What is one creative way I can get rid of old (but still functioning) computer/IT equipment when I upgrade our office’s machines?
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1. Donate Your Old Equipment to Charity
What better way to put your still functioning computer or IT equipment to good use than to donate them to a local charity! At AquaMobile, we donate our old computers to our local Goodwill store, which has a great partnership with Dell to ensure that any brand of computer gets refurbished or recycled responsibly. All participating locations are listed here.
2. Give Both Talent and Treasure
Donating seems like the logical solution, but consider stretching your influence by donating your treasure and your time. Pair up with a local job training program focused on IT (my favorite is Per Scholas) and give the equipment as a charitable donation. But also offer to do one-on-one coaching/mentoring or conduct skills-based training seminars. Nonprofits need your talent more than anything else.
3. Donate Them to Your Employees
The popular recommendation is to donate your old equipment to charity; while we do encourage this method, we’re also big fans of donating to our own team. Do you employ a mom whose child needs a computer for school, or a fresh college grad living on a budget? Incentivize your team and show them that you care about their needs. It’s a small but important gesture, and one that pays dividends.
4. Give Them to a Local School
I donated my old system to my local school where it is used by low-income children. Also, in some cases they give equipment to kids so they can open and understand the assembly of computers and printers. It works as a donation and also a creative tool for kids to learn about machines. I learned about computers when I played with my brother’s old system. Look at Computersforlearning.gov or Computers for pcrr.com.
5. Donate Old Equiptment to Younger Startups
Donating old equipment to younger startups is a huge help for the startup ecosystem. At my first company, we were hiring new employees but couldn’t afford enough laptops. Luckily, a friend of mine had a startup that was a few clicks ahead of ours and already hitting break-even revenues. He had some old laptops collecting dust in the corner of his office, and he happily donated them to us.
6. Offer Them to Hackerspaces
I recommend finding a local hackerspace and seeing if they will accept the old equipment. We have Pumping Station One in Chicago, but they are very selective about what they take so it can’t be too old.
7. Reach Out to Local Nonprofits
Ask your team which local nonprofits they support and have them reach out to see if the organizations are in need of any of the equipment. Have the employee offer time to deliver the equipment and train the organization’s staff on how to use the equipment if necessary (and if the employee has the time and desire). Let that start a relationship between a worthy nonprofit and your company.
8. Have an Upcycled Computer Art Day
Artists have been making really cool objects out of old computer parts — lamps, benches, desk clocks, you name it. I’ve seen mailboxes and coffee machines made out of old computer towers. Invite artists to use your old parts and even have a company computer art day. You’ll create some cools stuff for the office, but more importantly, you’ll also inspire your team to upcycle more.
9. Repurpose It
Even if your equipment is getting too old for its intended use, there are still plenty of ways to squeeze functionality out of old hardware. One way is to use old machines to power the dashboards and dummy terminals your team uses to monitor its key metrics. You can also give old computers to your team’s QA department and let them use them for browser testing.
10. Put Them on eBay or Craigslist
New computers and IT equipment are not cheap, and cash is tight, especially if you’re a startup. That’s why I highly recommend that you post your old stuff on eBay or Craigslist. That way, you’ll be able to subsidize a portion of your new purchases. In fact, you might also be able to justify an upgrade to your monitor size or memory — two things that we often avoid because of the added cost.
11. Find a Charity or Recycle Them Properly
Let one of your team members contact a charity and facilitate the donation. Then communicate this donation internally to encourage other team members to do the same. We have cases in which equipment has been donated to a school that a child of one of the employees attends. If we can’t find a charity to donate it to, we make sure that we send it to a place that recycles electronic parts.
– Dan Adika, WalkMe
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