Don’t let gossip guide your charitable giving

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By Kim Harsch, Resource Development Coordinator

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A time for family gatherings, warm fires, showering those we love with gifts, for cold noses and hot chocolate, and …spreading false rumors about charitable organizations? Yes, it happens each year around the holidays: negative falsehoods that spread like a California wildfire throughout social media. These rumors are designed to cover well-known nonprofits in a cloud of doubt and suspicion. Mostly, however, copied negative memes draw the focus away from those in need and reflect much more poorly on the person posting them then they do on the organization.

Why? If you post something that is not true, you admit to the general masses that you do not take the time to verify the truth and therefore WANT TO BE A NEGATIVE GOSSIPER. Yes, I said it. You want to gossip. Sorry, I know that isn’t a very Christmassy thing to say but even your elf on the shelf wouldn’t hit “post” without verifying the accuracy of such damaging information.

Bad holiday humor aside, these lies are damaging. Let me give you an example. You may have noticed on social media, the so-called “Think Before You Donate” viral rumor has been circulating. I know it’s popped up on my Facebook feed and has even been shared by a few of my friends. Here is an image of the actual meme:

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This gets shared and shared every year and every year I tell my friends again that this information is false and I give them links to properly research the information. To set the record straight on this particular rumor about Goodwill, an organization I hold so dear, no person named Mark Curran has ever been a CEO at Goodwill Industries and no one in the organization earns the $2.3 million in compensation mentioned in the rumor! Also, Goodwill is not owned by any individual, but in fact is a network of 161 community-based, autonomous nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations. The one that I work for, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, is headquartered in Muskegon with a service territory encompassing, all or portions of, 12 surrounding counties.

All of this factual information is easily available on Goodwill’s website at http://www.goodwillwm.org. It is also verifiable through www.guidestar.org, a third party nonprofit dedicated to researching and rating charitable organizations according to their financial transparency and mission delivery. On Guidestar, you can look at each nonprofit’s actual 990 tax forms to see their revenue sources and how they are spending it. It’s an invaluable resource if you wish to make charitable donations. And it is easily accessible by anyone on the internet.

As a strong believer in Goodwill’s mission as well as an employee of Goodwill, it is incredibly frustrating and disheartening to have to combat this bogus information year after year. Time and money we spend trying to educate misinformed people only detracts from our mission.

I know most of you are aware of the positive impact our organization has on the West Michigan community. Through the revenue generated by your generous donations of household items and monetary contributions, we offer vital employment placement, job training, and support services to members of our community, including people with disabilities, ex-offenders, displaced workers, and more.

My friends who have unknowingly circulated these lies believe in helping our community and they are not thinking about the nearly 5,000 people in West Michigan our Goodwill helps each year. But those are the people affected if donations drop – not some fictitious person named Mark Curran. Remember, as a leader in our community, your voice matters. If you see the “Think Before You Donate” rumor circulating in your social networks, I hope you’ll join us in stopping negative gossip and correcting the information head on. And I hope that you will continue to help us change lives through the power of work by not letting fake news dissuade you from giving! http://bit.ly/2AGyvEe

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Bring Good Home

By Liz Witzler, Marketing Director

Last Thursday, Goodwill Industries and the Ad Council launched an exciting new national campaign, “Bring Good Home,” to inspire more people to shop at Goodwill. Using humor, the cleverly crafted public service announcements illustrate how shopping at a Goodwill directly affects YOUR community by supporting our local job training and employment programs.

A lot of people don’t realize that Goodwill is made up of 161 independent local organizations across North America (with a presence in 13 other countries as well) that are all members of Goodwill Industries International. There are ten separate Goodwill organizations in Michigan alone. We are divided up geographically into designated territories … ours being West Michigan with 16 stores along the lakeshore from Manistee down to Holland. We have our own separate finances, board of directors, etc. and our programs and services vary depending on the needs of our respective communities. Bottom line is, that when you spend your dollars at your local Goodwill store those funds STAY local.

We are a charitable organization that largely funds its own mission through the sale of items that are generously donated from the community. The PSAs, created pro bono by global advertising and marketing agency Digitas, showcase the variety of unique finds available at Goodwill stores and celebrate YOU the shopper.

The campaign’s TV spot depicts Goodwill shoppers as “local heroes” by showing an entire town rallying around one indecisive shopper, encouraging her to make the purchase and erupting in celebration once she does.

The spot ends with, “When you bring home a Goodwill find, you give your whole town a reason to celebrate … because you’re also funding local job training and placement programs in tech, healthcare, and more.”

The new PSA video can be viewed here.

For more information about the programs and services Goodwill Industries of West Michigan offers, visit www.goodwillwm.org

#BringGoodHome

Rainy day Goodwill haul + thrift tips

Happy spring! April showers might bring May flowers…but, in my world, rainy days also bring some fantastic Goodwill finds. When it’s pouring outside, one thing that always cheers me up is grabbing a cup of coffee, meeting a friend, then seeing what sunshine we can find inside my favorite thrift store.  Here’s a look at my latest spring-inspired haul along with some thrift shopping tips that will keep you from leaving the store disappointed.

Tip #1: Shop during or after a storm (as long as it’s safe to go out)! When the weather is rough, but stores are still open, staff is able to work swiftly to sort through donations and get them on the floor because they have fewer customers to assist. And because all the other shoppers are hunkering down at home, you get the pick of the litter as soon as new items hit the shelves! With so many rainy days in the spring, now’s the perfect time to take advantage of this tip. Go to Goodwill on a torrentially rainy day (not just light drizzles) for the best selection and least competition. Don’t worry if you forgot your umbrella! During my thrift haul today I found this classic umbrella that just had to come home with me. Its wooden handle makes it feel a little more special than a regular plastic one. Your local Goodwill might have some unique rain gear, too!

Tip #2: If you love something, buy it! Don’t talk yourself out of it just because you didn’t go shopping with that specific item in mind. Most seasoned thrift shoppers have a story or two about stumbling upon their favorite find at an unexpected time. That’s why I didn’t even hesitate when I saw this blazer. It’s not what I came in for, but blazers are so expensive brand-new that when I saw this one, I instantly tried it on. It’s perfect for my 9-5 job and it’s a fun layer to go over summer dresses so they can work for spring! I couldn’t even wait to get to the dressing room to make sure it fit.

Tip #3: When in doubt, put it in your cart. You can always put it back on the shelf if you change your mind before you leave the store. I was on the fence about these running pants at first, but I put them in my cart while I poked around the rest of the store anyway. Sometimes when I do this, I reassess at the end of the trip and feel comfortable leaving the item behind. But when I was done browsing this morning, I checked in with myself about these pants and felt confident that they were a great choice. At only $9 for brand-new, comfy jogging pants, they are just the motivation I needed to get moving with a new exercise routine this spring. Good thing I put them in my cart when I did—they were the only pair in my size!

Tip #4: Bring a sewing tape measure and know the sizes/colors of specific things you need. One item I had been searching for was a basket or bin that could fit into an empty nook in my bedroom for craft supply storage. When I have specific needs like this I make sure to keep measurements of the space I have to fill on my phone. I also bring along a sewing tape measure (it rolls up so tiny!) so I can check to see if items are the correct size right there in the store. You may also want to bring color swatches or pictures of a certain things you’re trying to match. If you shop prepared then you’ll never take something home that doesn’t fit or leave something behind that could have.

Tip #5: Shop in the middle of the week. Not only will the store be less crowded, but that also means that the good stuff hasn’t been snagged by someone else. This Goodwill haul adventure I’m sharing today took place on a Wednesday so I had plenty of time and space to browse around. Wandering along, I was shocked when I noticed this Soma water pitcher peeking out at me from the top shelf in the kitchen section. I have had this same exact pitcher on my Amazon wish list for months and here it was waiting for me at Goodwill for only $2 (it retails for $40). Would it still be there if I waited until Saturday to shop? Probably not!

Tip #6: Donate something every time you go. Not only does this keep your home from becoming too cluttered, it’s also good thrifting karma to give as you get. I’ve been looking for a colorful, light-weight bag to add to my wardrobe for a while and I feel like this one might have been waiting for me as a reward this time for clearing out some old bags on my last visit. I love the unique clasp and bright colors. It’s so perfect for spring!

Tip #7: Learn the discounts. What day of the week do things get marked down at your local Goodwill? What’s the color of the week? Do seniors or veterans receive a discount? These are quick questions to ask staff that can help you save money. Some Goodwill stores even offer you a discount coupon when you make a donation! Keeping the color of the week in mind, I was able to get this bright Old Navy sweater for half-off. I love the weight and fit of it. It’s so flattering and will take the edge off of cooler spring days while still feeling cheery thanks to its lively color.

Tip #8: Check the return racks outside of the dressing rooms. These racks are filled with items that have caught the eye of other shoppers so they’re always stuffed with great pieces. It’s almost like someone has pre-shopped for you, selecting the cutest of the cute to try on. When clothes don’t fit just right or the color doesn’t work for the other shopper the way they had hoped, where does it go? On the return rack! Fantastic finds like this flowy Lauren Conrad blouse will often be hiding there so don’t pass it by. I really think this might be my new favorite shirt. It’s a favorite color of mine and the gold buttons make it feel so fancy!

Tip #9: Shop out of season! Years ago, I never would have dreamt I’d be buying this wooden Christmas tree in March, but I’ve since learned the merit of shopping out of season. So even though it’s springtime now and I’ve got pastels and picnics on the brain, I couldn’t pass by this perfect little tree with its rustic charm. How cozy will this look in December nestled amongst evergreen boughs with stockings hung nearby?

So that’s my latest thrift haul! I’m so in love with all of my finds and even more impressed with Goodwill’s commitment to sustainability. Shopping secondhand, reusing items and do-it-yourself projects are all a great way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s also more fun to find something unique at a Goodwill store and give it a second life.

What’s your sweetest Goodwill find?

by Rachael Kaminski, Internet Marketing and Events Coordinator

With today being Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share a little love for Goodwill. I’ve been a Goodwill shopper for quite some time now. My mom would take me shopping at the Grand Haven Goodwill store to pick out formal dresses for all my high school dances. She would spend months hand sewing thousands of beads onto the dress to make it one of a kind, unique, and absolutely perfect. My mother was quite the seamstress. She would take a bland dress and make it into work of art. I loved knowing that no one would have “my dress.” I never had to worry about having a fashion faux pas of who wore it best.

My most recent “sweetest” Goodwill find would be a mirror that I have above my mantle. I hate to pay full price for anything and with my love for crafting this was the perfect DIY project … and yes, it was project I did 100% by myself. I had to include that because DIY projects to many men means your wife coming home and saying “I saw this great idea on Pinterest,” ripping apart the house or pulling out every crafting supply and after a few hours of unsuccessfully “DIYing” calling out for help because your great idea turned into a “Pinterest fail.”

When I found this mirror, I knew it was a solid quality piece. The mirror was heavy, but the frame needed a little TLC. It looked like it had been a part of a vanity. There were four holes I filled with wall putty or spackle. Once it dried I sanded the frame down and used a chisel to chip away some of the wood to give the distressed appearance. I then painted the frame turquoise and further distressed it after it was painted. I think it turned out great!

The sweetest Goodwill find I have ever heard about was what Joyce Kinstner found 15 years ago at the Whitehall Goodwill store. She met her husband! I don’t know if there is a sweeter Goodwill find story. It just goes to show that you never know what you may find at Goodwill!

Do you have a sweetest Goodwill find you would like to share? Please post a photo of your treasure on our Facebook timeline and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $35 Goodwill gift card! Share the love, but don’t hesitate! Today is the last day to participate in our contest. Happy Valentine’s Day!

New tax season= New options

By Carl Lewis, Tax Preparation Coordinator

Another tax season is rapidly approaching and we are gearing up to serve the community. Each year it is a challenge to serve the increasing demand, but it’s also a very rewarding experience to be a part of an effort that positively impacts so many people and families in West Michigan.

Last year, our dedicated Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers filed nearly 3,000 federal and state tax returns, and returned more than $3 million to the community!

Recruiting VITA volunteers continues to be a challenge. This year, thanks to a generous grant from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, we were able to offer eligible college students – many studying finance or accounting – a $500 stipend each for their efforts. Thanks to some helpful collaborative professors at MCC and Baker, we were able to recruit 15 new volunteers through this initiative.

All of our tax preparers must be thoroughly trained and pass an IRS certification test. It has been a pleasure to train and share my experience with others. Knowing how to do taxes is a valuable life-long skill!

Also new this year is a “drop and go” full-service option. Filers meet with an intake specialist to deliver necessary documents and pick up their completed returns a week later. This eliminates wait time and gives volunteers more flexible work hours and an opportunity to work at their own pace.

Helping people with their taxes also presents opportunities for us to help and advise people on their overall financial wellness. Goodwill’s MoneyWorks financial services can help people achieve their financial goals, such as owning their own home or getting out of debt.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact me at (231) 722-7871, ext.1071 clewis@goodwillwm.org

For more information on VITA, including a list of tax site locations and hours, visit www.vitawestmichigan.org

Ship your oversized donation (or Goodwill purchase) for free!

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Goodwill has partnered with Roadie to offer free pickup and delivery to-and-from Goodwill for new Roadie customers. Originally the offer was $20 off, but after the first week of the promotion that began Jan. 3, Roadie upped the ante to $62 (!!) … or the full cost of most local Goodwill pickup and deliveries.

To get started, visit; www.roadie.com To redeem your $62 discount, enter promo code GOODWILL.

Still Confused? Here’s a brief Q and A to help clarify things …

First of all, what the heck is Roadie?

Roadie is the first on-the-way delivery network. (Think Uber, only for your stuff!)

Roadie connects people who have items to send, with drivers heading in the right direction. Roadie’s model enables efficient, low-cost delivery for senders and rewards drivers for trips they were already taking. It’s quickly becoming the go-to delivery solution for large, out-of-the-box, or delicate items.

When Did Roadie Launch?

Roadie launched in the Southeast in January 2015, and became available in all 50 states in March 2015.

What types of items can I send?

You can send donations big and small, like furniture, appliances, clothing or household supplies. Goodwill cannot accept certain items, including CRT televisions or computer monitors, mattresses, cribs and other items due to the high cost of disposal and stringent government regulations.

For a full list of accepted items, visit www.roadie.com/Goodwill

How long will discounted shipping to/from Goodwill last?

The promotion will run from January 3 through February 28, 2017.

Will Roadie provide a receipt for donated goods?

Goodwill will send donors a receipt of donation within 60 days. You can also check the My Gigs tab in your Roadie account for a list of every Goodwill Gig you’ve sent through Roadie.

Why is Roadie partnering with Goodwill?

Roadie is proud to make it easier for people donate to Goodwill, give back to their communities, and help create jobs nationwide.

Those clothes you no longer wear, the antiques you no longer need, even furniture — anything you consider clutter could help Goodwill provide programs and services to help people find jobs.

Decorating for fall

By Rachael Crevier, Internet Marketing, and Events Coordinator

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With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away now is the time to update your home decor. If you’ve been reading any of my blogs you’ve probably noticed that I always say I’m on a budget and unfortunately in the last year and half that hasn’t changed. On the bright side, Goodwill has the most affordable home and holiday décor pieces to accentuate anyone’s style from shabby chic to modern, vintage to country, eclectic to nautical, and everything in between.

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Redecorate your kitchen by adding accents of warm fall tones like oranges, reds, burgandy, and greens.

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Goodwill is a great place to find unique décor for any room in your house.

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Texture adds a lot of character to interior design. Change up your look by adding some new candles, decorative jars or baskets. Don’t love the color but love the design? Spray paint works wonders.

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Check out this amazing piece of pottery! This one-of-a-kind piece of would be perfect on a mantle or coffee table.

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Faux flowers and plants may be intimidating but with a little inspiration, they can be transformed into a beautiful fall wreath your friends and family will envy!

Check out this tutorial by Good House Keeping. Deck your door with a maple wreath. You can quickly DIY this cute piece with branches from your yard or faux leaves from Goodwill. http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/craft-ideas/how-to/a25869/maple-wreath-diy/

Decorating your home for fall is a fun, creative, and cost-effective project for you and your family to enjoy. Check out your local Goodwill – you never know what you may find!

For more DIY home and holiday décor inspiration visit our Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/goodwillwm/