Questions for Bike projects:
- How did your project begin? (tell me as much or little about what
was involved to get you started . From idea to actualization)
3 brainstormed. 20 had a party. soon after, we called 1 reporter. then 1 news story led to 300 bikes in front yard in 2 days. over 10 years, project grew organically to current free community bicycle shop, checkout bikes, annual festival, free classes, sus trans institute.
- What was the process of filing for a 501c3 and if you're using an
umbrella organization, how did you find them?
picked up form and started writing. used umbrella, but cumbersome and they took 10%. do your own thing.
- Do you have a lawyer, or lawyer friends that might give me some
legal advice pro-bono?
we've got one who helps us out when needed. email me off-list and I can help or seek his help.
- Where did you get your funding?
a donation jar in the shop (20-100$ a day), raffles, parties, 200 letters sent out a year, couple small grants.
- How did you enlist volunteers and keep them?
with a free and open shop, they come to us constantly. we have 2 levels: one is informal- stop by and help others whenever you can during open shop hours. the other is more formal- come take a shop shift once a week, or teach a class once a week. 12 of us have keys to the shop. i think that is important- a small group has benefits and responsibilities. and we spread the benefits and responsibilities out from the core group to the community at large.
- What do you wish you had known going into this process ahead of
i'm sort of thankful i knew nothing, as to leave all possibilities open. as already posted, do what feels right as you go. it can be tough, and the urge to move towards a money model will be strong at times. i'm not saying charging for stand time is bad- what a great service!- but for missoula for now the 'payoff' in creating positive energy around bike culture by helping everyone without regards to money is large. and, ironically, the money flows in just when we need it.
i want to add 2 things regarding money and the 'free' model: one concern is that you will not be able to operate, because there may be rent, tools, a vol coordinator to pay, etc... as I said, money flows when needed.
I'm more interested in the 2nd concern that pops up now and then: do people value something that is free??? well, do you value a gift? aren't the best things free? air, love, a good conversation, riding your bike?
here is one way we have bridged that second concern: we require 2 hours vol time and the taking of a 'bikewell' class for someone to get a free bike to build/tune up. stand time, parts, and loaner bikes have no requirements, but most people pitch in something to that donation jar.
talking about these 2 issues with your core group, and the larger community is healthy. i'd welcome thoughts from this list.
lastly- Ariel, your set-up may be really simple and easy if the main focus is people teaching people and not getting bikes out to people. it helps to have a parts room though- so many good bike parts are going to waste/recycled, when it can make someone's broken bike go again if you just organize the parts into labeled containers. hope this helps.