Free Geek Charitable Contributions 101
Every day at the Free Geek Donations desk, our visitors ask all kinds of questions about our volunteer programs and our organizational structure. We love questions! They show that our patrons are interested in being informed about their chosen causes, and in spending their dollars wisely. Read on for responses to some of the questions we hear most frequently.
Q: “If Free Geek makes money from selling electronics in the Thrift Store, why do you also ask for contributions at the Donations Desk?”
A: First of all, we are incredibly grateful to you, our donors, for your support of technology reuse in the larger community. If you choose not to contribute funds, your hardware donation is no less valuable or appreciated as a result. However, as a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Free Geek relies on a variety of revenue streams, one of them being charitable contributions, to support our volunteer programs and operating expenses. The suggested values we offer at the Donations Desk are based on the costs we incur from processing materials through Receiving. These costs are the same whether a donated item ends up in the Thrift Store or the Recycling Warehouse.
Q: “How do contributions stack up against your other sources of revenue?”
A: We earn about 65% of our revenue through sales in our Thrift Store, bulk sales and online sales. Another 20% comes from recycling vendor payments and pickup fees. The remaining 15% comes from individual contributions, many of which are made at the Donations desk, but some are also sent to us in the mail or transacted through our Paypal account. A portion of recycling expenses that would otherwise affect our budget and our donors’ pocketbooks are also offset by our membership in the Oregon E-cycles program.
Q: “How can I stay informed about how Free Geek is using the contributions and other revenue you receive?”
A: There are various ways to keep tabs on our operations, programs and financials. You can obtain a free copy of our most recent IRS 990 forms on the NCSS website. If you want to follow the progress of our projects and programs on the ground, look no further than our meeting minutes. Minutes from all Free Geek committees and working groups (short of confidential business and executive sessions) are available to the public via subscription to our Minutes email list. Our board of directors is also receptive to answering questions from the public; inquiries about board business and the steering of Free Geek as a whole can be directed to board-discuss AT lists DOT freegeek DOT org. Lastly, if you have a question and aren’t sure where it should be directed, email info AT freegeek DOT org, and a staff member will follow up with you promptly.