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Freecycle Begs 2017-07-29


I'd like to point out that although I am skeptical of Freecycle's ability to actually come up with the $25,000 in three weeks, it seems they are still here more than two years later and the site looks the same as it did the day I got that email. Just sayin'.

Freecycle Begs 2015-06-13


Some time ago I found out about Freecycle, a web site where you can post items you wish to get rid of – for free. You may not charge for delivery, you may not ask for donations, you can just give stuff away. I created an account and looked for local free items I might want to go pick up. I also think I may have posted an ad asking for free broken panel televisions that I intended to try and repair.

Recently, I received an email from Freecycle asking for donations. Now I stopped using my Freecycle account some time ago and have not even looked at the site since. The email said:

Dear Freecycle Member,

I'm the executive director of The Freecycle Network and I need your help.

By June 30th, we have to raise at least 10% of our annual donations from you, our members, in order to not lose our charitable status due to IRS regulations on the percentage of donations that come from you, the public. That's US$25,000 / £16,000 we need to earn in order to stay the special —and charitable— nonprofit that Freecycle.org is. And, we have to do this in only three weeks time. I'm concerned we're not going to make it.

The Freecycle Network is the largest nonprofit recycling and re-use web community on the planet. We are not beholden to investors or venture capitalist interests and we manage to get by on an extremely slim budget. This is in part due to our over 7,000 volunteer moderators with at least one volunteer in every community we serve. But, it's also due to your generosity in gifting on Freecycle.org.

Freecycle.org is keeping over 32,000 items a day out of landfills and in use as a result of the efforts of people just like you in over 5,000 local communities. Now is the time to give a couple bucks to the cause if you'd like to keep this momentum rolling on into a new fiscal year. please make your tax-deductible donation right this moment. It will go directly towards keeping over a thousand tons a day out of landfills, every day.

With only three weeks left, we have to raise US$25,000 / £16,000 to maintain our charitable status. If every member were to give US$5.00 (£3) we'd be all set. Please give what you can. You can give via credit card or PayPal. With your support, we'll keep on keepin' on building this gifting and re-use movement across the globe!

With Great Thanks,

Deron Beal, Executive Director
The Freecycle Network

Now in general, that may seem like a plain old email campaign for donations. But I never signed up for such a mailing list, and I don't think it is cool of Freecycle to send me this. Now, maybe it would be considered necessary because the site my have to die if enough donations are not given, but I have a hard time believing this is the right way to go about it. There are a few other things about this email that bother me...

  • If Freecycle were based in Canada would they still be in a position to lose their nonprofit status?
  • Why would the IRS legislate that 10% of a charity's donations must come from the "general public"? And how does the IRS define "general public"?
  • Why would they wait until there is only three weeks left to start this campaign?
  • If Freecycle is "not beholden to investors or venture capitalist interests" and it is not getting its funding (clearly less than 10%) from the "general public", then where is its revenue coming from?
  • If they need $25,000 and they are looking for a $5 donation from each user, then that must mean they have 5,000 users. But the email also states that they have over 5,000 local communities. Does that mean there is only one user per local community? That simply does not add up.
freecycle_header Better than kijiji right?

While I like the idea of keeping stuff out of landfills, this email leaves me with enough questions (and not enough time) to be confident that my donation is going to end up in an appropriate place. :-(

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