Become a social impact investor for as little as $50.
week we’d like to introduce you to a unique TechSoup Refurbished Computer Initiative
a nonprofit computer refurbisher in Seattle. What, you may ask, makes
I’m so glad you asked.
InterConnection is a nonprofit refurbisher that has figured out how to do two
things very, very well. It refurbishes IT equipment to very high standards with
a largely volunteer workforce, and it is a model program for responsible export
of refurbished IT equipment in to developing countries.
The program was started in 1999 by Charles Brennick,
who still runs the organization. To date, InterConnection has shipped over
20,000 computers and monitors to organizations around the world and properly
recycled nearly 100,000 computers. They do this work so capably that Microsoft
Community Affairs has commissioned them on multiple occasions to refurbish and send
their computer donations to NGOs and schools all over the world.
InterConnection has also worked with the U.S. Peace
Corp numerous times. I was going to list all the countries where they send
computers, but it’s just
too long. During the past few years, InterConnection has also participated
in supplying badly needed IT equipment to disaster stricken areas like Chile,
Haiti and Pakistan, and Japan.
Suffice to say that they’re a leader in the U.S. on responsible export of
refurbished computers to the developing world.
In the course of doing this work, InterConnection also
trains people to learn how to do IT repair work at no cost to the trainees and trainees
also receive a free computer upon successful completion of their course.
date, more than 1,000 people have participated in this social enterprise at
InterConnection’s Computer Reuse Center. Most of the computers that the
organization works on are donated by local companies and residents.
We got to know Charles
Brennick much better in the course of working together on a Microsoft IT equipment
donation to NGOs in Romania a couple of years ago. Matthew Halden of TechSoup
and I visited his Computer Reuse Center in Seattle and were very impressed at
how InterConnection manages to employ a staff of professionals and volunteers
to produce top-grade refurbished equipment.
The quality control systems that
Charles and his team have created so that people who are learning on the job
can produce grade-A refurbished equipment is pretty astonishing.
In seeing that
nonprofit refurbishment can produce results as good as commercial refurbishment,
we approached Charles about participating as a refurbishment partner with our Refurbished Computer Initiative
(RCI). We’re now working together on another large Microsoft donation of IT equipment going to the Czech Republic for people with
now supplies RCI with warrantied laptops and desktop computers that go to
nonprofits and libraries in the United States. InterConnection also runs a free
RCI end-of-life Take Back Program, in which nonprofits and libraries that receive
RCI computers can have them responsibly recycled at no cost.
It is truly an honor for us
to have the chance to work with a place like Interconnection.
Is there a source for component innards (replacement motherboards, processor chips, RAM) where we can do the work ourselves? We have a number of small form size computers that are still operational but obsolete. By upgrading the guts we can revitalize and give new life to these systems. But like many non-profits, lack $$$ for off-the-store-shelf components.
Is this still going on? Any chance of getting someone from InterConnection to share on the TechSoup forum regarding what software they use to track and support the volunteers that help them, how they screen and evaluate tech volunteers to know they have the right skills and would be appropriate at the organization, how they use their web site or social media to recruit or recognize their volunteers, etc? It's such a great program, and that volunteers are so essential to it makes it extra special!
jcravens42, Regarding software, we started using Access to track volunteer hours. This year we started using an online system called Shiftboard (http://www.shiftboard.com/) which allows volunteers to access their accounts online. We just launched a custom built volunteer and production database that keeps track of volunteers hours and tracks the computers they work on. All volunteers must fill out a application and have a face to face interview. This helps with the screening process. We dont use much social media or outside websites to recruit volunteers since we get many referrals from local organizations like YMCA and other work training nonprofits.
Just thought I'd update this with the information that Interconnection no longer operates a volunteer program.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
Close this window