Is It Better To Donate To Goodwill Or Salvation Army?

It’s always good to give your old items to a charity. But sometimes you may be torn between donating to either Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Don’t worry, we can help. Read on to see a comparison of the two companies and learn which one is better for you to give donations to.

Is It Better to Donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army

Many people choose to donate their clothing and belonging to both Goodwill and Salvation Army. Both organizations have long been known for their charitable contributions. For some people, distinguishing the differences between Goodwill and Salvation Army is tough. Also challenging is deciding which of the two organizations is better to donate to.

The critical difference is that Goodwill is a nonprofit organization, and Salvation Army is a charity. Of the two organizations, Salvation Army is the best to donate to. Salvation Army is the best to donate because the clothing, money, and goods do directly to those in need. Goodwill certainly helps those in need, but there is also a number of executives that earn money from the sales of donated clothing and goods.

In this article, we will explore the difference between the two and explain why Salvation Army is better to donate to.This will help make it so that you aren’t so divided between the two.

What Is Goodwill?

Goodwill is a nonprofit organization that got its name back in 1905. When someone donates an item or items to Goodwill, it is sold at a low price. The concept behind that is that people of low income have the opportunity to get affordable clothing and goods.

One of the things that Goodwill is known for is their efforts to create jobs. Recent numbers show that they have 105,000 employees, which helps support the economy. Despite all of the good that Goodwill has going for it, some people are critical of the way they work. For example, although it is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, not all of the money Goodwill brings in goes to the less fortunate. In recent years, their CEO earned just shy of $730,000 a year, which upset some regular donators.

With that said, not all of the money they earn goes to the CEOs. Besides paying their staff and executives, Goodwill does donate a lot of money to programs to help the less fortunate. As recently as 2014, for example, 83% of Goodwill’s earnings were donated to charity. When you donate to Goodwill, you certainly are helping the less fortunate.

What Is Salvation Army?

Salvation Army is a charity dating back to 1865. They accept donations of all kinds, whether it be food, clothing, money, or your time. Salvation Army is known for having a loose network of volunteers working their drives and thrift stores that work on a volunteer basis.

Salvation Army is the clear choice for many people as to what is better to donate to compared to Goodwill. Besides just distributing donated goods to the less fortunate, Salvation Army has a number of programs that help and support those in need.

Some of those programs include:

  • Adult addiction rehabilitation programs
  • Refuge centers
  • Food donation pantries
  • Hostels for homeless people
  • Schools for children

Why Do People Choose Salvation Army Over Good Will?

The reason many choose Salvation Army over Goodwill is because of how much they give back. With all of the money and donated goods going into Salvation Army, it seems that all of it is disseminated to those that need it most. Much like Goodwill, Salvation Army does support the less fortunate by providing jobs as well.  Salvation Army was essentially based on the Methodist religion, but they offer support, shelter, and food to anyone no matter their religion.

Video: Goodwill or Salvation Army?

What Do Goodwill And Salvation Army Do With Donations?

Both Goodwill and Salvation Army sell donated items at an exceptionally low price so that the less fortunate can afford them. Generally, Salvation Army tends to sell clothing and goods for cheaper than Goodwill. Salvation Army and Goodwill also take donations of money. Donations of money are just as useful as donations of clothing or essential goods to both organizations. That is because that money goes directly to their support programs detailed above.

In large cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, for example, Salvation Army has centers that regularly feed and even house homeless people. That is the direct result of monetary donations as well as revenue from the sale of donated items.

Funding Of Their Programs

Now, Goodwill claims to donate 85% of its earnings back to programs and charities. Look at 2015, where Goodwill brought in $5.5 billion. That would mean that they put $467,500,000 back into programs to help those in need.

Salvation Army, conversely, puts 82 cents of each dollar earned back into its programs. When compared to Goodwill, Salvation Army certainly has more programs that support the poor and underprivileged.

Salvation Army’s hostels for the homeless and free residential addiction treatment facilities do a lot for their communities. Some would argue that those programs do more for their communities, considering that addiction and homelessness go hand in hand.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration say that 35% of the homeless have addiction problems. Both Salvation Army and Goodwill have regionally operated locations, so the prices change from store to store. Salvation Army is generally considered the cheaper to shop at compared to Goodwill, so that is another factor in favor of Salvation Army.

How To Choose Where To Donate

Choosing between donating to Goodwill and Salvation Army is not as challenging as it may seem. In fact, contributing to both is a great idea. While Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores are widely available, some areas may only have one or the other.

Whether you donate your clothes and goods to Salvation Army or Goodwill, you know that someone will buy it cheaply. If you are looking to donate food or money, Salvation Army is a clear choice. That is because that money will directly go into their programs.

Both Stores Are Great Choices Regardless; You Can’t Go Wrong

Both Salvation Army and Goodwill do fantastic work with their companies and within the community. So, regardless of who you choose to donate to, there really is no ‘wrong’ choice. Goodwill creates jobs for disabled individuals and job training programs for the homeless and less fortunate. Without a store to operate, these things wouldn’t exist.

Likewise, Salvation Army runs a more extensive variety of programs that could not function without the support of donations. So, when you choose a store to donate to, don’t feel like you ‘picked the wrong one’ because there is no such thing. No matter what you do, you’re helping the less fortunate.

What Kind Of Donations Does Each Organization Accept?

Salvation Army and Goodwill both accept many types of donations.


Salvation Army

  • Pianos and organs in good shape
  • Treadmills/weights/bikes
  • Clocks/radios/lamps
  • Stoves/washers and dryers/fridges
  • Computers and laptops without CRT monitors
  • Clothing and linens
  • Gardening tools
  • Money

Salvation Army and Goodwill both inspect donated items for quality. Depending on the location and personnel you deal with, what a particular location of either store accepts will vary.

Unaccepted Items

Specifically, Salvation Army asks that you be considerate about donating things in good shape because they have to pay to dispose of damaged goods. Neither Goodwill nor Salvation Army will accept donations of items that have been recalled.

It is also worth noting that neither organization can accept TVs or computers with CRT screens because they contain toxic materials. However, if they ever do, be careful of purchasing electronics from here. For instance, a second-hand store may be able to sell a TV that keeps blinking. You won’t know until you’ve already bought it, although you could always fix it.

Related Questions

Does goodwill wash their clothes?

Some locations wash their donated clothing, and others don’t. However, it’s always a good idea to wash the clothing as soon as you bring it home. This is because others have tried it on, maybe it’s fallen on the floor, or perhaps it wasn’t washed. This goes for any store you shop at, especially any consignment store.

Can you haggle at Goodwill?

You cannot negotiate over the prices at Goodwill. Goodwill has a mixture of both used items as well as new. So since they pay for their merchandise, they expect to make a certain amount back to be able to continue bringing in the new items. If you want to purchase something you feel is too expensive, check out their sticker sales. They have deals every week of the month, some that only charge 50 cents for an item.

Do Goodwill employees get a discount?

Goodwill employees will receive a 20% discount on the items they purchase within the store and donation centers. This discount is included on top of any sticker sales they have going on. This is a great incentive to work at Goodwill.

What Did We Learn?

Donating to either Goodwill or Salvation Army is a good thing and does help those in need. However, of the two, Salvation Army is the best to donate to because of all of the ways they give back.

If you want to make sure that your money goes to support programs, choose Salvation Army. Of course, Goodwill does funnel money into programs as well. Salvation Army jus has more programs of their own that help the community greatly.

Ultimately, both organizations help to support the less fortunate in their respective communities. Salvation Army is just a safer bet if you want to know exactly where the money from your donations is going to. Before donating to either organization, make sure the items are in good condition. It feels great to help others.

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