True Friends, a charity that for six years has allowed the corporate parent of Value Village to collect donations of clothes and household items in its name, on Wednesday said it’s cutting ties with the company after the Minnesota Attorney General strongly criticized its business practices.
The Minnesota nonprofit, which offers outdoor activities for people with special needs, said a report issued Monday by the AG’s office “revealed practices that are not aligned with our values.”
It’s the first sign of fallout from the report, which focused on the relationship between Bellevue-based Savers and four Minnesota charities, including Annandale-based True Friends.
The AG office accused Savers of underpaying the charities, misleading donors of goods about what is tax-deductible, and failing to share accurate data about the items it collects on behalf of the charities and sells for a profit.
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Savers spokeswoman Sara Gaugl said it has worked with True Friends for nearly six years and recognizes that “the last few days has been a distraction from this meaningful work. While we regret their decision to not extend our partnership, we wish them continued success in the future.”
Over six decades Savers has built an international chain of 330 thrift stores by partnering with nonprofits. On Tuesday the company criticized the Minnesota AG report, saying it was based on “incorrect assumptions and a misunderstanding of our working relationships with our nonprofit partners.”
Minnesota’s AG office decided to investigate Savers after receiving citizen complaints, and it has forwarded a copy of its report to other state attorneys general, a spokesman said.
A local charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, came to Savers’ defense on Wednesday. “Our partnership with Savers provides a consistent source of funding critical to our ability to serve more than 1,000 children annually,” CEO Amy Mack said in a statement, adding that since 1995, “we’ve experienced only transparent and fair contracting with Savers in addition to generous sponsorships for several of our fundraising events.”