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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.


Key insights

  • Laptops

    Laptops are harder to restore than smartphones and tablets. If you have techies or a commercial restoration company to help, you’ll be able to accept older laptops which need a little more TLC. If not, consider restricting the age of items accepted or consider restricting the age of items accepted or limiting donations to smartphones and/or tablets.

  • Smartphones and tablets

    These are easier to restore. All you need to do is ask donors to factory reset their devices and check that they have done so. However, just like laptops, you only want ones that work effectively and have no major defects such as cracked screens.

Communicating your needs

Option 1. Setting strict guidelines

It makes sense to set different guidelines for laptops and smartphones/tablets, as below:


If you have limited technical knowhow, you can ask donors for laptops which are less than five to seven years old, in good working order and with no major defects. It’s especially important to ensure that the battery and hard drive are in good working order. We suggest asking for laptops rather than desktops as many user groups, especially schools, cannot accept desktops.


For smartphones and tablets, we suggest avoiding devices which are over five years old. One of our partner schemes found that devices older than this were hard to update to the latest operating system. You need to make sure that devices consistently turn on, that their software is working and they have been factory reset. In terms of functionality, we recommend that all smartphones and tablets meet their users’ needs by having:

  • A working camera and video functionality
  • A working touchscreen
  • WiFi/3G capabilities
  • A battery which retains charge

If you have limited technological skill, it makes sense to focus your efforts on smartphones and tablets as these are easier to restore.


  • Setting an age limit improves the quality and usability of donated devices
  • Setting strict requirements makes it easier to meet demand for specialist devices from user groups, e.g. schools who can’t accept desktops


  • Setting strict requirements can reduce the number of devices donated

Option 2. Setting more relaxed guidelines

Being less strict about what you can accept will encourage more donations. However, you need to give careful thought to the skills and budget you have available to restore older devices.


  • Donors will be able to empty their cupboards and give you more devices


  • You may end up being charged to dispose of unsuitable items (see below)

Things to think about

  • Handling unsuitable devices

    A device recycling organisation or charity may be able to help you recycle unsuitable devices whilst helping you comply with legal and regulatory requirements. Alternatively, you may be able to avoid disposal costs by recycling them via your local council (check if that’s possible in your area) or by donating them to a charity. Doing so avoids sending devices to landfill which is both a security and an environmental risk.

    A partner scheme was able to recycle unsuitable devices using a local commercial partner.

Next Step

Sourcing accessories

Now, it’s time to think about accessories. Devices are useless without chargers and other accessories.


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!