Triad Business Journal – September 16, 2016

by Todd Cohen

HandyCapable Network, a Greensboro nonprofit that puts individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities to work as volunteers refurbishing computers it sells at a discount or recycles, is looking for ways to generate more income to stay open.

Formed in 2006, the nonprofit needs to raise $50,000 by the end of the year to cover growing operating costs. The nonprofit has added two part-time employees and moved to larger, more-expensive quarters to accommodate both an increase in the number of its “HandyTech” volunteers to refurbish computers and its inventory of donated computers.

“We’re in a little bit of a hole,” says Anne Tubaugh, its executive director.

Operating with an annual budget of $250,000 and a staff of three people working full-time and four working part-time, HandyCapable in recent years has drawn about $25,000 a year from cash reserves to cover operating deficits.

It created the reserves, now nearly depleted, with roughly $100,000 it received in 2010 as part of the settlement of a class-action related to a computer product it had purchased.

HandyCapable generates about 85 percent of its budget from foundation grants, mainly for programming, not for operations, and about 10 percent from earned income from the sale of refurbished computers. Individual donations account for the remainder.

Twenty HandyTech volunteers contribute thousands of hours a year to HandyCapable, which each year provides discounted information-technology services and sells discounted refurbished equipment to dozens of nonprofits in Guilford County.

It also sells discounted computers or donates them to people in need and sells discounted computers to the general public.

Since 2006, it also has recycled 60 tons of electronic waste.

And since 2010, it has offered free “Computer Build” camps in the summer. This year it provided three weeklong sessions of half-a-day each for a total of about two-dozen middle-school students.

To help cover its projected operating deficit of about $10,000 a month on operating expenses, HandyCapable in recent weeks has mailed a fundraising appeal to donors and launched an online fundraising campaign that together have generated about $1,500.

It has asked each of the six members of its board of directors to invite 10 to 12 prospective donors to monthly tours of its 4,500-square-foot facility at 415 N. Edgeworth St.

It is seeking foundation grants to build its organizational “capacity,” and talking to other nonprofits that also serve individuals with disabilities about collaborating and working together to seek funding.

It also plans to begin offering its Computer Build camps on weekends during the school year and begin charging a fee.

And it is looking for ways to expand its recycling program to include durable medical equipment and televisions, along with wholesale sales of recycled equipment.

The biggest donors to HandyCapable of computers for refurbishing and recycling are Lincoln Financial Group, Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital and ITG Brands.