CBS4 News Boston investigates used clothes company Planet Aid

CBS4 News Boston investigates used clothes company Planet Aid

One of the easiest ways to give to charity is to donate
your old clothes. But as Joe Shortsleeve shows us tonight, you just may be surprised where your cast-off items go, and who is making money from your generosity. Donating old clothes to what you think is
a worthwhile charity. Goodwill Industries of Massachusetts created
that formula more than a hundred years ago. Clothes are resold at bargain prices,
and proceeds are funneled into things like job training programs. We think we maximize the value for the community. The used clothing industry is changing. Companies like Planet Aid don’t give the clothes to needy families. They sell them for a profit.
Then they give a portion of that money to charity. This year, through this facility, we’ll run
about 25 million pounds — through here. Planet Aid is a thriving business based in Holliston [Massachusetts]. It started ten years ago with just ten boxes in Massachusetts. There are now 2200 in about a dozen states. A percentage of their proceeds funds
projects in Third World countries. They defend their business model. We believe that we can make more money without
carrying the overhead of an enormous retail chain. We sent Daniel Borochoff, of the American
Institute of Philanthropy, Planet Aid’s most recent financial statements. He wasn’t impressed. It’s really similar to a model of like a corporation
that would then give a portion of its profits to charity, rather than the other way around. Critics are also troubled by the fact that
Planet Aid only contributes to its own charities, so tracking the money is virtually impossible. If you’re doing such good work, why would
you decline to be evaluated by the Better Business Bureau? We don’t decline. We are
in the process of filing with them. But the Better Business Bureau still isn’t happy. They say Planet Aid, after delays, ultimately did
file some documents, but not enough to be properly evaluated. A box isn’t a box, necessarily. Places like Goodwill want contributors to
realize just how valuable those old clothes can be. It’s important for folks to be as careful with their donations of clothing and household goods as they are with their donations of dollars. Because one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Joe Shortsleeve, CBS 4 News.

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  1. For the latest media reports about charity fraud and related concerns, our news-feed is:

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