It All Adds Up

Try for a second to get your head around the number two billion. Well, since I just asked you for a second of your time to think about it, let's start there: two billion seconds roughly equals 63 years of a person's lifetime.

There are now thought to be in excess of seven billion people on this planet, but it wasn't until 1927 that two billion of us were alive at the same time.

The average annual salary of an American worker is just under $51,000. At that rate, it would take more than 39,000 years to earn two billion dollars. Uh, so that's not likely to happen, unless he or she creates the next Facebook.

What about weight? If you group all the different makes and models of cars together, you'll come up with an average vehicle weight of around 4,000 pounds. Doing the math on that shows you that it would take 500,000 cars to equal two billion pounds.

I think you're probably getting the picture: two billion is a whole bunch of anything.

Now try this on for size: what about two billion pounds of something that's NOT there? In this case, I'm talking about two billion pounds of used, usable goods that are not sitting in our nation's landfills.

Yeah, right, a whole bunch. And that's just how effective the Donate Movement has been in its first year of existence.

If you've read my previous blogs, you will recall that Goodwill Industries International launched the Donate Movement in June 2010 to help people understand the importance of donating items they no longer need.

And it's working. Consumers are making careful choices about the items they don't need, but that are still usable. When they donate those items to Goodwill, we sell them to people who want or need them. The money we raise from those sales -- $2.7 billion last year -- goes to fund valuable job training and community-based services for people who are having trouble finding a job. Last year we provided job training services to 2.4 million people, a 26 percent jump from 2009.

So that two billion pounds of used goods that aren't clogging up landfills have helped put 2.4 million people on the path toward self-sufficiency. That's what the Donate Movement is all about.

Others are taking notice. Major corporations such as Gap, Hanes, and Levi Strauss & Co are taking part. Family Circle and Planet Green are lending a hand as well. Recently, the Donate Movement was even nominated for a CLASSY Award. The CLASSY Awards are presented by StayClassy, an on-demand social fundraising platform for nonprofits. The CLASSY Awards have grown into the largest philanthropic awards contest in the country.

You can have your say in the awards. Public voting is open at until August 26. Just head over to the website, click on the "Most Effective Awareness Campaign by a Charity" category, and then vote for Goodwill Industries International.

Who knows, maybe we can get two billion votes! Then again, I probably won't count the seconds it takes to get there.

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