick expected to dissipate
  4. 911 dispatcher hung up on caller before wounded teen’s death in June
  5. Clinton to testify before House committee on Benghazi in October
  6. University of New Hampshire language guide panned
  7. Planned Parenthood requests expert study
  8. Undocumented alien released, suspected in crime spree
  9. Compromise keeps highway accounts funded
  10. House approves bill targeting VA staffers
  11. Defense memo reveals plan to protect transgender troops