According to a May 2007 World Health Organization publication, "An estimated 1% of the world's population, or just over 65 million people, need a wheelchair." Many of those people lack the funds to buy a wheelchair, while others own a wheelchair they no longer need. Rather than take a used wheelchair to the city dump, it's easy to find an organisation that accepts wheelchair donations, either for the organisation's own use or to give to a needy recipient.
Local organisations often need wheelchairs. Contact a nearby church, which may make wheelchairs available for handicapped visitors. Or call a community organisation such as Rotary, Knights of Columbus or Veterans of Foreign Wars. Consider area nursing homes, or a local sorority if you live in a university town. Many of these groups can match used wheelchairs to people in need. To give a wheelchair directly to an individual, post a free ad on Craigslist or Freecycle.
Several national non-profit organisations accept donations of used wheelchairs. Among them are Alternatives in Motion, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and Wheels of Love. The American Red Cross sometimes accepts used wheelchairs for use with its emergency assistance programs, as do organisations that train animals for patients confined to wheelchairs, such as Canine Companions for Independence. The U.S. military in Iraq has sponsored projects to provide wheelchairs for people in need as well. Contact a local armed forces base to see if there is a current campaign.
Several organisations, such as Chariots of Hope, send used wheelchairs to developing nations. Contact the organisation directly to make a donation. Or visit Wheels for Humanity's website, which lists several organisations that accept wheelchairs for international distribution.