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Goodwill cautions against fraudulent charities and for-profit collection bins

January 2, 2013
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

Late December and early January are traditionally the busiest time of year for charitable donations, as people search for last-minute tax deductions and make room for new holiday gifts. As donation season peaks, Goodwill is reminding donors to consider carefully the manner in which they donate used clothing and other household items.

Southwest Florida is among a host of areas nationwide that are seeing the sudden appearance of unattended collection bins. While some are owned by bona fide charities, many actually benefit for-profit organizations. It is important that donors make an informed choice and know to whom they are giving.

People assume that they're making a charitable donation when they drop items in a collection box, but that's not always the case. Many of these boxes have catchy slogans about helping the environment, but most of the donation boxes we've seen in our area aren't owned by nonprofits at all.

Only donations made to IRS-approved nonprofit organizations are tax-deductible. Donors can make sure their donations are benefiting the people who need them most by researching the organization accepting the donation. Sample questions to ask include:

- Will my donation be used to support a cause I believe in?

- What percentage of the revenues generated by my donation will directly support the mission of the organization?

- If the collection bin is owned by a for-profit organization, will my donation help people in need in our area?

Goodwill also encourages donors to leave donations at sites with attendants on duty, and reminds donors to keep itemized lists of their donations. Goodwill provides receipts to donors at its drop-off sites, and attendants can validate itemized lists when they are presented.

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. operates 26 Retail & Donation Centers in Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, and Glades counties to provide funding for its mission of helping people with disabilities and other disadvantages become more independent. Supported programs include Job-Link resource centers, transportation assistance, income-sensitive housing for people with disabilities and senior citizens, and the Goodwill L.I.F.E. Academy, a Lee County charter school for students with developmental disabilities.

For more information about Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, please visit

Kirsten O'Donnell

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida.



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