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Stakeholders in Goodwill’s Strategic Planning Process


Goodwill Industries is a USA-based social enterprise that leads community-based programs aimed to help people with multiple barriers to obtain a job. This hybrid not-for-profit organization has already helped millions of Americans and people abroad in its 118-year history. Goodwill’s network consists of 157 autonomous organizations operating in 12 countries (Goodwill, n. d.). Goodwill is a prominent example of a hybrid enterprise “that is formed as a not-for-profit and operates what we believe is a distinct, complex organizing form that we are calling the distributed social enterprise” (Gibbons & Hazy, 2015, p. 2). Its activity influences the life of many internal and external stakeholders, groups of people working within this organization, and its clients. The purpose of this paper is to identify stakeholders’ roles, in particular those of volunteers, and their impact on Goodwill’s strategic planning process. Suggestions for new strategic goals implementation will be also presented.

Mission and Activities

In general, Goodwill Industries operates to bring social change by assisting individuals with disabilities, lack of education, and those facing other obstacles preventing them from entering the labor market. With the organization’s assistance, such people can find a job, grow their careers, and consequently improve their lives. According to the mission statement, this social enterprise “works to enhance people’s dignity and quality of life by strengthening their communities, eliminating their barriers to opportunity…” (Goodwill, n. d.). It also helps such individuals to find out their talents, improve necessary skills, and acquire knowledge to reach their full potential through the process of learning. Local Goodwills hold job training programs, organize employment placement, and simultaneously sell donated items in their charity shops (Goodwill, 2019). The ability to incur generated money into the social programs maintains their self-sufficiency making the organization partially independent from external funding.

Goodwill’s Stakeholders

Goodwill Industries, as a mission-driven, private sector enterprise, has a wide range of stakeholders who expect it to be effective. Dicke et al. (2016) state that stakeholders of non-profit organizations are “individuals, groups, communities, governments, and others, that affect, or are affected by, one or more nonprofit organizations or the sector as a whole” (p. 1). Such groups can be differentiated as internal and external stakeholders. The former includes individuals who function within the organization and directly contribute efforts to accomplish the nonprofit’s mission. They are normally interested in the outcomes of an organization’s activities due to their own contributions. Thus, the list of internal stakeholders includes managers, staff members, funders, board members, volunteers, and large donors.

On the contrary, external stakeholders are groups of individuals that do not work directly within the organization. However, they usually interact or collaborate with such organizations as Goodwill Industries or Salvation Army. These people depend on the success of the organization and are usually affected by the activities it conducts. The list of external stakeholders is wide and can include collaborative organizations, community groups, clients, and government entities. In the case of Goodwill, the main external stakeholders would be customers seeking education, disadvantaged job seekers, those who want to be employed, and the public at large.


Goodwill Industries currently has seven goals consisting of both short-term and long-term aspects. The document Goals and Strategies 2016-2018 identifies main approaches and aspirations for developing the organization beyond the mentioned period. According to the first one, Goodwill strives to become a superior job preparation, career education, and training service in the community helping to curb high unemployment, poverty, and crime rates. Strategies include a “can do” approach, organizing educational, career, employment services in response to publicly-funded initiatives. The social enterprise aspires to retain the largest private employer of individuals with disabilities and maintain its role as an essential partner of private business and government. For instance, the organization works with the federal government on the Ability One program.

The next goal concerns the social enterprise’s business initiatives and plans to become the used and low-priced goods market leader to sustain Goodwill’s mission. In its turn, the fourth goal states that it is essential for the organization to have the best name recognition and reputation in comparison to similar services. To do that, Goodwill maintains proactive media relations, community partnerships, and applies targeted advertising. “Every mission-critical Employment and Training Service will be sustained, with or without government funding, through focused and ambitious fund development efforts” is goal number five (“Goals and Strategies 2016-2018”, n. d.). The sixth goal is to evolve into the best employer in the industry and create a working environment that would see talented employees engaged. The ultimate goal can be considered as the long-term one as it plans to survive in the future with the help of value-driven business practices, governance, leadership, and management.

The Role of Volunteers at Goodwill Industries

This organization is important to me personally because it makes the community a better place addressing social issues that were neglected by the governmental agencies. People with disabilities and other problems join Goodwill’s programs, find a job, and ultimately fulfill their natural need for social affiliation. From a professional perspective, I share the enterprise’s vision that every person has specific talents and skills which can be useful for society. Thus, I support this organization as it both assists people in need and enriches the national manpower.

Goodwill Industries offers a variety of volunteer opportunities in local and independent organizations. According to Sefora and Michaela (2016), volunteers are “a valuable resource of non-profit organizations activity and an important part of civil society development” (p. 996). The majority of non-profits rely on direct service and indirect support of the organization by people who want to help without pay. Management has to encourage volunteers to trust the organization’s leadership, mission, and activities effectiveness to enhance their commitment. The types of work volunteers usually perform at Goodwill include instruction, fundraising, tutoring, mentoring, retail, production, and working with donations.

The Strategic Planning Process

In general, effective engagement of volunteers, as internal stakeholders, into the strategic planning process transforms their needs into goals of the particular organization. Volunteers observe how the organization’s services work and interact with clients on an every-day basis. Moreover, they are those who receive both positive and negative feedback from the community members. Although volunteers enjoy a limited role in decision-making, their opinions should be considered by the board of directors.

For this reason, I can provide top management with feedback regarding organizational goals and mission. In this feedback, I would indicate organizational strengths and weaknesses, the most important strategic issues that the enterprise currently faces, and share my ideas to revise the existing strategy. Goodwill values their stakeholders and actively involves them in the strategic planning process. Thus, volunteers can contribute to the process by making inputs during meetings and through the surveys. Taking into consideration recent social movements against different kinds of discrimination, the organization’s strategic plan may be soon impacted by legal change regarding subminimum wages. The organization has been criticized for using the FLSA Section 14(c) certification to pay less for workers with disabilities (Friedman, 2019). This practice is viewed as unfair and unjust with respect to the latter; whereas its defenders state that those people would otherwise not have their jobs.


Goodwill Industries will become a national leader in terms of the minimum wage paid to workers with disabilities. I would suggest this goal as a response to the growing public criticism regarding the application of the FLSA Section 14(c). Although regulations allow this practice, Goodwill would benefit from taking the lead in the industry and advocate the legal change. The social enterprise should set a goal of becoming the e-commerce leader offering delivery of used goods from their shops/warehouses in the close future. This goal suggestion is inspired by recent practices the multinational companies introduced to address the changes to consumer behavior brought by COVID-19 pandemics. Online shopping has become the most convenient and safe way to purchase clothes and non-basic goods.

Moreover, Goodwill Industries should expand its operation to at least 50 countries in 5 years. I would suggest this mid-term goal because I believe more countries are in need to address unemployment issues by a similar non-profit actor. The people with disabilities living in developing countries especially need similar assistance and expertise, as their problems are usually neglected. For instance, the Salvation Army is present in 130 countries all over the world. Taking into consideration Goodwill’s organizational structure, gradual expansion is possible and would be beneficial.


To conclude, Goodwill Industries is a hybrid non-profit organization that provides disadvantaged job seekers with professional mentoring, training, and employment assistance. The social enterprise depends on its internal stakeholders and serves its external ones. Both groups of stakeholders are important for the organization’s survival and further development. The strategic plan designed for 2016-2018 is currently quite outdated and needs revision. Volunteers participate in meetings, surveys to provide their valuable feedback to the managers. To succeed, non-profits should consider ideas and suggestions of volunteers as they observe the quality of the organization’s activities in practice.


Dicke, L.A., Heffner, A., & Ratliff, P. (2016) Stakeholder perspective in nonprofit organizations. In Farazmand A. (Ed.), Global encyclopedia of public administration, public policy, and governance (pp. 1-8). Springer.

Donthu, N., & Gustafsson, A. (2020). Effects of COVID-19 on business and research. Journal of business research, 117, 284-289. Web.

Friedman, C. (2019). Ableism, Racism, and Subminimum Wage in the United States. Disability Studies Quarterly, 39(4). Web.

Gibbons, J., & Hazy, J. K. (2015). Growing a large-scale social enterprise: How Goodwill Industries succeeds as a hybrid organization. (Working Paper No. WSB-WP-2015-01). Web.

Goodwill Goals and Strategies 2016-2018 (n.d.). Web.

Goodwill Industries. (2019). International Annual Report 2018. Web.

Goodwill. About Us. (n.d.). Web.

Sefora, N. M., & Mihaela, T. T. (2016). Volunteers trust in organizational mission, leadership, and activities efficiency. Annals of the University of Oradea, Economic Science Series, 25(1), 995-1001.

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