Could I use y’all as…

Could I use y'all as guinea pigs? We're putting together the draft pages for the technology exchange program, which we're hoping to have go live in October.

If you have a few spare minutes, please stop by and take a look at the pages -- read through them, see if they're clear, try offering a donation or requesting an item. Everything inputted will be cleared September 30th -- this is just testing. Thanks!

Please don't forward this around -- we'll send out a press release on Monday, October 4th when it's actually live.

14 thoughts on “Could I use y’all as…”

  1. Looks great, and I really like the little sidebar about your Apple II.

    The only problem I see is the open-ended “you must pay for unspecified shipping charges” business. I fear getting a letter that says, “please ship the desktop computer, 17-inch monitor, and printer you are donating to the following address in Ulan Bator, Outer Mongolia…”

    You might want to put some restrictions on that, otherwise you may discourage donors…

  2. Ben, I tried to make it clear that we would be matching up people in the same geographic area and that we would tell you where it was going before you confirmed donation — is that not clear? And if not, how would you suggest re-wording it?

    I don’t know what else we can actually do — in practice, I imagine that we’ll say, please ship it to Joe in Minnesota, and the donor will talk to Joe and they’ll work something out in terms of when it gets shipped, etc. Joe may even chip in on shipping costs, if can afford it. But I don’t want to put that burden on recipients up front. And shipping costs are going to be so variable, depending on what kind of item it is (laptop vs. printer vs. camera) and how they decide to send it. 🙁

  3. On my computer at work — an old iMac running Microsoft IE 5 — the text runs far off the right side of my screen, making me have to scroll over on every sentence to read it. I’m guessing you probably want fix this so it’s readable on older systems, since this is all about *donating* older systems and all.

  4. One other suggestion — you mentioned that Joe and his donor will “work it out”. But either of them may wish to be anonymous. You may want to put some kind of checkbox about “please withhold my name”, etc.? Obviously the grantee needs to reveal their address, but the donor doesn’t, necessarily…?

    Maybe I’m being too paranoid… does anyone else think there are any potential privacy issues? Like, “I saw in publisher’s weekly lunch that you sold that book for a million — and I know you wrote it with my laptop! I want my cut!” 🙂

  5. Hmm…interesting point. We could potentially maintain the anonymity of the recipient, I think, though it would entail some extra work for Carmela. I’ll check with her, see if she thinks it’s feasible. Thanks.

  6. Wait, maybe we can’t. Joe needs to know where to ship his laptop, doesn’t he? Unless we take possession (which we can’t, for liability reasons, not to mention doubled shipping costs), the donor needs to know the name/address of the recipient.

    Am I missing something?

  7. Problem with the shipping charges- can’t they be split between donor and recipient? I think people shy away from ordering things for ‘themselves’ at the thought of shipping costs as it is- and giving ‘free’ things is fine, but then having to ‘pay’ to do so…here’s to hoping the philanthropy outweighs pecuniary interests.

  8. Well were I ready to give up one of my old laptops, I would be happy to also pay for the packaging and shipping of that laptop to a worthy person – would then include that in the deduction I took for the donation.

    I think the simplest method is to ask that donor’s pay for packing and shipping what they donate to the recipiant, with the understanding that wherever possible matches will be set up to minimize shipping (i.e. perhaps no shipping required at all if a match can be found in the same state).

    Donor’s could be asked to provide a maximum they are willing pay to pack and ship their system – a few people for whom any amount is okay would be the ones who get matched with writers in farther/more expensive places to ship to (Hawaii, Alaska, non-US addresses etc.)

    In terms of Anonymity the reciepiant probably can’t be anonymous – most packages have to shipped to a person (at least they are well advised to be from a security/safety standpoing these days), the donor, however could certainly be anonymous – just provide the SLF Foundation as the name and address for returns for example.

    When donating a computer, care should also be taken to try wherever possible to include with the donation software licenses, original disks, cables, spare parts etc. (for laptops extras like the spare trackpoint buttons, floppy disk drives for laptops etc).

    With laptops in particular anyone who gets a donated system should probably assume that they will need to purchase a new battery in the not too distant future – batteries typically are the first thing to go in a laptop, and almost any system with serious usage over 2 years old will need a new battery.

    Licenses typically come with new systems, they should be sent with the laptop (and there may be a form to fill out to legally transfer the license in some cases).

    If support remains on a system (for example a 2 year old laptop which originally came with a 3 year warrentee, there is usually some paperwork that can be filled out to tranfer the support contract with the laptop.

    For many writers an educational package of MS Office (for PC’s at least) will be $99 with a license that extends it to a number of computers in the same household. Anyone who is a teacher or student (or who has a student or teacher in the household) qualifies for the educational package. A reasonably fair deal, especially coming from Microsoft.

    Shannon

  9. Another interesting question — could a donor designate a recipient? That is, you know some writer you admire needs a computer, you’re willing to donate it to her — can you get a tax deduction through the SLF?

  10. Well, I’d hate to advertise that, because it starts looking iffy, IRS-wise. And I’m not sure it’s actually a fair use of our program, in keeping with our general mission.

    But that said, if you really wanted to do this, I suppose the thing to do would be to donate something very specific, and then tell your intended recipient to apply for something equally specific, and maybe she’d get matched up? But possibly not if there were fifty people ahead of her in line…

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