Should You Tip the Goodwill Guy?

Should You Tip the Goodwill Guy?

Short answer: no. But there are several other options to show your appreciation.

Every time I drive up to the local Goodwill outlet with a carload of old baby clothes and still-operational kitchen supplies, the employees practically sprint to the car. Within less than two minutes, the car is empty and I’m on my way. It’s hard not to have an overwhelming desire to tip the staffers for their hard work.

Unfortunately, it’s against Goodwill company policy to accept cash tips; most nonprofits have similar policies. So if a heartfelt “thank you” doesn’t feel like enough, try a few of these concepts that don’t involve legal tender:

Tip with movie tickets, food coupons, oil changes…

Tip your waitress, your valet, and your barber in cash. But when you don’t know if cash tips are accepted, or even customary, there are dozens of “tips” that don’t have presidential pictures on them. Stuff from work is easy—more times than I can count, I’ve given out my employee tickets for baseball games. If you don’t have anything easily exchangeable, and you know you’ll be visiting your favorite charity, pick up some movie pass vouchers or other freebies to pass along.

Bake some cookies

Why not? Everyone loves snacks, especially if they’re stuck for several hours at the Fun Run check-in table. Bring something easily shareable—nobody’s going to be passing around the tray of lasagna, no matter how great your recipe is. And one more thing: make sure you know the volunteers well… nobody wants to eat the tray of homemade brownies from the random stranger.

Nominate them for honors.

Do you know someone who devotes two hours a week to a cause? Ask their organization to nominate them for a President’s Volunteer Service Award! The special program began in 2003 to encourage the spirit of volunteerism throughout the United States. 100 hours of service annually will qualify a volunteer for a Bronze Level award, and 4,000 hours of service in a lifetime is rewarded with the President’s Call to Service Award. Award costs are negligible, but the honor is priceless.

Local recognition also can be a morale boost for individuals and groups. Keep an eye out for regional “Best Of” awards, and encourage friends and family to cast ballots for your favorite philanthropist.

Hire volunteers.

The best way to show appreciation to volunteers is to hire them. Many of us volunteer our time out of a desire to give back, or out of passion for a cause… but there are quite a few who are volunteering to gain work experience, or to fill in the resume gaps as they search for their next place of employment. The “Activities” section always ends up being placed at the bottom of resumes, but it offers very specific insight into how a prospective employee is involved in their community, and how much they value hard work… make sure it’s part of the conversation next time you’re making a hire!