Recently, a battle between nonprofit organizations sparked when Goodwill attempted to tighten the rules on collecting donations.
Goodwill, the largest nonprofit clothing distributor in the world, spearheaded efforts to pass Assembly Bill 1978 that could have restricted other nonprofits from placing collection bins on private property. However, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the legislation Friday, Sept. 28.
"I support the author's goal of giving property owners more tools to enforce their property rights," Brown said. "However I believe the language can be more narrowly crafted to avoid unintended consequences to local charities and nonprofits. I look forward to working with the author next year to craft a more balanced approach."
The bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) would’ve required charitable organizations and non-profits to get written consent from a property owner before placing a collection box on their property, a more restrictive policy then the current verbal or written approval needed from the business manager or owner.
However, charities like D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) saw AB 1978 as a way for Goodwill to squeeze out the competition.
"I hope Goodwill understands, and I think they do, others in the non-profit arena are not the enemy or even competitors," said John Lindsay, vice president of D.A.R.E. and former Palo Alto Police Department. "All of us in the nonprofit arena are trying to help those in need, those who need to be protected, and those with no voice."
Lindsay said he appreciated that Brown vetoed AB 1978 because it was't fair or balanced. The impact on D.A.R.E. in California would have been devastating.
"When one of our revenue streams like this is cut off it has a severe impact on our ability to deliver our D.A.R.E. program," Lindsay said. The City of Mountain View Police Department works with D.A.R.E. in its school drug prevention programs.
Cupertino Assemblyman Paul Fong who currently represents the 22nd district until Dec. 31, said—before the bill was vetoed—that the bill would've created a level of transparency and accountability and would've protect the rights of property owners.
Fong felt that if approved the measure would have assisted "our reputable charities such as Mountain View Goodwill to receive donations that may be given to some for-profit companies that place collection bins on properties in order to profit, without the donator’s knowledge.”
He thought other nonprofits needed to adjust and comply with the measure.
President and CEO of Goodwill Silicon Valley Michael Fox, Jr. said the Goodwill of San Joaquin Valley introduced this bill because of the proliferation of out of town for-profit companies dropping donation boxes in shopping centers in San Joaquin Valley and the state.
"Those donations are sold overseas and out of state and do not benefit the community that they are solicited," he said. "The boxes are depriving legitimate charities of donations that are needed to operate local services that benefit the community and create jobs."
But Lindsay said owners and tenants were rarely asked for permission to drop the boxes and permits were usually not filed. Tenants were under the impression that the landlord allowed the box.
D.A.R.E. has collection bins in the South Bay through its programs in Gilroy and Milpitas and obtains verbal permission from property manager every time they drop a donation bin.
If AB 1978 had been passed, non-profit organizations would have had to obtain written permission from the property owner, which Lindsay pointed out was a challenge since many California business property owners lived out of state and were difficult to contact.
On the other hand, Goodwill has the resources to hire lobbyists and public relation representatives to get a bill to the Governor and it wan’t fair to other nonprofits like D.A.R.E. who didn't receive federal funding, according to Lindsay.
Other nonprofit organizations like Campus California and D.A.R.E. collect donations in Mountain View at several locations would have been set back had the bill been passed. About 25 organizations opposed; while 12—half of which were Goodwill Industries—supported it.
If it had passed, the advantage for Goodwill would have been great because they commonly used tractor-trailer donation centers. However, nonprofits like D.A.R.E. used smaller bins, requiring them to request permission from every property owner for bin they drop.
Lindsay remained optimistic any future legislation brought forward by any non-profit would be collaborative and take into consideration one simple fact.
"We are all in this together and working together we can accomplish so much more," he said.