Board recruitment pamphlet

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This is a draft of a new or in-progress document, and is likely to have a few people specifically working on it. You may wish to check in on the discussion page to see what the purpose of the document is and who's working on it; then feel free to give this article love and attention if have extra of those things.

Finished Version

(N.B. This is designed for printing double sided using the Short Edge (flip) option, and then folding in half).

Who We Are

Free Geek is a vibrant 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that converts potential ewaste into skills and opportunities. Via several programs, we make free or low cost refurbished computer equipment available to community members and organizations, helping to ensure that all members of our community will have access to the tools that have become near-indispensable in 21st century society. Currently, Free Geek has hundreds of active volunteers engaged in making this goal a reality, and benefits dozens of other area nonprofits each month.

Our Mission and programs

Free Geek’s mission is “to recycle technology and provide access to computers, the internet, education and job skills in exchange for community service.

Our multiple programs work together tightly to fulfill this mission . The “Adoption” program is the longest-running, and involves the bulk of Free Geek’s active volunteers. In this program, members of the community volunteer 24 hours of their time at our reuse and recycling facility and receive a free refurbished computer, peripherals, and the training to use them.

While the Adoption volunteers might be more numerous, Free Geek’s Build volunteers make up for it through their dedication to the organization and the skills they acquire and apply in the service of reuse. These volunteers spend dozens of hours learning how to refurbish computers, which are then given to our volunteers and other nonprofits or sold in the thrift store that helps support the organization.

For individuals who are interested in learning more about operating nonprofit organizations, we also offer many volunteer internship opportunities. These structured programs teach interns how to manage volunteers, assist in the recycling process, and provide administrative support. Frequently, individuals may receive school credit or other recognition for their contributions, and play a valuable role within the organization.

Smaller groups of dedicated volunteers teach classes, test equipment, offer tech support, coordinate hardware grants to other nonprofits, and generally keep Free Geek running.

How We Operate

Because of the importance of volunteers to what we do, Free Geek is dedicated to operating in a democratic, participatory manner. The organization is managed by a staff collective, which (like the Board and other groups) employs formal consensus in decisionmaking.

Our board is structured to reflect the wide variety of individuals and interests that Free Geek serves. Roughly 25% of our Board of Directors is made up of volunteer representatives, while the remainder is made up of talented individuals who represent skills and interests that are valuable to Free Geek, such as the environment, the Free and Open Source Software community, nonprofit law, and human resource management.

What does a Director do?

The Board of Directors is responsible for the governance of the organization, looking after Free Geek's financial, legal, and strategic interests. This includes visioning, as well as conducting periodic performance reviews of the work undertaken by the organization. The board is also charged with creating policies for the organization, which provide guidance for our dedicated staff so that they can better carry out the mission of the organization. Directors may also serve as the “face” of Free Geek. Our Directors are responsible for reaching out to the community, in order to further publicize the importance of our mission. In addition to raising Free Geek’s profile, Directors also help attract funding to the organization.

How Do I Become a Director?

Free Geek is constantly looking for talented, energetic individuals who are willing to help govern a complex and vigorous nonprofit organization. If you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, the first step is to contact us at Our Board meetings are open to the public, so one of the best ways to understand what a Board Member does is to see them in action! Contacting one of these current Board Members would be an excellent way to find out more information on how to become a Director.

However, if you are an active volunteer (30 hours worked in the last year), then there is another way you can try to become a Director. Free Geek has an annual town-hall meeting where volunteers are elected to serve as volunteer representatives to the Board. If you think you would like to become a volunteer representative, then you should contact a staff member at Free Geek and ask them for more details.

Why Get Involved?

Every year, millions of tons of electronic waste are improperly disposed of in the United States, either in landfills or just dumped. These discarded machines can then leak hazardous chemicals, polluting the soil and groundwater of surrounding communities. Further, electronic waste generated in this country is frequently shipped abroad, and disposed of in ways that can generate even higher levels of dangerous toxins that pollute the environment, frequently poisoning the workers in charge of its disposal.

While an excess of technology is bad for ecosystems here and abroad, many people in Portland suffer from lack of technology (or computer skills) that would allow them to pursue jobs, education, and other interests facilitated by the Internet. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on computers for everyday living, these individuals will continue to be marginalized. We turn these two problems toward each other and find elegant and empowering solutions in reuse, mutual aid, and Free/Open Source Software.

As a Free Geek board member, you will be in a unique position to help prevent harm in the larger world and promote good in the Portland community – and have fun doing so!