Magazine article Technology & Learning

Dealing with the Donation Dump

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Dealing with the Donation Dump

Article excerpt

A principal-turned-challenge-grant director shares some dos and don'ts for responding to used equipment offers

Have you ever had a parent, a local business, or other well-meaning soul, who wanted to donate used computer equipment to your school, but it wasn't what you needed? With improved equipment continually coming to market and tax credits available for used equipment donation to schools, if you haven't had this experience, you soon will. What to do?

Either of your choices--accepting or declining--has a potential downside. If you accept a donation of unusable equipment, you have the additional responsibility for proper disposal, and that's not so simple. Computer components constitute hazardous waste, and even the "safe" parts will still cost you when they are sent to the landfill.

Declining the offer has pitfalls as well. Politically, with schools lamenting their lack of funds, the public does not always understand when schools decline "perfectly good computers." Worse, you may lose the right of first refusal the next time the same donor has better booty. Whichever course you choose, here are some suggestions to make the sailing smoother.

Establish a Policy

To decide when and how to say "no thanks," your best approach is to have a formal, written policy that specifies minimum hardware and software requirements as well as procedures for accepting donations. Independent schools will want to establish their own policy; for schools that are part of a larger system, the document should be adopted by the district or governing board. For an example of a donation criteria form, see us/instruction/edtech/min_ donation-purchase.html offered by Tim Landeck, Technology Coordinator for Santa Cruz City Schools. Look for a Match First

Assume you say, "Why yes, we'd happily accept your kind donation of that IBM 286." What are you going to do with it? Landeck says, "The bottom line is that a computer is too old only when nobody at your site can use it efficiently." Before you accept the donation, know if you have found a user, and be sure to have a clear understanding of what tech support is--or is not--going to be forthcoming.

Explore Other Uses for the Older Equipment

Sometimes, older but functioning computers can be put to great use--as a word processing lab, for example. …

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