the Rc model
At Redemptive Cycles, our mission is to redeem the streets. We believe getting people on bikes makes Birmingham a more connected, comfortable, and livable city. Bicycles are affordable transportation, which not only fight congestion, parking shortages, and pollution in the city center, but also boost individual health and fitness!
Through our nonprofit bike shop we sell new and refurbished bicycles at an affordable price, provide professional-quality repairs and maintenance services below market rates, and use a sliding-scale rate to reduce repair charges based on income level those in need. Through our “Earn-A-Bike” program, those in need can volunteer at the shop, learn how to repair and maintain a bicycle, and leave with a bike of their own.
Since opening in July of 2013, Redemptive Cycles has operated as a nonprofit organization, and it received its 501c3 status in September 2014. So how does a nonprofit bike shop work? In our case, it looks and operates mostly like a normal bike shop: new and used bikes are for sale along with parts and accessories, and we offer full service repairs. What makes us different is the variety of nonprofit services we offer to Birmingham-area cyclists: the Earn-a-Bike program, sliding-scale repairs, free monthly mechanics classes, and a free public workstation - not to mention many volunteer opportunities and a community of cyclists eager to help one another.
Our nonprofit sustains itself in a variety of ways. First and foremost is through the bike shop itself. Shop revenue not only allows us to give bikes and repairs away, it also helps keep our doors open. However, used bike sales and discounted repairs are not enough, and we look to our community for support when shop revenue falls short of the bottom line.
From the community, we get support in a few key ways. First of all, Redemptive Cycles relies heavily on volunteer labor. Without the resources to pay a full staff we look to our awesome and dedicated staff of volunteers to provide much of the labor necessary to keep the bike shop running at full steam. Volunteers are integral to Redemptive Cycles’ continued success.
We also rely on our community to provide the majority of our used bike and part offerings. Bike donations are our bread and butter. They provide us with a well-stocked, affordably-priced used bike selection, as well as a supply of bikes to utilize through the Earn-A-Bike program. Without frequent bike donations Redemptive Cycles would struggle to maintain a good used bike selection or to provide services to those without access to transportation.
Finally, we look to our community for support through monetary donations. When revenue from the bike shop falls short, Redemptive Cycles asks the community to help make up the difference. Our annual fundraiser and individual donations enable us to continue offering bicycle related services to the Birmingham area, and in the future, with the help of grants, we hope to further expand our outreach.
In 2015 Redemptive Cycles expects to bring in $150,000 in revenue, and we need to raise at least $50,000 through fundraisers, private donations, and grants in order to sustain our charitable services. Combining the bike shop and nonprofit is the most efficient way to help those in need of bike services. Revenue from the shop goes directly towards sustaining our charitable services, and because things like rent and utilities are shared with Faith Skate, the nonprofit costs only a fraction of what it would otherwise take to operate.