Ed Durkee, Nov. 21: Let’s be thankful, all year long

By ED DURKEE, Goodwill Central Coast CEO

The dinner table is about to be set, the turkey and the stuffing are ready, and the holiday season is officially upon us.

You give every holiday. You accept the personalized mailing labels, feel the hope of the heartwarming television ads and click the “donate now” button on the online requests that move you.

At Goodwill, our donations come mostly in the form of donated goods. The stuff you no longer want or need gets sold in our stores and brings value to a new owner while the revenue brings powerful changes in the lives of those we serve. Every time someone redecorates their house or cleans out their garage, we receive more bags of stuff. My guarantee to our donors is that we will use that stuff to create the best jobs and programs possible. To do this, we have modernized our distribution centers and created the safest, most efficient work environments that we can. We’ve also invested in the quality of our stores so both our shoppers and our employees benefit from Goodwill’s mission.

We view people who donate to Goodwill as investors in our social enterprise and we are constantly demonstrating our return on your investment. Come to Goodwill and everywhere you look you see the faces of those we serve. We are in the “change a life” business and it’s critical to always be reminded of these lives. In our stores, shoppers see posters and displays showcasing real Goodwill clients, people who have entered the workforce with the help of Goodwill and our donors. These are real people experiencing real change all through the very real power of work.

But what happens come January? Does your support of charities go the way of New Year’s resolutions — as appealing as sit-ups and treadmills as the year rolls on?

The end of the year is known as “the season of giving” and for good reason. Half of all charitable organizations receive the majority of their donations between October and December, according to a report by GuideStar, which tracks information about nonprofits.

The rest of the year, charities have to work even harder for your dollars, your time and your attention. It doesn’t have to be this way. Nonprofits can do a better job of cultivating a presence in donors’ lives year-round.

Donate your time. Join a board or a committee. Help plan the gala. Ask to look at your charity of choice’s financials. Keep us honest. We are duty-bound to fulfill the promises made to our communities. That means we need to take a hard look at our programs, and evaluate them in a very traditional business sense: Do they meet our stated objectives? Do they advance our cause? Do they help the people (or animals or movements) that our donors rely on us to help? Most of all, are we sustainable in a way that we can, over the long-term, keep the promises we have made to those we serve and reliably provide an “ROI” to our donors? 

You can make a big difference by having your charitable interest run alongside charitable operations — all year long. What you did during the holidays is just as critical as what you could do in March or August.

So please do make those year-end charitable contributions. They are essential in helping us serve the community. It feels great to get that community support. And then know that your support as a donor, a volunteer and community member are welcomed and valuable all year long.


Ed Durkee is the president and CEO of Goodwill Central Coast. His background includes administering the Workforce Investment Act for the State of Indiana, creating affordable housing as the president of a community development corporation in Indianapolis, and creating Prosperity Centers in both Oregon and California. His opinions are his own and not necessarily those of the Register-Pajaronian.


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