A donation is a gift given by physical or legal persons, typically for charitable purposes and/or to benefit a cause. There are a few things that most community bicycle organizations hope to have donated: money, time, bikes & parts. Each type is essential to the organization and may require unique ways to encourage and process the donation.
Whether it is for staff, rent, or just chain lube, it is challenging to operate an organization without it.
If your organization is just starting out, focus on the basic tools. While people's first reaction is to ask Park or Pedros for a donation, keep in mind EVERY organization does that too. After months of begging at best they will give you a "pro-form" or an "OEM" deal, which is only slightly cheaper than buying it that same day using a local for-profit shop's distributor account.
Bikes & Parts
Bikes for trade is usually abused as laundering, regardless of how nice the bike is, it isn't worth the trouble. There are plenty of other bikes out there, for example:
- Individuals donating bikes need three things:
- Consistent and plentiful drop-off hours.
- Ability to receive a tax write-off donation receipt.
- Ways to find and contact you. Phone numbers and websites.
- Bike Drive by your organization or some other entity (corporation, boy scout, after school club) looking for community service.
- Unclaimed bikes from the Police Departments are typically auctioned off. Organizations like the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective have been able to lobby their city council to setup a contract that permits the police department to give bikes to them instead of them going to auction. The reality was that it cost the police department MORE to have off duty (time and a half) officers transport the bikes and then sit around during the actions. Obviously some of these bikes, perhaps most of them, are stolen. So for karma's sake it is good to encourage using or develop a local bike registration system.
- Large apartment complexes sometimes have a stock of abandon bikes that build up. Encourage them to turn them over to the police and then work with the police to get them later. This gives original owners a better opportunity to be re-united.
- City dump and/or recycling facilities have many bikes dropped off there, they might not be in the best of shape, but sometimes it is worth it.
- Racers have nice stuff. Find out the local racing schedule and set up a donation accepting tent and table for those events. Contact the event promoter before hand so that they can announce your presence before hand to the event registrants.
Everything that you can, whether you want it or not.
Organizations that have a strong shop recycling system have the ability to NOT be picky. This is a huge benefit since the general public doesn't typically know "good" bike from a "bad" bike, so instead of confusing them, it is better to take any and all donations with a smile.
There will be people dropping off department store bikes that look like they spent the last few years at the bottom of the ocean, but yet that donor still feels this is a "good bike" with value. They don't know, and that isn't their fault. At the same time a wealthy individual may view an older Italian custom steel lugged frame with a full Campagnolo Record setup as "old and crappy" compared to their new carbon bike. They don't know, and that isn't their fault. Given that everything is relative, if you want that Italian racing bike, you may have to deal with a dozen or more Huffys first.
Really valuable bikes will always be a relatively small percentage of the lesser quality bikes.
Donation Triage: Evaluation
- Evaluating Saddles - Saddles are either good, free, or ruined
- Evaluating Handlebars - How to tell whether handlebars are usable
- Evaluating Pedals - Which things are ok, and which can't be fixed
- Evaluating Stems - How to know that they have their parts and aren't cracked
- Evaluating Brake Levers - Making sure they are ready to be used
- Evaluating Hubs - Our standards for keeping hubs
- Evaluating Front Derailleurs - All of the important parts
- Evaluating Derailleurs - The important parts for rear derailleurs
- Evaluating Helmets - How to sort helmets by condition
Donation Triage: Sorting
- Sorting Spokes - Measuring length and width, and how to use the motel
- Sorting Saddles - Sorting saddles by width and construction
- Sorting Handlebars - Separating road from mountain and good from free
- Sorting Pedals - Sorting pedals by size and type, and pairing them
- Sorting Stems - Sorting quill stems by length and diameter
- Sorting Brake Levers - Sorting flat bar levers from road levers
- Sorting Brake Calipers - Telling caliper from cantilever, and sorting caliper brakes
- Sorting Cranks - Different kinds of cranks and what to do with them
- Sorting Derailleurs - Separating front from rear
- Sorting Front Derailleurs - Sorting doubles from triples
- Sorting Rear Derailleurs - Sorting the four categories of rear derailleurs