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Gift of Giving

What to do with all of that old technology By Stephen Schleicher

Got a new G5 for the holidays?  Did you get a new camera, or gaming system and no longer want your old technology?  Have you thought about making a charitable donation?

One of the biggest letdowns when we get new technology is answering the question, ?What do I do with my old stuff?  Unfortunately the money you get from selling old gear, games, or other equipment is so small compared to the original investment you feel somewhat cheated.  I recently went to sell a couple of my Xbox games and found out I could only get $1 for each one.  A video camera you spent $5000 on may only get you $1500 to $2000 if you try to sell it on eBay.  And if you have used your equipment for some time, you have probably already written off all of the depreciable value.
So what can we do to make sure our old technology has worth to someone?  I say donate it.  Yes, you could drop it off at your local Goodwill or the Salvation Army, but that means it will sit on a self waiting for someone else to buy it.  Why not make the donation directly to a group or organization that can actually use it right away?  Im a firm believer in donating my old tech to those organizations I know will get use out of it.

One place you may not think of right away is your local state college or university.  For many schools budgets are tight and getting new computer equipment and hardware may not be feasible in the budget year.  For the last couple of years I have been donating my older computer systems to the media studies department at the local university.  The computers have been used for everything from servers to editing systems to boxes set up to encode streaming media.  While you may think your Mac G5 is the best thing in the world and your Dual Gig G4 is worthless, remember that it is still powerful enough to run Final Cut Pro, and that could very easily help those needing access another box.  While a school may not be able to afford the nearly $5k cost of an Apple box, they can certainly find $1000 for software.  And best of all, you can write the gift off as a charitable donation come April 15 (of course you should always check with your accountant).

What about all of those video games you have been keeping around for clients to play with as you work away on their project?  Dont take them to the local game exchange for a measly buck, donate it to make a child happy.  Many childrens hospitals have gaming systems for young patients who are in for long term care, but the number of games (and gaming systems) are quite low.  Instead of getting a dollar for your game, donate it to the hospital and see a child smile.  If you are familiar with Penny Arcade (www.penny-arcade.com) you may be aware of their Childs Play gaming drive that generated over $250,000 in games and money to the Seattle childrens hospital last year, and has expanded their coverage area this year.  Your older games can be just as valuable to a sick child wanting something to do while they recover.

If you are looking for other sources to donate your used stuff to, check out non-profit organizations in your area and find out what they need.  Perhaps they need a digital camera to take pictures for their website.  They probably dont need a 6 mega-pixel brand new unit, but a 4 mega-pixel, two year old camera that still works great may be right up their alley.

And lets not forget our own personal time that can be donated this year.  Maybe you can donate a few hours of your time to helping build a non-profit website.  Several years ago I was involved in helping to edit a promotional video for an organization that raises money and fund to rebuild playgrounds for children.  I didnt take any money, nor did I try to write my time off for tax purposes, but the joy of knowing the video was able to get more communities involved in this project paid off in the smiles of children.

I know it may sound crazy to say give away your things, but really, if we arent using them, and they are just sitting on the self gathering dust, why not give it away?  Chances are there is a group, person, or school that would love to have your old stuff.

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

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