Recently, it came out that Goodwill Omaha is paying a number of its board members over $100,000 a year and that CEO Frank McGree is making $250,000 a year. It’s a $30-million-dollar organization that has over 600 employees, so those salaries aren’t too crazy, considering. But there is also evidence that they pay many of their employees, namely those with disabilities, less than minimum wage.
The World-Herald report that brought all of this to light makes Goodwill Omaha sound like an organization that borrows too much inspiration from the for-profit world. And the responses from both the CEO and the board have made it look like nobody in the organization knows what anyone else is doing. In short, they weren’t able to answer tough questions from the press.
The big mistake that Goodwill Omaha made is that they didn’t answer questions asked from the World-Herald. As Nonprofit Quarterly points out, investigative reports that get stonewalled tend to turn mean. The whole thing is an abject lesson in the importance of communication.
People who read the report are justifiably upset with what seems like some pretty shady practices by Goodwill Omaha. Whether these allegations prove to be true or not, it’s going to hurt the organization. But it’s their own fault because even if they’re not doing anything wrong, they still failed to communicate with the press. The lesson to be learned is that you have to be able to communicate with reporters and others outside of your organization if you want to put forth a good public image.
The other lesson is that you need to have clear communication within your organization as well. It really does seem like, regardless of the truth of the allegations, Goodwill Omaha didn’t have good enough internal communication to either prevent unethical actions or to simply respond to allegations of them. Neither of these scenarios is good, especially in nonprofits, where public trust is an absolute necessity.