Q. What if my bike is damaged, or missing a part…will you accept it?
A. Generally yes. We welcome all bikes in repairable or better condition, including those with flat tires, missing a minor part, or with superficial rust. As long as a bike frame is not broken or encrusted with rust, we can probably use it.
Q. Are donations to Bikes for the World tax-deductible??
A. Yes. Bikes for the World is eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. Our IRS letter is dated April 29, 2011, and our Federal ID # is 27-5426399.
Q. Do you pick up bikes?
A. Only if you have ten or more. We partner with area bike shops and community organizations for dozens of convenient drop off locations. We are constantly adding sites but if you can't find something that works contact us and we will find a solution. Apartment buildings, retailers, police impound lots, and institutions with ten or more bikes can rely on Bikes for the World to come pick them up.
Q. Are used bikes actually valuable overseas? I don't think my bike would be wanted by anyone!
A. Used bikes are very valuable overseas. They are often of higher quality than the more affordable new bikes on the market. Repairs are also much more affordable overseas (and create jobs!) so they can get the vast majority of used bikes in working condition for little added cost. Even bikes that may seem like they have no life left in them often have valuable parts that can be used by our partners, which would be expensive for them to purchase otherwise.
Q. How will my bike be used overseas?
A. Depending on which country/program your bike is sent to, it could be used for many purposes, including:
- Providing training in bike mechanics and job opportunities to at-risk youth or persons with disabilities
- Allowing health workers to visit more patients and provide better care
- Keeping kids in school
- Connecting farmers to markets
- Helping adults get to work and save money on transportation
Q. Are the bikes given away for free by your partners?
A. While a few of our partners do donate the bikes they receive to beneficiaries for free, the majority sell their bikes at low costs - and for good reason. Selling the bikes at affordable prices allow our partners to recoup the shipping costs, resulting in a more sustainable model for growth. The fact that beneficiaries need to pay a modest cost for the bikes also tends to ensure that the bike will be put to good use and is considered a valuable resource.
For those partners that do donate the bikes, we take extra care to make sure that they still have a sustainable model and that they have methods in place to make sure the beneficiaries are using the bikes as intended.
Q. If bikes are being sold by your partners, are they really getting to the people who need them most?
A. We seek to get as many bikes as possible to people in need who will put them to their best use. To do this, the bikes need to be accessible to these vulnerable populations, but also the programs providing the bikes need to be sustainable. Charging a modest price allows for the sustainability and growth of such initiatives. Prices are set to make them affordable to low- and middle-income individuals and are much more affordable than alternative transportation methods. Some programs even offer flexible payment terms to ensure that even some of the most vulnerable groups can afford bicycles. Many of our partners also occasionally donate a limited number of bicycles when they see a demonstrated need.
Q. Will sending bikes hurt the local bicycle trade?
A. No. The market for bikes in developing countries is unsaturated. The demand and need for bicycles is much higher than the supply available. We generally do not ship bikes to countries with strong local bike manufacturing industries so almost all bikes are imported. Quality new bikes on the market often price out the majority of the population so our bikes are increasing the number of people who have the means to purchase a bicycle and thereby stimulating the economy. Moreover, our partners are often creating jobs in bike repair and sales.
Q. How much does it cost to send a shipment? Why don't organizations just buy new bikes locally?
A. The cost of a shipment depends on the country, but usually ranges from US$3,000-8,000. Costs are typically lower to Central America than to Africa. Costs increase when shipments go to less commonly used seaports. Getting anything to an inland country would increase costs significantly.
While these costs may seem high, the per bike cost is typically much lower than it would be to purchase bikes locally. Reasonable quality bikes often cost between US$100-200 in many of the countries we ship to and many of the less expensive bikes on the market are of very low quality. Even with the added costs of taxes and repair, the value of the shipments we send far outweighs the costs to our partners.
Q. Do you give away bikes locally?
A. Yes, to established non-profit programs which work with a qualifying disadvantaged population, have the capacity and commitment to recondition the bikes that we donate, and which can assume all liability for their subsequent use. We do not give away bikes to individuals locally, as we do not have the ability, time, or liability insurance to qualify an individual as eligible, recondition and make safe a large selection of bikes, or meet with and fit an individual with an appropriate bike.
Q. Do you sell bikes locally?
A. Generally not. The board of directors has established the policy that only bikes having premium value in the United States relative to their value overseas may be sold. And in no case can the number sold during a calendar year constitute more than two percent of the total number of bikes handled in that year.
Among the bikes which we commonly sell are collectible vintage 60s- and 70s-era high-end road bikes, collectible 1980s-era BMX bikes, and the occasional carbon and similar modern high-end road bike that would be less likely to hold up in a Third World road environment.
We also do not sell bikes at collection events; all donated bikes must come to our warehouse and be evaluated for suitability by staff or a qualified volunteer.
Q. You help people overseas. What do you do for people in need here?
A. While our primary mission is to help people overseas better themselves through the provision of a usable bicycle, we provide bikes and other benefits in the United States, including:
- Donated bikes for local programs – we provide a limited number of appropriate bicycles to half a dozen local programs, including adult bikes for transportation to work and children’s bicycles at holiday time. See Local Programs.
- Community service – we provide tangible and rewarding community service opportunities to youth and adult alike, building individual and team skills, and raising awareness of environmental and economic development issues.
- Environment – we divert usable bicycles from the waste stream, saving costs and protecting the environment, and promote the concept of reuse and recycling more generally.