Donated Goods FAQ's

Most people know that the donation of used goods to Goodwill Industries is a great way to earn charitable tax deductions off their itemized returns. But despite being a 102-year-old organization, a lot of people still don't know what happens to their donations after Goodwill receives them and exactly how these donations help our community. Below is a simple Q&A to let you know what happens to your merchandise after you drop it off at Goodwill.

  • What happens to items that are donated to Goodwill?
    Donations go immediately to a processing center where they are sorted by category (electronics, women's clothing, men's clothing, toys, etc.), then priced based on a good, better or best quality scale. All items are marked very inexpensively so that people of all income levels can easily afford them. At times, we also sell excess donations to other Goodwill organizations and salvage dealers, with the money generated staying locally to help Washington area residents get jobs.

  • Are your valuable donations also sold in your stores?
    YES, and that's what makes shopping at Goodwill an everyday adventure. Can you imagine the thrill of finding a valuable item in the mix of our very inexpensively marked merchandise? Normally, valuable items such as furs, jewelry, art and antiques are placed on Goodwill's e-commerce sites, which include www.shopgoodwill.org, Goodwill's eBay Store, and our Amazon.com Store. Other items are often saved and auctioned off at fundraisers throughout the year. Several such items will be auctioned off at the Washington Business Journal's "Book of Lists" party in March.

  • Does Goodwill accept everything?
    Except for hazardous material, CPSC-recalled items, large appliances, and used mattresses and box springs, we accept almost everything provided it's not soiled, broken or missing pieces. We advise customers to apply the “Mom Test” before donating. If the item is something you would give to your mother, then we would gladly accept it. For a more detailed list of items we do and do not accept, click the menu selections above.

  • When donating computers, Should donors purge the operating system and other software?
    To protect your privacy, Goodwill of Greater Washington recommends that you back up any necessary data and remove all data from your hard drives before donating your computer(s) with the exception of your operating system . You are responsible for all confidential data that may be stored on your computer(s) or on any other storage devices with or on all products you donate. You bear sole responsibility for removing or securing such data, or for transferring it to a medium under your continuing control. If available, please include your original operating system software CD(s) or diskette(s).

    If you'd like additional information on how to safely donate a computer, please click here . Also, if you'd like to download free software to aid in purging your computer, please refer to the folowing links.

    Freeware Windows Disk Cleaning Software (available at Download.com )
    Eraser
    Active@ Kill Disk: Hard Drive Eraser
    Disk Cleaner
    BCWipe
    Macintosh Disk Cleaning Software
    Wipe Info feature in Norton Utilities
    iClean
    ShredIt X 5.8

  • What happens to items that are broken or cannot be sold?
    Goodwill's policy is not to accept items that are soiled or in disrepair. However, as part of Goodwill of Greater Washington's commitment to be environmentally responsible, items that we receive that cannot be sold in our retail stores for whatever reason, are sold to salvage companies by the pound. This keeps them out of the landfills and still earns revenue to support our training and placement programs for people with disabilities and disadvantages. Read more about Goodwill's Green Initiaives.

  • When does Goodwill need donations the most?
    Goodwill always needs donations of all kinds - cash, cars, clothing, furniture and housewares - because our mission to help others never ends. December is always the busiest donation month as customers seek to make a last-minute donation before the end of the tax year. The slowest time of year is historically the first quarter of the new year when donors are focused more on paying their taxes than on next year's deductions.

  • Does Goodwill generate money through other means?
    Yes, we have a custodial contracts business that cleans almost eight million square feet of government and commercial office space every day, as well as provides pest control, landscaping and mailroom services. We also accept cash as well as automobile donations. In fact, in 1978, our Goodwill became the first nonprofit organization in the nation to accept auto donations as a method to raise money, a program now emulated by hundreds of other nonprofits across the country. Finally, Goodwill of Greater Washington raises additional dollars through special events and on-line auctions.

  • What is Goodwill's mission?
    Goodwill of Greater Washington's mission is to educate, train, employ and place people with disadvantages and disabilities, creating dignity, a stronger workforce, and a more vital community.

  • What exactly are disadvantages and disabilities?
    A person with a disadvantage is someone who has a disadvantaging condition towards employment, such as prior history of substance abuse or incarceration, being a long-term welfare recipient, possessing little or no marketable job skills, or having poor English or math skills. A disability is either mental or physical as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act and as diagnosed by a qualified physician. Goodwill's mission is to help these people get a job by offering them a hand up, not a handout.

  • What happens to the money earned from your different lines of business?
    More than 75 cents out of every dollar goes towards the funding of Goodwill's mission. As good as that number is, we expect it to improve as we continue to improve the way we do business.

  • How is the money used towards fulfilling the Goodwill mission?
    Our Workforce Development Services provide a variety of services to those who need them. Click here for a list and description of the services we provide.

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