Some of the most common questions we're asked are "how is Bikes for the World funded" or "it must be really expensive to ship bikes overseas--how do you do that"? It certainly is true that the costs associated with getting donated bikes, parts, accessories and tools to our partners are not insignificant. This is one of the largest expenses that Bikes for the World must budget for each year and is an integral part of our strategic goals and annual planning process at the onset of each year.
In order for us to adequately support our existing network of domestic and international partners we estimate that the total volume of donated bikes should be in the 10,000-12,000 range per year. This volume of bikes allows us to work with partners to schedule shipments and ensure they arrive at the right time of year based on the programming specifics, seasonal weather oddities and the cyclical nature of donations here at the Bikes for the Home home base.
While it's quite apparent that donations of bikes, parts and tools are important to the organization and our partners, financial donations are what make it possible for those donated bikes and parts to get where they need to go and make an impact in our partners' communities. The most common form of monetary support is a donation made in conjunction with a bike, which is logical because that $10 or $20 gets a bike to Madagascar allowing health workers to provide medicine in rural area or to a student in The Philippines or Sierra Leone allowing them to continue their education or even to agriculturalists in Costa Rica making their trek to and from the banana plantation more efficient.
Beyond individual small donor giving, which is the backbone of Bikes for the World, we are fortunate to have support from foundations and grant-giving organizations that share our vision of community and individual empowerment through access to a bike. For many small nonprofits, including Bikes for the World, the changing tax landscape means adapting and ensuring our supporters are able to maintain their level of giving while still seeing a benefit on their end. This means that donations and support in the form of IRA-associated qualified charitable gifts are becoming more common, as are gifts of stock or securities.
Regardless of the level or type of support, we are grateful for the contributions made by each individual, school, faith community, civic organization or corporation over the years. If it were not for this support we would not be able to provide the consistent and predictable support to our partners that we set out to plan for each year. Having recently returned from Costa Rica where I spent a week visiting rural communities where donated bikes have gone over the past 15 years, and where our partner FINCA Costa Rica works to establish micro-credit coops for community empowerment, I can unequivocally say that every contribution made to Bikes for the World has makes a real and tangible difference.