One of the more frequent questions we hear from the companies we work with is if we have any advice about donating laptops and other used IT equipment to charity. With school budgets declining and many non-profit organizations just scraping by, computer donation is becoming an increasingly popular way for the corporate world to give back. After a refresh cycle is compete, what better way to deal with the old assets then giving them over to an organization that can really use them? It’s certainly better than letting them molder in storage somewhere, some companies reason, and a little good PR can never hurt.
For risk-averse companies, however, laptop donation, while an attractive option for IT asset disposition, isn’t so clear cut. Used IT assets often come with some features IT asset managers don’t want to let into the outside world:
- Sensitive data. Even if it has been deleted, if data hasn’t been properly sanitized from the drives of used IT equipment, it can be recovered fairly easily by those who know how. You need an auditable record of proper sanitization. The risk and compliance issues are the same as if you were selling the devices on the open market.
- Asset Management/Tracking. If different groups or individuals are handling the turnover to the charity, it can be difficult to have audible records of exactly which assets were removed from your control and when.
- Asset tags and other identifiers. It’s never a good idea for your equipment to carry your company’s identification if it’s no longer in service with your company. Corporate information, configuration and network details could still be on the system if it’s not properly processed.
- MS operating system license compliance. You company’s enterprise licenses are not necessarily transferable. If you remove the OS, then the charity has to buy a retail priced OS and load it themselves. If you leave it on, they will be using an invalid license, which poses security risks and usage issues for them.
Because of these risks, some companies choose to pass on the opportunity to donate their used equipment. Even if they have the capacity to properly wipe drives, remove asset tags and other identifiers, and remove and reinstall Windows under a new license, it is way too time-intensive and too costly. But companies don’t have to give up on this chartable endeavor just because it’s too risky or too much work. When companies ask us about the best way to donate their equipment, we suggest they find a third-party partner to do it for them.