Donations: Tips for Accepting or Refusing


Donations: Tips for Accepting and Refusing Donated Equipment


Suggestions from Carolyn Phillips

Director, Pass It On Center


The following points were extracted from the transcript of a webinar hosted by the Pass It On Center on July 31, 2007. The comments have been edited from oral presentation to article format.   

One of the biggest concerns in getting into the re-utilization business is not knowing if the equipment will come, when it will come and how it will come. The following tips are based on personal experience in the re-use business.


Tips for Refusing Donated Equipment


First, “Be careful what you ask for. There are inherent dangers when you open the doors and say, ‘Yes, we’re looking for equipment.’”


Refusing is definitely a very important part of the equation because it becomes a public relations issue. Be aware that it’s not easy to turn down free stuff, especially when so many folks are out there that have needs. Sometimes items are donated that appear attractive, but a user with a need may not appear for five years. Those kinds of donations may weigh down the program. It’s wise to consider several issues before accepting questionable donations.

Does the program have the technical expertise to fix it if it’s broken? If it’s outdated, how outdated is it? If it is missing parts, are those parts vital? If so, are those parts available? Is this equipment, even though it’s in great condition, suitable for the organization’s needs?

 If an individual or corporation approaches your organization about donations, know how to gracefully decline in appropriate items. Doing so can save the time and energy required to recycle something that is not needed. It helps to formulate a policy about the types of items that will be accepted and those that will not. Post the policy and clarify when asking for donations.


The following tips were borrowed from Jim Lynch, who has done a great job within the PC re-use community.


Refer Questionable Equipment to a Refurbisher or Recycler


If the donated equipment is of questionable usefulness to the organization, refer the donor to a refurbisher or recycler. Thank the donor and explain why the donation does not fit the focus of the program. Check the Tech Soup web site for a list of recyclers.


Ask for Manuals and Spare Parts


The user manual is invaluable in assembling and operating equipment. Ask the donor if it is available. Also ask if there are accessories or spare parts for the equipment.


Ask for Original Software and Licenses


In the case of computers, attempt to acquire not only the user manual for the hardware, but the original disks and software licenses for the operating system. Some of the licenses may be re-used legally if the original disks and licenses are available. There are serious penalties for the illegal use of copyright-protected software. Acquire all of the documentation available, and then determine if the software can be used legally.


Ask for the Accessories


Ask for the accessories that were used with the computer. The donor may continue to use some of those, but it would be helpful to have the monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, modem, cables and any other accessories that were used with the computer – and the user manuals! Cables are especially important for devices that are less common than computers – PDAs, cell phones, AAC devices – and that use nonstandard cables, headphone or power adapters.



Please note that by selecting an Internet link you will be directed to an external site, and the Pass It on Center does not control the content of the site.



This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.




File Name File Size
The file equipment donation flowchart (paraquad).doc has been archived. Please contact the Pass It On Center if you would like access to it. 0.06 MB
The file equipment donation form .doc has been archived. Please contact the Pass It On Center if you would like access to it. 0.09 MB
The file telephone inquiry re donation.doc has been archived. Please contact the Pass It On Center if you would like access to it. 0.04 MB

Other Information

Title: Donations: Tips for Accepting or Refusing
Module: Program Operations
Author: Carolyn Phillips
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title: Excerpt from Webinar
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 7:08 PM