When dropping off used clothes to a donation bin, a sense of gratitude may wash over you knowing you’ve just helped out your community. But this isn’t always the case with donation bins in Durham Region. In fact, a number of donation bins spread across the community belong to an organization called Eagle County Community Association (ECCA) that is not clear about what it does with these donations.
ECCA boasts the slogan “Helping community one piece of clothing at a time,”, but there is no Eagle County “community” in Canada.
But there are non-profit organizations with bins that do provide in-depth information for their donors about how they use donations.
Organizations such as The Salvation Army, Goodwill and Canadian Diabetes Association Clothesline program all use the donations they receive to help the community in different ways.
“We’re always in need of donations. We use all of them, whether it’s through recycling or putting them out into our stores to generate funds for giving back to The Salvation Army,” said Madisyn McKee, national communications specialist for The Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army takes its collected donations, sells them in its thrift stores and after operating costs, uses that revenue to benefit the community through various programs. The agency served 2.8 million free meals and helped more than a million people with clothing, food and practical assistance, according to its most recent annual review.
Other organizations such as Goodwill are similar in nature. Goodwill receives 10 per cent in government funding and the remaining 90 per cent comes solely from donations.
But it’s facing tough times.
Goodwill’s Ajax location shut down in October 2013 due to the outlet under-performing. Two locations in Scarborough were shut down the same year, although one was forced to close due to renovations.
In addition to its donation boxes, the Canadian Diabetes Association also offers a pick-up service where employees pick up donations from the community.
“We offer a free door-to-door pick-up, we’ll come straight to your house and pick up donations,” said Kristiina Loorand, Clothesline operations manager in Durham.
The Clothesline program in Durham Region sells its donations to Value Village to be retailed, and uses the profits for funding the non-profit Canadian Diabetes Association.
Multiple municipalities across Ontario have passed by-laws regulating donation boxes.
They usually require organizations with donation boxes to have signage posted that includes a working phone number, email and the organization’s name.
There were complaints about donation boxes in Durham Region in 2014, thought it’s not clear whether they were ECCA boxes. However municipalities have been able to deal with them individually, according to an official with the city of Pickering, who says a by-law will only be passed when a municipality can no longer do anything.
The signage on donation bins is to help provide donors with information about where their donations are going and how they will be used.
“Our donation bins have our charitable organization number on them and I think that’s something all donors need to be aware of, where their donations go and where their money goes,” said Loorand.
The ECCA has no website or online presence. No one had responded to an email and voicemails left on the phone number provided on their donation bins.