What We Do
TechSoup Refurbished Computer Initiative
Each year, companies pay thousands of dollars to dispose of computers that, though only a few years old, are no longer useful to the company. The majority of this hardware ends up stockpiled in storage or dumped into landfills.
At the same time, the demand for low-cost computers is high, and many nonprofits do not have adequate systems to perform their work. An effective recycling and reuse program could effectively meet multiple needs, reducing companies' disposal costs and providing useful computers for charitable reuse.
Since 1987, CompuMentor has been dedicated to helping nonprofits enhance productivity and build sustainable technology systems that foster their missions. Today, its TechSoup Stock website is the premiere distribution channel for nonprofits seeking software and technology resources.
Although TechSoup provides an efficient distribution channel for nonprofits seeking affordable software, Jim Lynch, TechSoup's Computer Recycling & Reuse Development Director, found no such network for hardware. To address this gap, TechSoup developed the Refurbished Computer Initiative (RCI), the first-ever network to accept computer hardware donations from corporations, refurbish the equipment, and resell it to U.S. nonprofits at the lowest possible cost.
Full Circle Fund Role
Full Circle Fund was the first organization to support RCI with funding, which was paired with our hands on grantmaking assistance.
A Technology Impact Circle team provided TechSoup with seed funding and strategic advice to develop a business plan to launch the RCI pilot. Full Circle Fund also leveraged its support and involvement to enroll additional RCI partners such as Cisco Systems.
In the second grant year, Full Circle Fund supported the proof-of-concept phase through additional funding, outreach and marketing materials to recruit early partners.
TechSoup went live with RCI in February 2006, well ahead of schedule. The program is actively signing up corporate donors of used computers for refurbishment.
Additionally, in September 2007, TechSoup hit a major milestone, receiving a generous $500,000, two-year grant from the California Emerging Technology Fund to scale up RCI in California.
Today, TechSoup is making it easy for individuals and businesses to donate computers, with more than 700 nonprofits having purchased low-cost computers through the RCI pilot alone.
TechSoup, part of CompuMentor
"Full Circle Fund provided the first grant funding to launch TechSoup’s Refurbished Computer Initiative. This seed support paved the way for matching grants from the John Chambers Family Foundation and the California Emerging Technology Fund. Full Circle Fund member Anthony Lee also ended up joining our board as treasurer. It is a rare organization indeed that can provide so much deep support to get a worthwhile project going."
TechSoup Computer Recycling & Reuse Director, CompuMentor
Further Reading:Islands in the Wastestream: A Baseline Study of Noncommercial Computer Reuse in the United States, by Jim Lynch, CompuMentor, Fall 2004.
Copyright 2013 Full Circle Fund