Some Facts about Goodwill Industries

By Phineas Upham

There are two organizations out there that strive to do good in the world by providing jobs and a helping hand to get people back on their feet. Goodwill is one of them. It’s a 501c3 non-profit corporation that offers job training and placement services to those in need. The company also works with people who have disabilities, veterans and individuals who have had a hard time finding quality education and good job experience.

Goodwill gets most of its funding through retail operations. It owns and operates several non-profit thrift stores across the United States, working to defy the common convention of a single line of profit. The company strives for what it calls the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and performance.

Goodwill operates in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Panama and Uruguay to name the major ones. Of its estimated $4 billion in retail profits, 82% is estimated to be paid out to employees on its payroll. This provides jobs for around 4 million people.

The entire operation began in 1902, when the Reverend Edgar J Helms saw the opportunity to provide for his congregation. He began taking trips into wealthier neighborhoods and picking up discarded clothing and furniture. He then paid poorer individuals to mend and repair them for wear. Helms would either give the products to those in need, or to those who helped to repair them.

In essence, Goodwill began life as a cooperative and converted into a non-profit. The mission never strayed far, but Helms built a solid foundation for sustainable giving.


Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Twitter page.

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