Human Services

FREE WHEELCHAIR MISSION

  • Irvine, CA
  • www.freewheelchairmission.org

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide the transforming gift of mobility to people with disabilities in developing nations, as motivated by Jesus Christ.

Free Wheelchair Mission is a humanitarian, faith-based nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs at no cost to people with disabilities living in developing nations.

Since 2001, Free Wheelchair Mission has provided mobility medical supplies and services to people with disabilities in 93 developing nations. In 2017, we celebrate the delivery of our ONE MILLIONTH wheelchair.

Main Programs

  1. Wheelchair Program
  2. Gift-In-Kind-Program
  3. Research and Development Test Track
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Free Wheelchair Mission is a faith-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing wheelchairs for people with disabilities in developing nations.

Working in concert with a network of like-minded, humanitarian groups, Free Wheelchair Mission has sent over 971,000 wheelchairs to 93 countries around the world, delivering not only the gift of mobility, but dignity, independence and hope.

Free Wheelchair Mission provides wheelchairs to people in need and does not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality.

ruling year

2002

President since 2001

Self-reported

Dr. Don W. Schoendorfer PhD

Executive Director since 2017

Self-reported

Ms. Nuka Solomon

Keywords

Self-reported

relief, disability, physical challenges, international, wheelchair, mobility, crippled, immunization, faith-based

Notes from the Nonprofit

Free Wheelchair Mission is a faith-based, non-profit organization located in Irvine, California. Our mission is to provide the transforming gift of mobility to people with disabilities in developing nations as motivated by Jesus Christ.

Our vision is to be a world-class provider of mobility, transforming the lives of 100,000 people with disabilities annually.

Poverty, disease, malnutrition, armed conflict and lack of proper medical care are all major causes of disability in the developing world. Diseases eradicated in the developed world years ago are still prevalent elsewhere. Conflict is another contributing factor both in places where conflict is active and where the remnants (land mines, un-detonated bombs, IEDs) are left behind.

Poverty, however, is the biggest issue. Without money to seek medical attention simple injuries like broken bones, an easy fix in developed countries, go untreated. Birth defects tend to be more common and home child delivery is more frequent leading to more complications during childbirth. Factors like access to clean water and a steady, nutritious diet also play a role.

The life-changing gift of a wheelchair opens the doors to employment, education, access, dignity, opportunity and hope. Life will never be the same for a wheelchair recipient. But we give more than wheelchairs; Free Wheelchair Mission also utilizes a gift in kind program to offer crutches, walkers, canes, and surgical supplies.

Through collaboration with our distribution partners and local orthopedic hospitals, Free Wheelchair Mission arranged for over 1,458 surgeries to restore mobility to people in Vietnam and Cambodia with our partner, Giving It Back To Kids. We also partner with the Association for World Emergency Relief in Honduras, FEDES in Chile, Operation Blessing in Mexico, the American Nicaraguan Foundation in Nicaragua, Vista Para Todos in Ecuador, and Camino de Vida in Peru to provide medical mobility and surgical supplies to in country orthopedic and rehabilitation hospitals.

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EIN

31-1781635

 Number

1854117485

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Human Service Organizations (P20)

Health - General and Rehabilitative N.E.C. (E99)

International Relief (Q33)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Free Wheelchair Mission is a humanitarian, nonprofit organization providing medical mobility supplies and services to people with disabilities in developing countries, primarily through our flagship product-- wheelchairs. Since 2001, Free Wheelchair Mission has given wheelchairs to people in 93 countries, without regard to race, religion, ethnicity, or gender--2017 marks the delivery of our ONE MILLIONTH wheelchair.

Wheelchairs provide independence and hope. The gift of mobility enables people to attend school, gain employment, and engage in their community. Through an efficient method of manufacturing, shipping, and distribution, Free Wheelchair Mission currently sends wheelchairs to partners in the developing world for as little as $80 per person (all costs & expenses included).

Free Wheelchair Mission engineers have designed four generations of wheelchair models:
GEN_1- the original iconic wheelchair created from a resin lawn chair, bicycle tires and metal tubing.
GEN_2- a smaller wheelchair with a customizable fit received FDA clearance in 2012
GEN_3- a foldable version of the GEN_2 for ease in transportation/storage with FDA clearance in 2014
GEN_4- the commuter or COM is a hand pedal trike for longer distance travel to school and work; now in field tests

Wheelchairs are manufactured in Shanghai, China and shipped directly to the port of entry in each country. Once in port, partners clear the shipping container through customs, pay duties and tariffs incurred during importation, and arrange for overland transport, assembly, and distribution of the wheelchairs to recipients. Recipients then receive training and materials on the proper use and maintenance of their wheelchair, as well as contact information for repairs and questions.

We are expanding our training program to certify distribution partners with both instructional (classroom) and practical (hands-on) in wheelchair prescription. Although wheelchair fitting appears deceptively simple, it is a precise science. A poor wheelchair fit can actually be harmful to the wheelchair recipient. Our training program includes interactive activities, practical applications, classroom discussions, videos, and pictorial training guides developed in partnership with occupational therapists, physical therapists, and education professionals.




Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Wheelchair Program

Free Wheelchair Mission is a humanitarian, faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs at no cost to people with disabilities living in developing nations. In collaboration with a network of like-minded partners, Free Wheelchair Mission has sent more than 971,000 wheelchairs to people in 93 countries, providing dignity, independence and hope through the gift of mobility.

Category

Human Services

Population(s) Served

Physically Disabled nec

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$6,979,100.00

Program 2

Gift-In-Kind-Program

Free Wheelchair Mission's Gift-In-Kind program provides medical mobility supplies and services including walkers, canes, and crutches to people who do not need wheelchairs but still require assistance for mobility. We also provide aid that will prevent or reduce the severity of a disability through surgery or rehabilitation. Through collaboration with our distribution partners and local orthopedic hospitals, Free Wheelchair Mission arranges for dozens of surgeries that result in normal or close to normal mobility.

Category

Human Services

Population(s) Served

Physically Disabled nec

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$1,669,500.00

Program 3

Research and Development Test Track

On site TEST LAB- The construction of a new whole wheelchair test lab track which is currently being built on site at our headquarters in Irvine. This test lab will help us collect data for continued design improvements. Previously we relied on information from the field which is very expensive to collect and often unreliable. The test track will be operational by May 2017. We will open source the plans and schematics for other humanitarian wheelchair providers, as well as test their products at our location. We believe the problem of mobility in developing nations is too large for one nonprofit alone and collaboration makes all humanitarian organizations stronger.

Category

Human Services

Population(s) Served

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

286,318

Results

Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

1. Number of clients served

Target Population
People with physical disabilities

Connected to a Program?
Wheelchair Program
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
Free Wheelchair Mission tracks the number of wheelchairs provided using an Shipping Status Report or SSR. Weekly reports track the status of each order including manufacturing, shipping and arrival.

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Free Wheelchair Mission provides the transforming gift of mobility to people with disabilities in less resourced countries.

    Our wheelchairs are simple, cost-effective and highly functional. They are designed to be resilient enough to withstand regular use in rugged terrain more common place in the developing world.

    Our whole wheelchair Test Track Lab -operational in 2017-is the first of its kind and was designed to evaluate wheelchair designs for humanitarian use in the developing world. This lab compresses a full year of field testing in to a few hundred hours of lab testing. All Test Track Lab designs and schematics are open sourced for members of the International Society of Wheelchair Providers (ISWP) to replicate for their own use.

    The World Health Organization estimates 100 million people need wheelchairs in the developing world but are unable to obtain wheelchairs.
    The problem of mobility in the developing world is too large for one nonprofit alone to solve. Free Wheelchair Mission is working to collaborate with other nonprofits and humanitarian agencies to serve as many people as possible with the transforming gift of mobility- because no one should have to crawl.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Free Wheelchair Mission utilizes partners to place wheelchairs with recipients. There are over 100 partners working with Free Wheelchair Mission to import, assemble, and distribute wheelchairs.

    Free Wheelchair Mission delivers wheelchairs to collaborating partners who arrange home visits or group wheelchair distributions. Mass community distributions are often held in arenas, parks, stadiums, and town squares involving local officials and dignitaries. Each distribution is organized with five activities:
    1. Complete recipient paperwork
    2. Present message of hope and opportunity
    3. Prescribe the appropriate wheelchair
    4. Fit wheelchair to the user
    5. Train recipient in wheelchair use and maintenance


    Free Wheelchair Mission provides a 5 day certification training in wheelchair prescription to the staff and volunteers of distribution partners. These partners also review applications and select recipients as part of their humanitarian training. Wheelchair placements also include recipient and caregiver training vital to the health and safety of the recipient. The Free Wheelchair Mission business model is based on maintaining a balance of donors, recipients and distribution partners.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Free Wheelchair Mission piloted a Central America Partner Development project in 2017 to increase the capacity of our distribution network in Central America. This project encourages collaboration to enable deeper transformation for every wheelchair recipient. By evaluating every partner through the use of an in-depth matrix, Free Wheelchair Mission can ensure all distribution partners have the resources and training to grow with with us.

    A toolkit from this project will increase the effectiveness, utilization, sustainability, and safety of our products. Free Wheelchair Mission is also continually updating and improving our program offerings including in-person training, remote training, and a combination of the two for distribution partners around the world. This training includes interactive activities, practical application, and classroom-style discussion-based activities; all developed in partnership with occupational therapists, physical therapists, and education professionals.

    More than 600 people have participated in this training program since 2012, helping our distribution partners develop efficient, high-quality processes. In the future, we will expand the program with quarterly video and pictorial training sessions for continuing education and updates about product design changes.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Free Wheelchair Mission utilizes research studies to document how the gift of a free wheelchair can impact lives. A recently completed study- the Transformation Investigation quantified the impact of a Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchair in the lives of 600 recipients- 200 each in Uganda, Vietnam and Peru. Findings came from six surveys administered via in-person visits with each participant once every six months for three years. The data confirmed the positive benefits of a Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchair in eight areas: spiritual, educational, financial, social, physical health, mobility, psychological health, and overall wheelchair durability.

    Findings from our investigation include:

    97% of Free Wheelchair Mission recipients believe their wheelchair is an answer to prayer.

    95% believe their wheelchair is a gift from God.

    Of those who were of school age, 9.4% were now able to attend school in our wheelchair.

    47% said their wheelchair is fully/partially responsible for their employment.

    The data from this study was independently analyzed by Dr. Susan Shore of Azusa Pacific University. Her findings confirm Free Wheelchair Mission wheelchair recipients in less resourced countries of the world benefit from the gift of our wheelchairs with positive impacts in employment, income and mobility into the community.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    We have come a long way since 2001. Free Wheelchair Mission marks the deliver of the ONE MILLIONTH wheelchair in 2017. There are still millions of people with disabilities in need of a wheelchair.

    The stigma of disability in the developing world is often heartbreaking. Free Wheelchair Mission is working to open the conversation on disability stereotypes, cultural interpretations, and myths to clarify the facts about disability causes. We hope to help initiate a discussion on the hardship of disability in the developing world to advocate for those without a voice.
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

Free Wheelchair Mission is a faith-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing wheelchairs for people with disabilities in developing nations.

Working in concert with a network of like-minded, humanitarian groups, Free Wheelchair Mission has sent over 971,000 wheelchairs to 93 countries around the world, delivering not only the gift of mobility, but dignity, independence and hope.

Free Wheelchair Mission provides wheelchairs to people in need and does not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality.

Social Media

Blog

Funding Needs

Free Wheelchair Mission's strives to be a world-class provider of mobility, transforming the lives of people with disabilities throughout the developing world. An estimated 100 million people with disabilities in the developing world need a wheelchair but are unable to obtain one. Free Wheelchair Mission is working to distribute 100,000 chairs annually. In 2017, we will distribute our ONE MILLIONTH wheelchair. Free Wheelchair Mission is focused on becoming a leading provider of mobility in developing nations, but beyond placing recipients in a wheelchair, Free Wheelchair Mission is bringing transformation to open doors to education, employment opportunities and socialization. For less than $100 per person we can provide mobility, independence, hope and dignity. With a wheelchair children can attend school, adults can hold jobs, and the elderly can care for themselves.

Accreditations

Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)

Charity Navigator

Affiliations + Memberships

Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability - Member

Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability - Member

Videos

photos


External Reviews

Source: greatnonprofits.org

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Free Wheelchair Mission
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

FREE WHEELCHAIR MISSION

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2015
  • Board Chair and Board Members
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President

Dr. Don W. Schoendorfer PhD

Executive Director

Ms. Nuka Solomon

BIO

Don Schoendorfer is a biomedical engineer who makes his home in Santa Ana, California, with his wife and three daughters. He has an undergraduate degree from Columbia University and holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Professionally, Don has headed R&D Departments in numerous biomedical companies including Haemonetics and Baxter Healthcare. He holds more than 50 U.S. Patents in the field of medical technology and pioneered practical transdermal diagnostics as well as blood cell separation technology. About 15 years ago Don turned his God-given and MIT-developed engineering talents to solving the problem of immobility in developing nations. There are over 100 million disabled adults and children in the developing world, many of whom are poor and isolated. The causes of disability range from diseases that have been eradicated elsewhere, to injuries from land-mines and war. For many of these people, medical aid is simply not available - adaptive equipment is even scarcer. Dr. Schoendorfer devised an answer to the need for mobility: a low-cost, high-durability wheelchair made from a resin lawn chair, metal tubing, and bicycle tires dubbed the GEN_1. This innovative solution to a pressing problem can be manufactured, shipped and delivered at a low cost. In 2010 FWM introduced the GEN_2 wheelchair: an evolution of the iconic GEN_1 design, which is designed to be a more adaptable, but still low-cost, version of its predecessor. Articles have been written about Free Wheelchair Mission by USA Today, Readers Digest, The Orange County Register, The Los Angeles Times and People Magazine. Don was personally honored with the Above and Beyond Citizen Award by the White House Congressional Medal of Honor Society; one of three individuals selected to receive the honor in 2008 at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, for the work that Free Wheelchair Mission has done around the world.

STATEMENT FROM THE President

"Our mission is to transform lives through the gift of mobility as motivated by Jesus Christ. Our wheelchairs cost just $80 to manufacture and deliver, and are provided at absolutely no cost to the recipient.

Thanks to the support of our donors, Free Wheelchair Mission has been able to manufacture and ship over 971,000 wheelchairs to those with disabilities all over the world. The need for wheelchairs in our world is staggering. In developing nations where poverty pervades, it is estimated that 100 million people are in dire need of a wheelchair, yet lack the resources to obtain one. Already suffering from the pain, isolation and indignity of a physical disability, many of these people must endure further burdens, many forced to live on the ground or wait to be carried to meet their most basic of needs. Poverty, disease, malnutrition, armed conflict, and lack of proper medical care are all major causes of disability in the developing world. Diseases eradicated in the developed world years ago are still prevalent elsewhere. Conflict is another contributing factor both in places where conflict is active and where the remnants (land mines un-detonated bombs, IEDs) are left behind. Poverty, however, is the biggest issue. Without money to seek medical attention, simple injuries like broken bones that would be simple to fix in developed countries, go untreated. Birth defects tend to be more common and home child delivery is more frequent which can have more complications during childbirth. Factors like access to clean water and a steady, nutritious diet also play a role. Our wheelchairs are simple, cost-effective, and highly functional. They are designed with resources in mind, with the goal of providing the transforming gift of mobility to as many people as possible while still maintaining a standard of excellence. We partner with like-minded organizations to reach some of the most remote regions on the planet. And we do it for an astonishingly reasonable cost of less than $100 per wheelchair including all manufacturing, shipping, and distribution costs, yet still free to the recipient and their families. "

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. Jim Franklin

Harbro Company

Term: June 2004 - June 2017

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


ORGANIZATIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Diversity Strategies
No
We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
No
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
No
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
No
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
No
We have a diversity committee in place
No
We have a diversity manager in place
No
We have a diversity plan
No
We use other methods to support diversity