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Thrift Shops for Charity

November 12, 1987

David Johnston's article, "Charity Thrifts" (Sept. 27), clearly indicates a great deal of investigation into the various types of second-hand, so-called "charity" businesses. This information is of great service to the public and the thousands of American Cancer Society volunteers in California.

However, I feel it essential to draw attention to the misinformation received by Johnston. The American Cancer Society resale shops, known as Discovery Shops and numbering 30 in the state, do not have trucks or paid drivers. We do have one paid manager assisting 65 volunteers in each shop.

Unlike the businesses in The Times article that give 10 cents on the dollar or less to the public's intended charity, our statewide requirement is a minimum of 60% net per shop after start up time. Some of our shops realize 70% net after all expenses.

I, also, do not feel the distinction of "profit" and "nonprofit" shops should be determined by where the money is spent. The Goodwill and Salvation Army spend their net proceeds on salaries for the handicapped working in their shops, so according to the article, are considered nonprofit. Because the American Cancer Society spends its income away from the shops on service to cancer patients and cancer research, are they then to be considered as operating for profit?

Because of the exemplary system by which our shops are operated, I went to Sacramento a few years ago at the request of the director of charitable trusts. This was to advise on how thrift shops should operate for a better return for the charity. The key is "the business is owned and operated by the charity," as are the American Cancer Society shops.

Information that would also be important for public awareness is that the American Cancer Society is in no way affiliated with the United Cancer Research Society or the Cancer Federation or any other thrift shops. We do not have paid phone solicitors or door-to-door pick up. If a donor has a concern, they should call any American Cancer Society office.

DENISE NOEL

California director of Discovery Shops

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