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Identifying recipients and their needs

First, you need to think about who would benefit from access to devices and ensure you understand their needs. In our communities, there are school children with no means of doing schoolwork or keeping in touch with their peers. Hidden from sight are elderly people with no way of connecting with their loved ones. Held back by circumstance are adults keen to improve their job prospects but unable to access free online training or search the internet for more fulfilling positions. 

Unfortunately, these people – the ones who need the technology the most - are those least likely to be able to afford new devices and connections.

You can help the digitally disconnected by creating a Reboot programme to collect, restore and rehome unused devices. Before you start, it’s vital to understand your potential recipients. Here’s how…


Key insights

  • Asking the community

    Asking community organisations who they think would benefit is a good starting point. Schools, libraries and online learning centres can all be of assistance. You can find out more about local community organisations by:

    As well as helping you identify recipients, community organisations may have existing capabilities which could be of use. You’ll find out more about these in later steps.

  • Understanding your recipients’ needs

    It’s important not to make assumptions. Make sure that you ask recipients what they want to achieve using technology so you can identify the right devices for them. You’ll also need to assess their capabilities.

    Techniques to help you understand your recipients’ needs and capabilities include:

    • Running small focus groups with potential recipients
    • Sending out surveys within the community using Twitter and Facebook
    • Speaking to professionals who support potential recipients on a regular basis


    One of our partner schemes discovered a strong demand for smartphones, even amongst people who had never owned one.

Identifying and understanding recipient groups

Option 1. Owning the relationship with recipients

Working independently to identify and understand recipient needs is best done when you have an existing relationship with them.

A partner scheme asked its potential users to self-identify at their regular support meeting if they didn’t have access to a device.


  • If you have an existing relationship with a recipient group, this is a really effective way to get started
  • You’ll have more control and visibility throughout the process


  • It may slow you down if you need to build a relationship or trust with recipients first
  • There’s a risk that you may incorrectly define user needs

Option 2. Working with community partners

Identifying and working with community partners early in the process can enable you to identify groups which they have a relationship with AND utilise their existing capabilities and strengths throughout your Reboot process. 

You can approach community support providers and groups for help, either directly or through social media. For example:

  • Schools and colleges: will know of children who can’t study remotely 
  • Hospitals: will know of patients who can’t access remote medical appointments
  • Jobcentres: will know of candidates who can’t take part in online skills training or apply for jobs
  • Libraries: will know of people who come in just to use the internet

A partner scheme identified a group of local charities, overseen by an umbrella body. The charities helped them understand the needs of a range of potential users. The umbrella scheme’s partners also helped them set up a successful device restoration process.


  • You can piggyback off existing, trusted relationships
  • Partners will already have the skills needed to communicate with your recipients
  • Partners will already understand safeguarding requirements
  • You may be able to tap into existing schemes with similar aims


  • You’ll lose some control over who will receive devices and what support is on offer, you can mitigate this by setting expectations with partner/s

Things to think about

  • Who’s in your area

    What groups exist in the local area that would be open to partnerships and have capabilities that will help you make your scheme a success?

  • Spreading your net

    Do you want to help one specific group (e.g. a school) or do you want to make a regional or national impact?

  • Other factors

    Think about how a recipient’s needs and other factors, such as age, IT skills, mobility and internet access, affect the type of device that’s needed. We’ll look at these next.

  • Existing schemes

    Are there any similar schemes operating in your chosen area?

  • Legal requirements

    It’s your responsibility to understand and comply with applicable laws including and in relation to the collection and use of personal data and all safeguarding.

Next Step

Identifying suitable devices

Let’s think about the types of devices you want to provide to recipients. Different user groups will have different needs. Furthermore, some devices are easier to restore than others, but you can make the process fit your capabilities by restricting what people can donate. By the end of this step, you’ll have identified which devices are right for you and your potential recipients. You'll also be able to decide if you want to set strict or relaxed guidelines for potential donors.


Ready to get started?

If you’re interested in setting up a Reboot project, why not download the full Reboot playbook? Regardless of your budget and IT skills, it will help you develop a well-structured Reboot process and maximise your donations!