Sorry, we can’t afford to take your donations

19May10

I’ve been researching the options for donating extra office furniture, since our main office has some older desks and partitions that we’re not using. (It turns out that employees prefer the newer, nicer stuff, and I don’t blame them.) Anyways, one of the first options that came to mind was Goodwill. I looked up the local chapter, but quickly learned that Goodwill isn’t a suitable option.

According to their website, Goodwill no longer picks up furniture donations — at least not the South Florida chapter that would serve our office down there. They were a little vague about the reasons for the change, but they probably include factors like these:

– High cost of gas and auto insurance
– Low quality of donated items
– Labor cost of drivers and staff to schedule the appointments

Even with the theories above, it’s rather surprising that Goodwill can’t make the business model work. I mean, they essentially get the goods for free, aside from the cost of picking the items up, and then resell them in their stores. But from the perspective of would-be contributors — the folks like us who have items to give away — the loss of Goodwill’s pickup service is a real downer.

Is there a way to fix this situation? Sure. Reinstate the pickup service, but add a charge for it. The charge needs to be reasonable — say $20 for the first couple of large items and $5 for each large item after that. Then, purchase some software to let people schedule their pickups online. By taking these steps, Goodwill could turn a money-losing service into a profit center — while saving a lot of older yet decent-quality furniture from the local dump.



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