The Freecycle Network

Building a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources and eases the burden on our landfills


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About the project Edit

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,082 groups with 9,248,623 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free. To sign up, go to and find your community by entering it into the search box or by clicking on ‘Browse Groups’ above the search box. Have fun!

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

What is the social value of this project? Edit

By giving freely with no strings attached, members of The Freecycle Network help instill a sense of generosity of spirit as they strengthen local community ties and promote environmental sustainability and reuse. People from all walks of life have joined together to turn trash into treasure.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The Freecycle concept has since spread to over 85 countries, where there are thousands of local groups representing millions of of members -- people helping people and ‘changing the world one gift at a time.’

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

A Brief History

On May 1st, 2003, Deron Beal sent out the first e-mail announcing The Freecycle Network™ to about 30 or 40 friends and a handful of nonprofits in Tucson, Arizona. At the time Deron founded The Freecycle Network, he worked with a small nonprofit organization, RISE, which provides recycling services to downtown businesses and transitional employment to Tucsonans in need.

As the team recycled, rather than watching perfectly good items being thrown away, they found themselves calling or driving around to see if various local nonprofits could use them. Thinking there had to be an easier way, Beal set up that first Freecycle e-mail group in a way that permitted everyone in Tucson to give and to get. Freecycle was off and running.

The Freecycle concept has since spread to over 85 countries, where there are thousands of local groups representing millions of of members -- people helping people and ‘changing the world one gift at a time.’ As a result, we are currently keeping over 500 tons a day out of landfills! This amounts to five times the height of Mt. Everest in the past year alone, when stacked in garbage trucks!

What is the business model of this project? Edit


The Freecycle Network’s current annual budget is running at about $140,000 in income. The funding comes from corporate underwriting, on-site advertising (in the form of a Google sponsor bar), grants and individual donations. Approximately 90% of these funds are used directly for program expenses. The remaining 10% is split evenly between membership, fundraising and other administrative expenses. Our IRS 990s are posted at the hotlink below as well as on We are delighted to report that we have now received our 501(c)3 status from the IRS (11/06) and that donations to The Freecycle Network are tax-deductible! We likewise are a charity in the UK. Further, we are registered as a nonprofit corporation in the State of Arizona. Tax deductibility is retroactive to our application date in July of 2004.

Our expenses of about $130,000 are mainly in the paying of four individuals and the maintenance of our current website and design of the new community. These individuals include the executive director, two contractors responsible for the current web community and one contractor for the new website design project. We have several servers to this end, coding expense and related site-design expenses. We also are incurring substantial legal expense, primarily in defending our trademark.

Our model is much like that of PBS. We seek to provide a free public forum for our members, and seek grants, underwriting and voluntary donations to fund these efforts. It’s a rather unique model for a website, but The Freecycle Network is a unique organization. As we further develop community reuse and recycling on a globally local scale in over 70 countries we are creating a global gift economy in the process. Simply beautiful how one can change the world, one gift at a time.


In just a few short years, Freecycle™ has generated an spectacular worldwide outpouring of generosity, changing the world one gift at a time. Those with still good used items happily share; those who need gracefully receive, all without judgement - or any funds - passed.

Freecycle™ performs many wonderful functions: building bonds and community, keeping material items from the landfills, and redeeming the clutter than consumes us by moving it forward to a new, productive life.

Due to the incredible efforts of nearly 10,000 local volunteers, The Freecycle Network™ is able to keep its administrative expenses quite low. However, as the largest recycling and reuse website in the world, we have rather substantial server, bandwidth and coding expenses. And, your help to keep this incredible grassroots effort going is deeply appreciated. Please feel free to reference our latest IRS 990s as well as on the independent website Your generous donations to The Freecycle Network are tax deductible as we are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Thank you for your support in ‘changing the world one gift at a time.’

We welcome donations to help meet these expenses and to continue to refine and spread our extraordinarily successful Freecycle™ infrastructure. We especially encourage those who are grateful for the opportunities Freecycle™ has provided, either as donor or recipient, to donate in honor of Freecycle partners. Freecycle™ will be happy to notify anyone you choose of a donation in his/her honor.


There are literally thousands of volunteers who represent the passion and commitment behind the scenes which enable The Freecycle Network™ to function as a grassroots and nonprofit gifting movement.


Kramr Levin is a full-service law firm which represent clients from Global 1000 companies to emerging growth entities across a wide range of industries. They have provided Freecycle with countless hours of pro bono services and have our undying gratitude.

The Freecycle Network is incorporated as a nonprofit in the State of Arizona.

Nonprofit Status
The Freecycle Network is a private, nonprofit organization incorporated in the State of Arizona. Our application for federal nonprofit status -- what’s known as a 501(c)3 ruling -- was approved in November, 2006 by the IRS. This means that any donations made to The Freecycle Network are tax deductible retroactively stretching back to our original application date in July of 2004.

The ‘Freecycle™’ name is a registered trademark in the European Union (R) and is a trademark in the United States and Canada, or ‘TM.’ When the mark has been registered by the USPTO as well, this TM will also become an R, for registered.

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