Debunking the myths about Goodwill

Every holiday season, a myth or two pops up about Goodwill. Whether it’s family or friends or people on social media, some misinformation is bound to be spread, along with holiday cheer. If you’re confused about what you’re seeing and want to know the truth, we’re here to set your straight.

Think Before you donate graphic is full of Goodwill Myths

Goodwill Myths

We’re addressing Goodwill myths you may have heard or read about, and we’re sharing only facts regarding Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio. We encourage you to do your own research on reputable sites, such as

Myth: Goodwill is a for-profit company.

This is the biggest rumor we hear, and it is not true. Goodwill is a 501C3 or not-for-profit organization. Any ‘profits’ generated in our stores are reinvested back into our Mission. Like numbers and statistics?

Looking for information about Goodwill or other nonprofit organizations from an independent source? Visit, which posts financial records and independent reviews of charities. We currently have a “Gold Participant” seal from this site, an indication that we are committed to transparency and good stewardship.

Myth: Goodwill is owned by Mark Curran who makes millions of dollars in salary each year.

This graphic circulates a lot on social media. This is not true. The President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio is Anne Richards, a northeast Ohio native who works at the Canton office. No CEO in the Goodwill system has ever made millions of dollars as an annual salary. Ever. Mark Curran has never owned Goodwill or worked for Goodwill Industries.

The CEO of Goodwill Industries International is Steven Preston and he reports to a volunteer board of directors.

Myth: Goodwill is run by an international corporation.

As mentioned above, Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio is an independent organization. It is run by local employees and a Board of Directors made up of local business and community leaders. 

There are more than 162 independent Goodwill organizations. Your Goodwill serves the 10-county territory of Cuyahoga, Geauga, a portion of Lake, Stark, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Harrison and Jefferson counties in Ohio and Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia.

Myth: You shouldn’t donate to Goodwill because they don’t help anyone. 

Goodwill was founded by Edgar J. Helms with the philosophy of “a hand up, not a handout.” This mission is still true today. Goodwill doesn’t just give help to someone once, we believe in teaching people the skills they need to find sustainable success, whatever that may mean to the individual person.

In 2022 alone, your Goodwill helped more than 18,600 people in our community find jobs and improve their quality of life. Learn more about our services or take a minute to watch Anthony’s story. 

Myth: Goodwill pays people with disabilities pennies per hour. 

Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio has NEVER paid employees less than minimum wage. It is against our values and what we stand for. We’re proud to share that all employees make $12.10 per hour or more regardless of ability.

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 have used these in the past. Again, your Goodwill has never used this certificate and always paid employees fair wages.

Myth: Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio turned away a person with a disability from our stores.

There’s a viral Facebook rumor about a man named Ryan Muncy who said Goodwill wouldn’t give a person with a disability sweatshirts and work boots. This incident didn’t happen in any of our Goodwill stores. Your Goodwill is an independent nonprofit, and we have programs specially designed to help people (of any ability) into stability.

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

Goodwill has a strict policy against employees purchasing items before they reach the sales floor. There is a waiting period before items can be purchased. Violations of this policy may result in termination.

Myth: Goodwill charges for donated items they get for free and pockets the money.

Goodwill cycle of success infographic

Our prices help generate funding for our Goodwill programs that help people get back to work, strengthen families and much more. Now more than ever, people are looking to Goodwill for help.

Our prices also pay for the operations of our retail stores (keeping the lights on and paying our employees) and the Ken Weber Community Campus that helps support multiple other nonprofits by lower overhead so they can focus funds on their mission.  

With every purchase or donation, YOU make the Cycle of Success possible.

Myth: Goodwill stores are only for people of low income. 

This is not true. Anyone can shop at Goodwill. In fact, anytime you shop at Goodwill and find a good deal for yourself you do a great deal more for the community. Goodwill runs on the donations of the community, and we try to price all donations at a fair market value based on the brand and condition of the item. We also sell brand new items in our store to supplement donations on the sales floor or offer specialty items such as Halloween accessories or makeup.

Learn the importance of Goodwill, from helping people in our community to shopping sustainably with fashion and holiday thrift tips on our blog.

Myth: Goodwill stores get everything for free, so they won’t lose money by discounting items.

We appreciate all of the donations we receive. While yes, mostly all of our inventory is donated, we have a lot of expenses.

The rising costs of wages, utilities and rent have caused us, like many businesses to have to make tough decisions and revaluate all aspects of our business. This included discontinuing the Color of the Week discount.

But to replace it, we have added the Give Me Five discount, which offers customers $5 off $30, $10 off $60 and $15 off $90 pre-tax spending in a single transaction. You can learn more about it here.

Your support helps thousands of people in our community with vital services. Here are some stories of people in our community who were helped because you shopped and donated.

Contact Us

Hear another Goodwill myth or something else about us that doesn’t seem to add up? Email us at or direct message us on social media. We’re happy to talk about anything and everything we do. Once you know more about us, we’re sure you’ll be even more proud to shop or donate to Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio.

Should you choose to support Goodwill once you’ve done your research, you can make an online donation.

Thank you!