How to approve/deny grants

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1. Are they located in the US or Canada?

If not, pass this ticket on to the Grants Coordinator. We are generally not approving grants for organizations that are not headquartered in the US or Canada.

2. Do they have a local area contact?

If not, the request is rejected. We do not have the resources to ship computers or prepare them for shipping. If a grantee says that they have a local area contact, but are located a significant distance away (i.e. you would usually take a plane to get there), ask them to elaborate on their plan for getting the grant to their location. Contracting with a shipper, who we then work with directly, is not a valid option.

3. Is the grantee part of an organization that we have a special approval process for?

  • Portland Public Schools: As of October 2013, we have some new contacts for granting equipment to PPS. Please use (or amend) the following blurb of text when responding to PPS grant requests for computers to be used in the classroom or office. If they are requesting computers to teach computer refurbishing, we can approve the request.:

Thanks for your interest in a hardware grant from Free Geek! Due to a large number of grant requests from Portland Public Schools and a desire to more effectively coordinate hardware deployment with PPS IT we are now asking that requests be sent to the appropriate individuals within PPS.

If you are requesting a smaller grant such as a few systems for an individual classroom or office please direct your request to Michael Lively (

If you need a large number of systems, to outfit a computer lab for example, please direct your request to Seth Kreiss (

At this time we are closing all outstanding grant applications for Portland Public Schools and will be unable to fill any future grant requests that have not been approved through PPS IT. We apologize for any inconvenience or delay this change may cause.

  • Oxford Houses: Must contact the currentHousing Services Representative for the Oxford Houses of Oregon, before approving any of these grants. Phone # and email in RT

4. Is it a 501(c)3 organization?

See answer to question 5 in the application. If the answer "yes", verify with Business registrars (OR or WA), MelissaData, Guidestar or the IRS website. Copy and paste the text from the page confirming that it is a 501(c)3 organization into the RT ticket as a comment. If you can't find them in these databases, ask to see a certificate of determination from the IRS showing that the organization is a 501(c)3. 501(c)3 organizations are automatically eligible organizations.

If you are able to confirm they are a 501(c)3 organization, go onto question 5.

If the answer is "no" go to question 4a.

4a. Do they directly or indirectly support candidates running for office?

If they are not a 501(c)3 organization, you need to ask "Does your organization directly or indirectly support candidates running for office?" Put this in an e-mail, sent through RT so that we have a written record of their reply.

If the answer to this question is "yes", the grant is denied. If the answer is "no" go onto question 4b.

From at: RT #59 "Decided 8/26: 'Our 501(c)(3) status prevents us from granting to candidates running for office or organizations supporting candidates running for office.'"

4b. Are they in their respective state's business registry and are they listed as a non-profit, public benefit, religious or educational organization?

Here are the business registrars.

If they are listed as falling into on of the categories listed above, go onto question 5.

If the business registry seems to indicate that the organization is for-profit or partisan, the organization may not be eligible. Ask the grants coordinator if you are unsure.

If you can't find them in the business registrar, go onto question 4c.

4c. If they aren't in the business registrars, do they fall into one of our eligible categories?

These types of organizations are eligible for grants:

  • Non-profits (non-partisan)
  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Social Change Organizations
  • Community Centers
  • Collectives

These types of organizations are (usually) ineligible:

  • For-profit
  • Individuals
  • Partisan (always ineligible)

Here are some suggestions for checking an organizations legitimacy.

  • See if we have granted to them before. This does not automatically mean that an organization is legitimate (we might have made a mistake in the past), but it will give you an idea of what research has already been done and what our relationship with them is like.
  • Check website.
  • Check contacts from website: like board members, other people in positions of leadership.
  • Ask for paperwork like brochures, etc.
  • Ask to see organizational plan.
  • Interview them about projects, past, present, and future.
  • Ask them about what they intend to use the equipment for
  • Use whois command in commandline to figure out who owns the website.

5. Make sure the requestor is associated with the organization and that they have the authority to make the grant request.

  • What is their role at the organization? If they are a volunteer, you should probably check with a staff member to make sure that the volunteer is following proper channels.
  • Do they have an organizational e-mail?
  • If you cannot determine if the contact is associated with the organization or whether or not they have the authority to make the grant request, call another contact from the website (preferably someone with some authority) or Business registrars if possible. Can they vouch for the person who contacted Free Geek?

6. What kind of hardware do they need? What are they going to use it for? Is this hardware that we can provide?

Check the Hardware Grants What We Can Give Out List.

What kind of software are they planning to use? For most things, Ubuntu works great, but for an organization that wants to run Windows 7, a Freebox won't cut it. An FG-PDX will, but they have to be FG-PDX eligible (within the Portland city limits).

This is also a great time to check RT and see if we have donated to them in the past. If the organization wants laptops make sure that they are not going to go over the 3 per 3 months limit.

7. Are they requesting the hardware for a silent auction, raffle or other prize?

To avoid issues with warranty transfer as well as the appearance of "pass-through granting" as well as to encourage thrift store business, we do not grant out hardware for silent auctions, raffles or as prizes for organizations. These requests can be fulfilled with a Thrift Store gift certificate and should be handled by the Hardware Grants Coordinator (a.k.a. "The Grantfather" or "Grantmother").

8. Are they taking the hardware overseas?

Some organizations with domestic headquarters work abroad. While we can generally verify the legitimacy of these organizations, shipping computers abroad and disposing of them properly pose potential problems. Ideally, we grant to organizations provided they will be carried (not shipped) to the program site and that the organization commits to bringing them back to the US for recycling. We have no way of tracking that these things actually occur, but by sending out small numbers of laptops we are able to support these organizations, while limiting our potential negative impact on the environment. This is not iron-clad and there are cases where we will provide systems for shipment abroad.

9. Do they have a reasonable plan for disposing of the hardware in an environmental fashion?

Review the answer to the related question on the application. Follow up with the grant recipient if necessary.

10. Have they agreed to fill out our 3 month survey?

To date, no one has refused. If they did, we wouldn't grant to them. (Note, that they are able to say they don't want publicity/details used).

11. Input details in RT/ToDo custom fields and respond to applicant

Make sure you update the custom fields with the most current information. Details on how to do that can be found in Using RT for Hardware Grants.

Now that everything is up-to-date, you can and should respond to the applicant using the Reply link. Use the Hardware Grants Responses templates if you are not sure how to respond.


Exceptions to the no foreign organizations rule

The one recent exception is a non-profit in Mexico. The head of this organization visited Free Geek in person, all of the computers are driven from Free Geek to the program sites, and they presented us with a tax-exempt certificate from the Mexican government. They also provide us with photographs and on-going reports of their progress.--Elizabethwt 22:36, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Exceptions to the no for-profits rule

I made one exception by approving a grant for about a dozen broken VCRs to Intel for a school program. This was a good decision as the VCRs had one final hurrah before becoming CBM and the grant was for educational purposes. I also made an exception by granting some disassembled hard drives (without the platters) to a for-profit digital data storage company to use in a tabling display. I wouldn't do this again as, in retrospect, the grant advanced the for-profit interests of the company and not an educational agenda.--Elizabethwt 00:57, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

We have also granted to CityBikes and Peoples Food Co-Op. These are for-profit organizations, but they qualify as collectives.

Exceptions to the no individual rule

We offer two classes of "pass through" grants, where organizations give computers to individuals. These grants are deprioritized, meaning that if human and/or hardware resources are strained, we first fill organizational grants. Another factor to consider is whether or not the "pass through" organization will be providing computer education to the eventual users.

  • If the recipients are unable to come to Free Geek to volunteer and earn their own computers, do to distance or other impediments, we may provide systems to them.
  • If the organization is willing to serve as the sole contact with Free Geek (for tech support issues, returns, etc.) and imposing on recipients that systems should be ethically recycled or reused at their end of life, we are able to grant out the items to them. These conditions must be spelled out clearly and accepted by the organization prior to approval.