7 Myths About Goodwill (And Why They’re Not True)

Over 10,000 Central Texans who face employment obstacles are served annually through Goodwill’s mission-based services, including job placement assistance for underserved populations, career training through the Goodwill Career and Technical Academy (GCTA), and adult high school education at The Goodwill Excel Center, the first adult high school in the state.

As one of the region’s largest employers and a leader in inclusive hiring practices, Goodwill Central Texas currently diverts almost 80% of all donations from the landfill, with a goal of increasing to 90%. In addition, 89 cents of every dollar spent at one of our 35 stores and outlets in the Greater Austin area help fund the organization’s free services and community programs. 100% of monetary donations fund the mission.

Goodwill is also the leading workforce provider in North America, placing someone in a new job every minute of every business day. Goodwill has a nearly 120-year track record in providing services to people going through transition, whether due to military service, lack of education or work experience, mental or physical challenges, or being impacted by the criminal justice system.

Common Myths Debunked

We know that you want your donations to be used wisely. Below please find some myths and facts about Goodwill.

Myth 1: Goodwill is a for-profit company

The truth: This is the biggest rumor we hear, and it is absolutely not true. For over 65 years, Goodwill Central Texas has been a private 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Any ‘profits’ generated in our stores are reinvested back into our mission.

More than 94% of sales revenue supports the community-based programs and services we offer, including job placement and career training, credentials and certifications, and support services, such as childcare, financial education, mentoring, and transportation. This is well above the Better Business Bureau’s accountability standards, which require that an organization spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program services.

Myth 2: Goodwill pays its CEO millions of dollars

The truth: Every year, this rumor circulates on social media from time to time. As does the false rumor that the organization is run by someone named Mark Curran. Goodwill does not have an owner. As a nonprofit organization, Goodwill is run by a volunteer board of directors. The CEO of Goodwill Central Texas is Rob Neville, who is based in our North Austin office. No CEO in the Goodwill system has ever made “millions of dollars” as an annual salary.

Myth 3: Goodwill is run by an international corporation

The truth: As mentioned above, Goodwill Central Texas is an independent regional organization. Our employees and clients live and work in Central Texas. The revenue earned in our stores goes back into the local community by funding our programs and mission.

Goodwill Industries International (GII) is based in Rockville, Maryland, and has a network of more than 150 community-based, autonomous Goodwill organizations in the United States, Canada, and 12 other countries. In Texas, there are 12 different Goodwill organizations, one of which is Goodwill Central Texas. To meet the needs of each individual community, each Goodwill organization designs its own structure, programs, and services to help serve the people who live near the place they work.

For every dollar earned through the sale of donated items, 89¢ is reinvested back into our social services programs and the Central Texas community. For monetary charitable donations, the percent reinvested is 100%. We stand behind our vision of a Central Texas where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Myth 4: Goodwill pays people with disabilities pennies per hour

The truth: Goodwill’s mission is to provide work opportunities and training to people with employment barriers, regardless of ability. Goodwill Central Texas never pays its employees below minimum wage. In fact, the average wage for Goodwill Central Texas clients in 2021 was $13.12, almost twice the Texas minimum wage. All Goodwill Central Texas team members start out earning at least $12 per hour. Team members also receive Goodwill-funded benefits, career coaching support, and wraparound services for those in need.

It is true that a 14C sub-minimum wage certificate enables employers to pay people with disabilities less than minimum wage, and some Goodwill organizations may have used these in the past. However, Goodwill in Central Texas has never used this certificate and always pays employees fair wages.

Myth 5: All the donated items are sold to Goodwill employees first

The truth: Goodwill has a strict policy against employees purchasing items before they reach the sales floor. There is a waiting period for employees to purchase any donated items. Additionally, Goodwill employees are not allowed to purchase Color of the Week items, ensuring the best deals are available for our customers.

Myth 6: Goodwill is just a thrift store

The truth: Although the Goodwill thrift stores are most widely recognized, the reality is that we are so much more. From the sales of donated items in our stores, 94 cents of every dollar is funneled back into the Central Texas community. Our stores exist to help cover the cost of our programs. This includes the GCTA and The Goodwill Excel Center, the only adult high school in the state. In 2021, Goodwill Central Texas provided services to nearly 9,000 Central Texans in need.

Myth 7: Unpurchased donated goods are sent to landfills or third-world countries

The truth: Shopping second-hand is one of the best ways to be sustainable and keep things out of landfills. Currently, Goodwill Central Texas has a landfill diversion rate of almost 80%, with a goal to increase it to 90%.

Donated goods at Goodwill go through a lifecycle. If they’re not sold in-store within 30 days, they’re transferred to a Goodwill Outlet Store, where everything is available at a super-low bulk price. If they’re still not purchased, they then make their way to our recycling facility at the Goodwill Resource Center.

As one of the largest recyclers in Central Texas, Goodwill is proud to be a leader in sustainability. Once at the Goodwill Resource Center, items may then be sold to other businesses that responsibly upcycle or recycle those materials.

Certified by the State of Texas as an authorized collector of electronic waste, Goodwill also offers an eco-friendly way to dispose of outdated or damaged equipment. Hard drives are safely decommissioned or destroyed in accordance with the U.S. Department of Defense standards. In 2023, we were the number one recycler of electronics as part of the Dell Reconnect program.

Every item donated to Goodwill is greatly appreciated and used to the best of our ability to fund our mission. Find your nearest donation center and make a donation today!