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Goodwill delivers for communities in stores and online
“Goodwill is not just retail stores. We're not just the place you go when you believe in sustainability and don't want to buy new clothes. We're much more than that. Our network provides people with opportunities to empower themselves through learning and the power of work.” That’s how Ceri Danheux, Goodwill’s Chief Information and Technology Officer describes the life-changing mission of one of the country’s most beloved social services organizations.
Goodwill Industries International (GII) is a network of 155 autonomous community-based organizations, called members, that sell donated goods to fund career navigation and skills training to help people create, earn, and learn job opportunities in their local communities.
With over 3,300 Goodwill outlets and retail stores, there's a brick-and-mortar Goodwill within 10 miles of 82% of this country’s population. Local Goodwill organizations also sell donated goods online through shopgoodwill.com and goodwillfinds.com.
Based in Rockville, Md., outside Washington, D.C., Goodwill serves people in the U.S. and Canada and has a presence in 12 other countries.
The GII network provides career services to roughly 2 million people every year, delivering positive social and environmental outcomes by diverting usable goods from landfills and selling them. GII provides career navigation, skills training, job placement and other community-based services such as English language training, financial education, industry credentials, resume preparation, and access to reliable transportation and childcare.
In 2021, more than 123,000 people were placed in jobs in the U.S. with help from their local community Goodwill. The organization’s career training extends across industries, including banking, IT and healthcare, to name a few.
“Goodwill's reach and mission is driving us to be ahead of the game in technology,” Danheux recently told BOSS.
When Danheux joined the organization as vice president of digital services in 2020, she was tasked with evaluating and transforming GII’s manual processes into an enhanced digital user experience. “Historically, our organization hasn’t been able to invest to keep technology up to date, which has caused a mixture of antiquated systems and manual workarounds for both GII and some of our local members.”
As CIO/CTO, Danheux is accountable for defining the organization’s technology road map and to enhance the digital experience for member services and GII. As such, she partners closely with GII’s other business groups, including finance, legal, marketing, learning and development, data analytics and insights mission, and partnership and operations.
“It’s crucial that we have user-friendly and protected platforms to serve our employees, whether they are a member employee or GII employee on the retail end,” she said. The creation of efficient systems in place to effectively take donations, price items, calculate sales and measure success is critical both to the operation of Goodwill’s retail ops, and for great customer experience.
Local Goodwill member support, mission, and retail operations exist independently of each other and of GII. To meet the needs of their local communities, each local Goodwill organization designs its own programs and services to help people find work near where they live. “Since Goodwill provides career navigation and skills training to millions of people each year, and many of these use both in person and virtual services, creating a shared processing technology is a challenge,” she explained.
It's also critical for GII to provide the same level of care to their participants. Danheux’s goal is to understand the local member requirements and identify the areas to leverage, share, and enhance user experience by designing and implementing technology solutions that reduce the total cost of ownership for the network – not just for individual members or GII.
The organization strives to collaborate as a network when it comes to case management, brand and content management, learning and training, data gathering, statistical analysis, and cybersecurity. Danheux added, “I also have plans to expand our support capabilities into ERP and point of sale best practices. That's in the future.”
To ensure an equitable impact on their workforce development services, Goodwill needed an effective and efficient case management system to replace their 18-year-old custom in-house system. After making a thorough evaluation of what it would take to implement a world class case management system, they did so. “I am so excited and proud that we now have more local members and users on this new system within a year of the program kickoff, which is more than the usage in our old technology,” she enthused.
Each of the organization’s 155 members operate with their own business processes, technology, and systems. Danheux is tasked with identifying, implementing, and leveraging technologies for them – without ownership or control of their funding. “It's a challenge for me to find solutions that can meet a majority of the local members' needs while also reducing the total cost of ownership.” Clearly, Danheux has a gift for understatement.
Delivering mission services across the unique independents is another formidable challenge. While some can fund mission services primarily through their retail operations, others rely on supplements from private and public grants. To add to the complexity of the network, each member applies their own approach to the delivery of mission services and programs. This mélange of different business processes and support strategies requires flexible and scalable technology to meet their unique requirements. “I need to be able to support the different programs, different business processes, and different funding mechanisms and programs.” she noted.
“There's no way we could accomplish these goals without strong partners and vendors,” she stressed. Their top tier strategic business partners and technology vendors include, but are not limited to, Google, Coursera, Microsoft, Accenture, Comcast, Bank of America, Caterpillar, Lowe’s, USAA, and Indeed. They provide funding, in-kind resources like scholarships, and professional expertise for foundational and career level digital skills and professional certificates.
“We've partnered with a select few technology partners to build shared value propositions and leverage our scale so we can lower costs and shorten time to implementation for our members,” she added. In addition to their shared case management platform, GII recently invested in a learning management system and a digital asset management system capable of providing access to its entire network of over 120,000 users. “Partnerships really are key to building and costing to scale for us.”
A recent partnership with a new tech vendor will result in a modern, scalable solution that functions as a one-stop shop for all 155 members. “We need one place to interact with the entire network of over 120,000 employees, and I want them to log in once and get access to all these shared resources,” she said. The world-class solution will facilitate collaboration between GII and its members, as well as member to member collaborations
“I believe that investing in technology foundations enhances the user experience and allows us to focus our attention on our core competencies,” she stressed. “It’s an extremely exciting time for us because we are investing in this journey to upgrade to evergreen solutions that create value and add services to our members and their life improving mission services.”
“You can't bring 155 members together and really share the impact of that network without a strong data foundation and without the ability to understand the statistical analysis of that data and be able to share it,” Danheux concluded. “If we connect everything together, imagine how much stronger the network will be.” For 120 years, Goodwill has been an agent for change by strengthening lives and communities – and truly is America’s very good neighbor.
Goodwill Industries is all about people working.
We are North America’s leading nonprofit provider of education, training, and career services for people with disadvantages, such as welfare dependency, homelessness, and lack of education or work experience, as well as those with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. In 2020, local Goodwill organizations collectively provided employment and training services to almost 22 million individuals.
We believe that work has the power to transform lives by building self-confidence, independence, creativity, trust and friendships. Everyone deserves a chance to have these. Goodwill provides that chance.
Considering working at Goodwill? Goodwill is nonprofit brand that is respected and highly relevant in today’s economy. Forbes recently named Goodwill one of the "Top 25 Most Inspiring Companies."
15810 Indianola Drive
Rockville, Md., 20855
Homepage Link: https://www.goodwill.org/