Donate Technology for Education
Offer Computers, Laptops, Cameras
Projectors, Copiers, Accessories
Phone Systems, Storage Media
Office Furniture & more
Donate Useful Items
to Benefit the Non-Profit Sector
In the Classroom and for the Office
How to Find a Free Laptop or Desktop Computer
Each Goodwill or second-hand store will most likely have a policy on what to do with the used computer equipment when received, and it is to your benefit to learn about store policy. Some stores will do testing and reconditioning, while others may not. You may need to be patient and wait a while before a suitable computer comes your way, but many have found great used equipment through using this method.
A fifth approach is to have a story written in a local publication about you and your special need. There are often many small hard copy publications which contain community service articles that appeal to the needs of your community. Possibly, if you don't mind being in the limelight, your story may be interesting enough that others may enjoy reading about your courage and determination. Millions of private individuals across America have older, useful computer equipment which they would love to see benefit another.
The next approach is to find a "Freecycle" group near you. The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit network of individuals who give and receive free things in their local community. See if your community is represented by entering it's name into the search box at their website: www.freecycle.org
And lastly, you might consider developing your own strategy for making direct requests to small businesses in your area. This next approach can work equally as well for an individual, or by a service organization seeking many computers.
To use this approach, take some time to prepare one great letter. Your letter should be direct and personal, yet objective, and addressed to an owner of a small business in your area.
As an individual, include a personal introduction which briefly explains your special need or disability. Explain your career goals, and your computing objectives, along with your general hardware requirements. An organization would want to be equally as brief, because business executives often have very little time for reading long, drawn out letters.
It is important that your letter be clear, concise, and objective. If you write the letter yourself, be sure to seek out a friend or editor to correct and improve it, or to offer advice. Your complete letter should fit on one page, and to personalize it even more, clip a small photo of yourself at the top.
With this letter, seek out small businesses, such as dental and medical offices, copy and print shops, small design and engineering firms, or any small adminstrative or technical business with ten or more employees.
Determine who is responsible for making decisions, and personalize your letter directly to that person. Send out ten letters to ten business leaders, and for improved results, follow up with a phone call to each a few days after delivering your letter.
All over America, many individuals and small businesses have old, unused computers in storage sitting idle, and they would love to have the opportunity to directly help someone succeed.
But be cautious with what you accept! These sources, like our exchange network, can offer very old, worthless items as well. If you are not a technician yourself, you will need some technical expertise at hand to know what you are accepting. Unless your objective is to recycle equipment, you may not want just any old equipment that is offered to you. It may turn out to be completely useless, or more problems than it's worth.
Charles DiBella is the founder and director for Recycles.org and the Nonprofit Recycling Network. At present, Charles teaches and assists very poor young student leaders in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. You can read more about Charles and his teaching adventures at his personal website www.bikepaths.org.