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The Goodwill Effect: Organization’s
Benefits Ripple Through Local Economy

Goodwill shoppers expect bargains. To them, purchasing an item worth three times what they paid for it would be no surprise. But many are probably unaware that by supporting Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, they — along with donors — are part of a virtuous cycle that pays a threefold economic dividend to their community.

In fact, a 2015 university assessment of the local Goodwill found that for every dollar the organization spends, an additional $3.30 in benefits is created in the 48 counties it serves. It also found that Goodwill accounts for $476 million in annual business revenue.

“Our research efforts clearly show that Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee is an important player in the regional economy. A half-billion dollar economic impact through its operations and Goodwill Career Solutions was a real eye-opener for us,” said Dr. Murat Arik, director of Middle Tennessee State University’s Business and Economic Research Center,

But Arik, who authored the study, hastened to add that Goodwill’s actual impact on the regional economy is probably even more substantial.

We only scratched the surface,” he said, noting that the assessment did not measure Goodwill’s role in moving people off welfare and into gainful employment, reducing recidivism through training and providing employment opportunities for people getting out of jail, or improving the environment through recycling and salvage operations.

The local Goodwill provides free training and employment opportunities for people struggling to find and keep jobs for a wide variety of reasons, such as disabilities, criminal records or lack of computer skills, and to others simply wanting to advance their careers. This mission is funded through the sale of donated goods in Goodwill’s retail stores.

In 2015, the agency helped more than 14,000 people find jobs. The vast majority went to work with other employers in Middle and West Tennessee. The prior year, 9,558 were placed into jobs. 

The effect of those 2014 job placements — including salaries earned by formerly unemployed people, the impact of their spending and resulting sales taxes collected by the state — were included in MTSU’s calculations, along with Goodwill’s direct hires and salaries.

Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee President and CEO Matthew Bourlakas said the study validated what Goodwill leadership has long suspected about the organization’s impact on the economy:

“Goodwill is much more than a non-profit and social enterprise. It’s an economic engine that propels businesses and communities forward while giving a hand up, rather than a handout, to those individuals who need it most,” he said.

Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee is a 59-year-old organization serving half of Tennessee’s counties in a territory stretching from Cookeville to Union City. It is one of five independently operated Goodwills in the state.

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The complete, 65-page economic impact assessment of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee can be viewed here:

More information on Goodwill’s impact can be found here in our Annual Report:

MTSU Study Highlights:

$476 million
Amount Goodwill accounts for in business revenue across Middle and West Tennessee.

Number of jobs Goodwill is responsible for across its territory, including external job placements and its own employees, which number more than 2,100.

$277 million
Amount of wages and salaries associated with Goodwill’s jobs and external job placements each year. Goodwill spends about $77 million annually. This means each dollar spent by Goodwill creates $3.30 in benefits to local communities

$21 million
Amount of taxes and fees for state and local governments generated by Goodwill.

$100 million
Amount of wages and salaries generated by Goodwill in Davidson County alone. Goodwill also creates business revenues of about $162 million and is involved in the employment of 4,200 people in the county.

11 percent
Goodwill’s share of employment impact in the non-profit sector of the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical Area. Goodwill accounts for 5 percent of business revenue impact in that sector.

The number of jobs Goodwill is expected to contribute to annually by 2024, including direct employment and external placements. That number is a 62 percent increase over current employment impact.

$717 million
Total annual business revenue forecast to be created or stimulated by Goodwill by 2024.

— By Chris Fletcher
Prior to joining Goodwill as its PR & Communications Manager in 2014, Fletcher was a professional journalist for
more than 25 years working at media outlets in three states, including the Associated Press.

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