I try to avoid donating my old stuff to Goodwill—their CEO makes way too much money, and people who are really poor and/or without homes probably can't afford Goodwill prices. Is there another way for me to pass things on to those in need? —Sarah R.
As of 2019, Michael Miller, CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette, was making just over $900,000 in annual compensation. You might say that sounds like a lot to run an outfit most people associate with broken curling irons and stuffed animals that smell like baby spit, but in fairness to Miller, he himself is not broken, and he probably smells at least as good as Jeff Merkley.
In fact, Miller has kind of been killing it for decades. Since he took the helm in 1986, revenues have increased thirtyfold, making GICW and its 2,800 employees No. 1 among the nation's 160 regional Goodwill chains in both donations and revenue.
Is this the result of genuine managerial genius, or is it just a case of somebody having the stones to charge you $12 for a used T-shirt that sold at Target brand new for $9.99? Who's to say?
Either way, it probably didn't hurt that 1986 was a good year for a Portland-area retail chain to institute a policy of buying the real estate its stores were sitting on instead of renting it—GICW's assets are now valued at well over $400 million.
The board of directors clearly wants to keep the good news coming, and they're willing to pay for it. Their statement about the fact that their CEO makes twice as much as the bosses of comparable nonprofits talks of "retaining outstanding leaders." In other words, they don't want Miller—the Damian Lillard of used George Foreman grills—getting lured away by those slimeballs at Goodwill Industries of Boise-Spokane.
All that said, Sarah, none of this solves your problem of what to do with your crap if you want to make sure it finds its way into the hands of the neediest. There are a number of worthwhile organizations that will take your donations, but Transition Projects (tprojects.org) leaps to mind, since its office at 665 NW Hoyt St. accepts donations around the clock, seven days a week.
There are a few caveats: Clothing should be in good condition, appropriate for the season, clean and ready to wear. They also accept linens, hygiene products and other useful household items. George Foreman grills accepted by prior arrangement only.
Questions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.