(c) 2022 The Buy Nothing Project, Inc.
About the Buy Nothing Fine Print
Commonly Asked Questions
Popular General Questions
How do I get started and what can I do in my local Buy Nothing group?

It's easy to get started - just start posting! Here's a breakdown of the sorts of posts you can share with your Buy Nothing group: 


  • GIVE: Offers of any goods or service you’d like to share, loan, or give away.
  • ASK: Requests for services or any goods you’d like to borrow or keep.
  • GRATITUDE: Sharing the gratitude is what fuels the magic.

Aside from gifts of goods and services, there are a few other types of gifts that fit into our mission:


Gifts of Self:

A Gift of Self is something that one participant can do for another. It could be an evening of babysitting, a ride for an errand, help in the garden, a request for a spiritual act like prayer or meditation, even the gift of your own company in the form of a game of Scrabble, or anything else that one neighbor might do for another neighbor.


Gifts of Talent:

A Gift of Talent is anything that one participant can teach another. Examples include: cooking or canning classes, computer lessons, tutoring or anything else that you would like to learn or teach.


Gifts of Time:

A Gift of time refers to offering or asking for someone to spend time with you. Examples include: jogging/walking/workout buddies, coffee/tea meet-ups, playdates for kids or pets, organizing an activity for the members of your group. This does not include open invitations to attend events that are also advertised elsewhere and open to the public, unless the recipient will be attending as a guest (or date) of the giver.


Gifts of Buy Nothing-ness:

Please DO share information about the Buy Nothing Project movement, events, and resources that provide inspiration and education about how to bring Buy Nothing to life. We're all for posts that bring people from Buy Nothing communities around the world together, in person and/or online. 


To learn more about what you can do in a Buy Nothing group and how it all works, you can check out the free Buy Nothing Academy, visit our Help site, and/or read our book (you can check your public library for a copy).

What if I don't have anything to give?
You don't have to Give anything to be an important member of your local Buy Nothing group! But posting a Give feels great for the giver, the recipient, and the entire community. If you don't have items you're able to give away, consider one of these other classic Buy Nothing gifts: 

Gifts of Self:

A Gift of Self is something that one participant can do for another. It could be an evening of babysitting, a ride for an errand, help in the garden, a request for a spiritual act like prayer or meditation, even the gift of your own company in the form of a game of Scrabble, or anything else that one neighbor might do for another neighbor.


Gifts of Talent:

A Gift of Talent is anything that one participant can teach another. Examples include: cooking or canning classes, computer lessons, tutoring or anything else that you would like to learn or teach.


Gifts of Time:

A Gift of time refers to offering or asking for someone to spend time with you. Examples include: jogging/walking/workout buddies, coffee/tea meet-ups, playdates for kids or pets, organizing an activity for the members of your group. This does not include open invitations to attend events that are also advertised elsewhere and open to the public, unless the recipient will be attending as a guest (or date) of the giver.


Gifts of Buy Nothing-ness:

Please DO share information about the Buy Nothing Project movement, events, and resources that provide inspiration and education about how to bring Buy Nothing to life. We're all for posts that bring people from Buy Nothing communities around the world together, in person and/or online. 

Does my need for something surpass another’s want for the same item?
Needs and Wants are of equal value in the Buy Nothing Project. People ask for things they want and things they need, and the same goes for offers. Each time a gift is offered in a Give post, the Giver is in total control of how, when, and why they choose the recipient(s) of their gift. No one is under any obligation to rank "need" above "want" in any way (although of course people can decide to do that when they're giving their own Buy Nothing gifts away - the Giver is always, always in charge). 
Giving is easier for me than asking. How can I overcome that?

Be a Both a Giver and an Asker:

If no one asked in their Buy Nothing groups, we wouldn’t be able to build gift economies. No single person is an island, so the key to a healthy gift economy is BOTH the giving and receiving. As we wrote in our book, “The ask, and the act of receiving, is the critically important other half of the gift economy equation. Asking requires trust, courage, a willingness to show our vulnerability, and faith that our requests will not diminish our value or respect in the eyes of others. In truth, our requests foster interdependence that benefits us all.”

Can I request information or advice?
We welcome discussions that are sparked by the giving, asking, and gratitude shared in the groups. All of our stuff and gifts of self can be great starting points for building connections between us. Please refer to our “Show your humanity” rule and to the Community Agreement created by the Equity Team to guide your discussions.

We ask that every discussion start naturally in response to a give, and ask, or sharing of gratitude. We also allow questions and discussions about the Buy Nothing Project, how to further the Buy Nothing Project mission to build inclusive and equitable gift economies, the platforms groups use, and gift economy culture, including links to relevant articles and information.

We welcome all perspectives about Buy Nothing groups. Discussions about improving the gift economy groups can be uncomfortable for some, and may include statements that are angry (including the use of profanity that isn’t directed at other people) or otherwise emotional, and that may mention other members by name or situation. No one can use threats or hate speech, but even difficult, controversial, and emotional discussions are welcome provided that they follow the Community Agreement.

We welcome discussions about reuse, repairing, and upcycling items that are given and asked for in the groups. If you are looking for information or advice about how to make something, how to reuse something, or how to repair something yourself, those make wonderful gifts of self that you are welcome to request here.

We welcome efforts like this that help people live a Buy Nothing lifestyle. This includes requesting or offering information about where things that no one wants as a gift can be reused/recycled/upcycled to keep as much as possible out of landfills and incinerators (check with your group admin(s) to see if there’s a Buy Nothing Re-Use Store – Your Local Zero Waste Roadmap document in your group’s Files for this sort of information).

Your Buy Nothing group is not the place for personal status updates; promotion of current political parties, candidates or ballot options; religious conversion efforts; offering unsolicited advice; outside-of-this-group community announcements, discussions, or invitations to public events; lost and found pets or items.
Can I offer goods or services from my business?

The answer to this is here in the Fine Print:

Participate As Yourself:

  • If your Buy Nothing group is using Facebook or a similar online platform, you must use your personal account, and not a business account.
  • You may share or request goods or services from or for your business, school, charity or other organization, as long as those offers or requests are not presented as a way of marketing, advertising, recruiting, promoting or otherwise “spreading the word” about your business or organization.
  • You may request and offer gifts in your group on behalf of your family, friends, organizations, etc. If you know someone who wants to participate in a Buy Nothing group and is able to do so, please help them establish membership in their own local Buy Nothing group. If you know someone who can participate with assistance, that is a welcome gift of self to offer. You can help them participate in any way that makes their Buy Nothing group accessible to them. We ask all group leaders and participants to expand their understanding of what accessibility and inclusion looks like to allow for shared accounts, people who offer and request on behalf of others, and people whose abilities and circumstances impact their participation in ways that may be new to you. Gift economies are especially strong when individuals are empowered to participate directly, as themselves, and there is a beautiful diversity in how this manifests.

How Does "Participate As Yourself" Work in Practice?

Let’s say you’re a professional fish groomer, and you want to share your skills. You could definitely offer your services, but they’d need to come from you, without any mention of your business name, directions to your business office, store, or website, or anything else that might even remotely smack of marketing or advertising. You could say something like “Offered: One grooming session for your goldfish. I’m a professional fish groomer and would love to give an hour of my time to help your Goldie look her best. Please let me know if your fish could use a spa day. If there’s a lot of interest, I’ll choose a recipient tomorrow around 8 pm.” As with everything, the offer needs to be completely free, given with no expectation of any return or reward. It’s fine if a conversation develops and people ask about your work, your training or expertise, your business, etc – there’s a difference between natural conversation between neighbors who are interested in learning about each other and using the group for marketing. In a Buy Nothing group, we practice building relationships through natural conversations, knowing this leads to a more resilient real life community in many ways.

Can I ask for donations of stuff for a fundraiser or charity I’m helping with?

The answer to this question is here in the Fine Print:

Participate As Yourself

  • If your Buy Nothing group is using Facebook or a similar online platform, you must use your personal account, and not a business account.
  • You may share or request goods or services from or for your business, school, charity or other organization, as long as those offers or requests are not presented as a way of marketing, advertising, recruiting, promoting or otherwise “spreading the word” about your business or organization.
  • You may request and offer gifts in your group on behalf of your family, friends, organizations, etc. If you know someone who wants to participate in a Buy Nothing group and is able to do so, please help them establish membership in their own local Buy Nothing group. If you know someone who can participate with assistance, that is a welcome gift of self to offer. You can help them participate in any way that makes their Buy Nothing group accessible to them. We ask all group leaders and participants to expand their understanding of what accessibility and inclusion looks like to allow for shared accounts, people who offer and request on behalf of others, and people whose abilities and circumstances impact their participation in ways that may be new to you. Gift economies are especially strong when individuals are empowered to participate directly, as themselves, and there is a beautiful diversity in how this manifests.


Can I resell items I receive here?
Here's the answer from the Build Trust section of the Fine Print: 
  • Reselling: There is no rule against the reselling of Buy Nothing Project gifts outside of the groups, but reselling must be done in ways that build trust. You simply need to share your intent to resell a gift when you request it. Givers are always free to give as they choose, and the disclosure of reselling respects each participant’s right to make informed and mindful choices about their giving. Many people are happy to give gifts that will be sold elsewhere to support organizations they respect, to help neighbors make a living by reselling, or to provide materials for artists and craftspeople who reuse gifted materials in their work. It is the responsibility of people who resell gifts to openly and clearly explain this when they ask for gifts they’d like to resell.
Can I find a plumber/electrician/other service provider here?
This answer is in the We Are a Gift Economy section of the Fine Print:

This is not the place to refer people to ways to meet their needs or desires through the market economy. This means the following things are not allowed here: marketing or advertising; referrals to services or work that's bought, sold, rented, or traded; offers or requests for paid employment; offers of items for sale, trade or rent; GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaigns and the like, requests for items you’d like to buy or rent; items you wish to barter, trade or exchange; real estate for sale or rent; encouraging people to buy, sell, or trade items or services elsewhere.

Ask your local group’s leader(s) for your group’s policy on coupons, gift cards, and gifts of cash.
This is the perfect place to offer and offer free gifts of all legal kinds, including free gifts of self in the form of services, skills, assistance, items of all kinds and in all conditions, etc. You may request or offer anything you might otherwise want or need to buy; since this is the Buy Nothing Project, you just may find what you want and need here without buying it.
Can I ask where I can buy something locally or online?

The answer to your question is in the following section of the Fine Print:

We Are A Gift Economy (No Buying/Selling/Trading)

  • This is not the place to refer people to ways to meet their needs or desires through the market economy. This means the following things are not allowed here: marketing or advertising; referrals to services or work that's bought, sold, rented, or traded; offers or requests for paid employment; offers of items for sale, trade or rent; GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaigns and the like, requests for items you’d like to buy or rent; items you wish to barter, trade or exchange; real estate for sale or rent; encouraging people to buy, sell, or trade items or services elsewhere.
  • Ask your local group’s leader(s) for your group’s policy on coupons, gift cards, and gifts of cash.
  • This is the perfect place to offer and offer free gifts of all legal kinds, including free gifts of self in the form of services, skills, assistance, items of all kinds and in all conditions, etc. You may request or offer anything you might otherwise want or need to buy; since this is the Buy Nothing Project, you just may find what you want and need here without buying it.
Can I direct people in need to our local food bank and other community resources?

The answer to this question is in the following section of the Fine Print:

Give From Your Own Abundance

  • Please do not tell people where they can purchase an item, pay for a service, or receive charitable assistance. If you know of a free assistance program or free community resource that would be helpful to your group, we encourage you to check in with your group’s leader(s) about the creation of a Community Resource document in the group’s Files.

  • The Buy Nothing Project welcomes the creation of a Community Resources file in your Buy Nothing group to list and link to all of the community resources that group members may find useful. The co-founders of the Buy Nothing Project believe that creating one document as a go-to resource for these links can help the group by providing permanent access to these resources in a way that doesn’t take up space in the daily feed. This gift economy was set up as an experiment to see just how many of the community’s needs can be met right here in the group. The creation of a Community Resources document is optional; check with your group’s leader(s)about their approach to this.

  • The traditional charity and community support paradigm often splits people into “haves” and “have-nots,” and the two aren’t on equal footing. The Buy Nothing Project is not a charity, it’s a network of person-to-person gift economies that can subvert this traditional have-have not relationship. Everyone here is both a “have” with things to give away (whether those are tangible goods or gifts of self), and a “have not” with wants and needs that the group can help fulfill.

  • Please do not direct each other to charitable organizations to meet requests shared in your Buy Nothing group. Focus instead on helping each other whenever and however you can with your own hands, time, stuff, and presence. This social experiment is about finding ways to strengthen connections between neighbors through giving, receiving, and sharing creatively.
Can I offer or request political action?
This topic is discussed in the following 3 areas of the Fine Print:

  • Build Trust: Recruiting:
  • Do not use Buy Nothing groups as a means for collecting personal information about your neighbors, or to recruit people to join your religion, political party/candidate/ballot option, business or other organization. Buy Nothing groups are inclusive and equitable at their core. All group members should be respected as equals, just as they are.

  • We Welcome Discussions:
  • Your Buy Nothing group is not the place for personal status updates; promotion of current political parties, candidates or ballot options; religious conversion efforts; offering unsolicited advice; outside-of-this-group community announcements, discussions, or invitations to public events; lost and found pets or items.

Keep It Legal: 

  • Don’t offer or request anything illegal. Follow all national, regional, and local laws, as well as the Terms of Service and community standards of any platform you’re using.
  • The Buy Nothing Project also prohibits giving or asking for items that endorse or oppose any current political party, candidate, or ballot option.
  • The Buy Nothing Project does allow neighbors to request, give, and receive items (example: signs, banners), and supplies to create these items, in support of social movements and events (example: Black Lives Matter, Pride parades, memorial vigils).
Can I look for or offer a place to live?
Short Answer: Yes, as long as you're requesting or offering FREE housing without any trading, bartering, rent, or other recompense. And remember that you participate at your own risk and must do your own research to insure that any free housing is safe, etc. 

Please see the We Are A Gift Economy section of the Fine Print for a longer answer and more details: 

  • This is not the place to refer people to ways to meet their needs or desires through the market economy. This means the following things are not allowed here: marketing or advertising; referrals to services or work that's bought, sold, rented, or traded; offers or requests for paid employment; offers of items for sale, trade or rent; GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaigns and the like, requests for items you’d like to buy or rent; items you wish to barter, trade or exchange; real estate for sale or rent; encouraging people to buy, sell, or trade items or services elsewhere.

  • Ask your local group’s leader(s) for your group’s policy on coupons, gift cards, and gifts of cash.

  • This is the perfect place to offer and offer free gifts of all legal kinds, including free gifts of self in the form of services, skills, assistance, items of all kinds and in all conditions, etc. You may request or offer anything you might otherwise want or need to buy; since this is the Buy Nothing Project, you just may find what you want and need here without buying it.
How can my group become a brave space for discussions about white supremacy and racism, and about how these show up in what happens here?
Please see the following section of the Fine Print for information we hope you'll find helpful: 

We Welcome Discussions:

We welcome discussions that are sparked by the giving, asking, and gratitude shared in the groups. All of our stuff and gifts of self can be great starting points for building connections between us. Please refer to our “Show your humanity” rule and to the Community Agreement created by the Equity Team to guide your discussions.


We ask that every discussion start naturally in response to a give, and ask, or sharing of gratitude. We also allow questions and discussions about the Buy Nothing Project, how to further the Buy Nothing Project mission to build inclusive and equitable gift economies, the platforms groups use, and gift economy culture, including links to relevant articles and information.


We welcome all perspectives about Buy Nothing groups. Discussions about improving the gift economy groups can be uncomfortable for some, and may include statements that are angry (including the use of profanity that isn’t directed at other people) or otherwise emotional, and that may mention other members by name or situation. No one can use threats or hate speech, but even difficult, controversial, and emotional discussions are welcome provided that they follow the Community Agreement.


We welcome discussions about reuse, repairing, and upcycling items that are given and asked for in the groups. If you are looking for information or advice about how to make something, how to reuse something, or how to repair something yourself, those make wonderful gifts of self that you are welcome to request here. We welcome efforts like this that help people live a Buy Nothing lifestyle. This includes requesting or offering information about where things that no one wants as a gift can be reused/recycled/upcycled to keep as much as possible out of landfills and incinerators (check with your group admin(s) to see if there’s a Buy Nothing Re-Use Store – Your Local Zero Waste Roadmap document in your group’s Files for this sort of information).


Your Buy Nothing group is not the place for personal status updates; promotion of current political parties, candidates or ballot options; religious conversion efforts; offering unsolicited advice; outside-of-this-group community announcements, discussions, or invitations to public events; lost and found pets or items.

Why was I removed from my group?
Please read this section of the Fine Print: 

Grounds for Removal from Group

If your group’s leaders discover that you have joined multiple groups, that you have moved or live outside of the boundaries of their group, or that you do not meet the criteria for “adult,” they may remove you from their groups. 

Further grounds for removal are described in this document, and may include but are not limited to:

  • Spam, advertising/marketing, or offering items or services for rent, sale, barter, or trade
  • Joining any group with a fraudulent account(s) or with the purpose to defraud others
  • Hate speech, cruelty, or threats towards or between group members
  • Dishonesty or obtaining items under false pretenses in order to sell said items without disclosing that intention
  • Repeated instances of disregard for the rules or principles
  • Blocking or refusing to communicate with a group leader
  • Repeated complaints about the group or rules
  • Statements that make it clear to the group and its leaders that you do not intend to build trust or participate in line with the mission and rules. 
  • Using the group as a platform for promoting any personal agenda that doesn’t meet the mission or rules of the Buy Nothing Project.

If you believe you were removed from your Buy Nothing group for some reason not listed here, contact the local volunteer leaders of your group. Each local Buy Nothing group outside of our independent app is led only by its local volunteers, and they alone have the power to add or remove members. We have resources here to help with situations like this. 
Questions About Eligibility
What do you mean by “adult”?
Our definition of “adult” refers to the *most restrictive* definition in your area (country/state/county/city). In most cases, this age is the legal drinking age, but this is not always the case. By using the most restrictive age requirement, we are able to freely give things in our groups that would otherwise be disallowed, including items of an adult nature. This way, everyone truly has the legal right to participate at their own risk, per their local laws.
Can I join more than one group?
The answer depends on which group(s) you want to join! Some Buy Nothing groups welcome people who are members of multiple local communities, and therefore regularly active in more than one Buy Nothing group's geographic service area. Some groups use the original "one group per person" rule that we started out with, when we were working to establish Buy Nothing groups for every neighborhood across North America (and then on other continents). And everyone is always welcome to participate in Buy Nothing on our independent platform (BuyNothing the app, available for iPhone and Android) in addition to more private Buy Nothing groups (our app has features and functions not available on other platforms, and is structured differently by design).

Local group admins decide what approach to membership will serve their community, so if you would like to see a different approach, please talk with your local group's admin(s). There's much more detailed information about the two different approaches regarding membership taken by Buy Nothing groups using Facebook and other platforms to connect, here in this section of the Fine Print:

Respect Your Group's Approach to Membership and Geographic Boundaries

Buy Nothing communities using Facebook use two different approaches:

The Buy Nothing Project was founded around the idea that local gift economies empower each person to Give Where You Live to create a resilient network of connections that see entire communities through times of joy and sorrow, ease and hardship. As part of this, we originally asked people to join only one Buy Nothing Facebook group, the one where they lived, and we helped people set up only one Facebook group per neighborhood. Things have changed a lot since then! You can read more about what we’ve learned along the way in this blog post.


Please reach out to your group’s leaders to learn which of these approaches they’ve chosen to serve your Buy Nothing community’s Facebook group.

We’ve put what we’ve learned into practice. Now our Buy Nothing Project Fine Print document offers two basic approaches for each Buy Nothing group on Facebook to choose from:


  • Flexible Membership, Soft Boundaries

These groups use the following wording regarding membership requests and Facebook group boundaries:


Our group serves the community identified in our name and description. If you identify as a member of our community, we welcome your full participation in our group. We ask that you invest your time and energy in making connections with us here, since the real wealth being built in our group is the strong network of connections between the people here. Please Give, Ask, and share your Gratitude partihere, making this Buy Nothing gift economy a focus of your everyday life. We need your active presence here in order to succeed as a community, so please start sharing!


  • One Group Per Person, Give Where You Live

These groups use the following wording regarding membership requests and Facebook group boundaries:

In order to join this group, you must reside within its designated boundaries. If you have more than one home, are without a permanent residence, or are traveling, we will ask you to join the group that lines up with the location where you spend most of your time, or where you sleep at night. If your circumstances change or you move to a new location, we ask that you leave this group and join the one that lines up with your new circumstances.

What do you mean by “Give where you live”?
The Buy Nothing Project was founded around the idea that local gift economies empower each person to Give Where You Live to create a resilient network of connections that see entire communities through times of joy and sorrow, ease and hardship. As part of this, we originally asked people to join only one Buy Nothing Facebook group, the one where they lived, and we helped people set up only one Facebook group per neighborhood. Things have changed a lot since then! You can read more about what we’ve learned along the way in this blog post
What should I do if I move?
Please connect with the Buy Nothing community in your new location! Buy Nothing has grown enough that most search engines will deliver reliable group links to you for your new neighborhood. Use a search term such as "Buy Nothing (your location here)" and you'll likely see a number of choices you can explore. Remember to leave the Buy Nothing group that you've moved away from (and consider a parting Gratitude post to tell everyone you'll miss them). You can also seamlessly connect with your community through our free, independent BuyNothing app (iPhone and Android), in which you can easily update your address and instantly connect with Buy Nothing-ers wherever you go, if you'd like to add to your Buy Nothing experience. 
How to Use Your Buy Nothing Group
What if I don’t have transportation?
If you're requesting Buy Nothing gifts and won't be able to pick them up, add this information to your comments when you request things, and let them know that you'll be asking the group for the gift of transportation help if you're selected as the gift recipient. Then you can post an Ask of your own, to see if anyone in your group is able to give you the gift of pick-up and delivery. There's no expectation that Givers will deliver gifts, although they're welcome to do this if they'd like to.

No one is under any obligation to provide transportation for gifts, but this is a fine thing to request or offer in your group, and it goes a long way toward helping gifts find homes, and keeps great items in use and out of the waste stream. We see people offer, request, and receive the gift of transportation every day, so please do ask if this is a gift you need! 
I’m interested in reducing my waste. How can my group help me to truly “Buy Nothing”?
You and your group can set up a Buy Nothing Re-Use Store! Click here for our free guide to creating this resource and putting it to use. 
Can I ask for something on behalf of a friend or family member?
Short answer: Yes! 
Longer answer here in this section of our Fine Print: 

Participate As Yourself:

  • If your Buy Nothing group is using Facebook or a similar online platform, you must use your personal account, and not a business account.
  • You may share or request goods or services from or for your business, school, charity or other organization, as long as those offers or requests are not presented as a way of marketing, advertising, recruiting, promoting or otherwise “spreading the word” about your business or organization.

You may request and offer gifts in your group on behalf of your family, friends, organizations, etc. If you know someone who wants to participate in a Buy Nothing group and is able to do so, please help them establish membership in their own local Buy Nothing group. If you know someone who can participate with assistance, that is a welcome gift of self to offer. You can help them participate in any way that makes their Buy Nothing group accessible to them. We ask all group leaders and participants to expand their understanding of what accessibility and inclusion looks like to allow for shared accounts, people who offer and request on behalf of others, and people whose abilities and circumstances impact their participation in ways that may be new to you. Gift economies are especially strong when individuals are empowered to participate directly, as themselves, and there is a beautiful diversity in how this manifests.

Do I just choose the first person that puts their name in for my gift?
There is NO expectation or rule that Buy Nothing gifts go to the first person who replies. The Giver is always, always in charge of how, when, why, and to whom they give their Buy Nothing gift. We ask Givers to experiment with giving in as many different ways as possible. Giving to the first person to reply leaves a lot of people out of the giving loop, and focuses gifts on those people who have more online hours. Please experiment with different ways of giving to include as many people as possible in the joy of receiving a Buy Nothing gift. 

See this section of our Fine Print for more on this topic: 

Practice Patience - Let It Simmer:

You can build a stronger Buy Nothing group when you move more slowly to select recipients for your gifts, and when you choose recipients through a variety of methods. Letting your offer “simmer”, “soak” or “stew” for a bit before choosing a recipient will allow more people to respond to your offer. If you need an item gone right away, you can choose to use a variation of “first come, first served” or a “flash give” to select a recipient, but it’s much more positive for the entire group if you can use other methods, such as drawing a name from a hat.  

I have a special skill that I’d like to offer. How do I do that? 

We hope this section of the Fine Print helps as a guide to offering this sort of Gift of Self:


How Does "Participate As Yourself" Work in Practice?

Let’s say you’re a professional fish groomer, and you want to share your skills. You could definitely offer your services, but they’d need to come from you, without any mention of your business name, directions to your business office, store, or website, or anything else that might even remotely smack of marketing or advertising. You could say something like “Offered: One grooming session for your goldfish. I’m a professional fish groomer and would love to give an hour of my time to help your Goldie look her best. Please let me know if your fish could use a spa day. If there’s a lot of interest, I’ll choose a recipient tomorrow around 8 pm.” As with everything, the offer needs to be completely free, given with no expectation of any return or reward. It’s fine if a conversation develops and people ask about your work, your training or expertise, your business, etc – there’s a difference between natural conversation between neighbors who are interested in learning about each other and using the group for marketing. In a Buy Nothing group, we practice building relationships through natural conversations, knowing this leads to a more resilient real life community in many ways.

Can I offer my gift in another group or platform at the same time as offering it in my Buy Nothing group?
This section of the Fine Print has your answer:

Commit to Your Group:

Rather than offering the same gift in multiple Facebook groups, we would love for you to commit to your Buy Nothing community, in your Buy Nothing group on Facebook and in the BuyNothing app, and offer first to your Buy Nothing neighbors. But if items are also offered elsewhere, please let your neighbors know.

Can I offer a “curb alert” to the group, letting them know I’ve put something out at the curb or have seen something for free out on a curb elsewhere?
Yes! This is covered in the following section of our Fine Print:

Curbside Giving:

Let your neighbors know if you’ve put something out on the curb as a free offering, or if you see something in your neighborhood that one of your neighbors might be able to use. 

What do I do when my gift is gone?
Take a minute to enjoy that good old gift giving joy! Then if you'd like to help your community, please edit your post to say something like "Update: This gift has been given!" so that people can see that it's no longer available. We ask you to leave your post up, as the posts in a Buy Nothing group become a shared narrative and archive of generosity and connections (and these old posts can be very useful in many ways!). 
Can I use abbreviations in my communications?
Short answer: We want you to communicate in the ways that are most accessible to you. There are pros and cons to abbreviations, but the most important thing is that people connect in their own most accessible languages/ways. 
There's more about this in the following section of our Fine Print: 

Diverse Communication Styles Are Welcome:

Communicate in ways that are easy for you. What you say must fit into the rules about what sort of posts and comments belong, but how you express yourself is entirely up to you. Participating in your Buy Nothing Project group should be fun, not a complicated chore. Explain what you’re offering or requesting in the words of your choosing. There are no rules about how your communication with your group must be worded or formatted. It’s fine to use a lot of whole words to tell a story about your offer or request, it’s fine to use very few words, it’s fine to use abbreviations or acronyms, or to use any combination of words, images, and links to online content that help you express yourself. We ask everyone to extend patience and understanding to each other, as each Buy Nothing group includes people with a variety of languages, literacy levels, available time, physical ability, internet access, and communication styles. Accessible communication for one person may not match up with accessible communication for another person, so we can help each other out by bridging the gap when we see ways to add comments or questions that help with any confusion, to make posts and comments more understandable by more participants. The more your personality comes through in your offers, requests, and comments, the more you’ll build connections with others. You’ll build more connections when you share stories, and connections are one of the best Buy Nothing gifts.

Can I mention the monetary value of my gift?
Please do not feel the need to tell the group how much the item cost, how much it is worth, or how much it could be sold for. In Buy Nothing groups, all gifts are equal, and monetary value is irrelevant.
Can I privately message a member to ask for a gift they’ve offered?
Don’t pressure others via private message. Only send a private message to another group member when they’ve asked you to do that. If you want people to reach you via private message, be sure to let them know. Gifting in the Buy Nothing Project is always at the discretion of the Giver.
Can I help with leading the group?
Please take this question to the leaders of your local Buy Nothing group! There's a very good chance they'd love to have more help (running a Buy Nothing group on Facebook can be a lot of work). If you're interested in leading your Buy Nothing community on our independent platform (the BuyNothing app), we'd love to have you as a Community Builder. Click here to learn more. 
How to Handle Difficult Situations
I am unable to pick up a gift as requested. What should I do?
When responding to an offer, please be sure that you communicate clearly about your ability to pick up the item in a timely manner. If something comes up and you won't be able to pick up a gift, please reach out to the Giver and let them know, and ask if you can arrange another time. Givers are not expected to hold onto items for a recipient for any longer than is convenient, but we do hope that all members will do what they can to work out any scheduling mishaps. If your neighbor has not picked up an item you’ve set out for them, feel free to message them privately, or let them know in the group that it’s still waiting for them, or you can always choose another recipient for your gift. 
My neighbor never picked up the item I gifted to them. What should I do?  
When responding to an offer, please be sure that you communicate clearly about your ability to pick up the item in a timely manner. If something comes up and you won't be able to pick up a gift, please reach out to the Giver and let them know, and ask if you can arrange another time. Givers are not expected to hold onto items for a recipient for any longer than is convenient, but we do hope that all members will do what they can to work out any scheduling mishaps. If your neighbor has not picked up an item you’ve set out for them, feel free to message them privately, or let them know in the group that it’s still waiting for them, or you can always choose another recipient for your gift. 
I offered or requested a gift and received private messages without permission/prior to choosing a recipient. What do I do?
You might want to share the following section of the Fine Print with the person who reached out to you via private message: 

Don’t pressure others via private message. Only send a private message to another group member when they’ve asked you to do that. If you want people to reach you via private message, be sure to let them know. Gifting in the Buy Nothing Project is always at the discretion of the Giver.
I noticed something that I believe is against the rules. What should I do?

Please speak up! 

If you see something that you feel is not in keeping with the rules and standards of the Buy Nothing Project, feel free to let the participant know. Local Group leaders can’t be in the groups at all times, and it’s always helpful when neighbors remind each other how Buy Nothing works. 

I received an item in disrepair. What should I do?
There's no rule that every item in each Give and Ask post in a Buy Nothing community needs to be in perfectly new condition. Every day, many broken things find wonderful new lives via Buy Nothing groups. We do ask that people fully and honestly disclose the condition of the things they're offering, so others can make informed choices about what they ask to receive. We want people to receive gifts in disrepair when they've asked for them, not as a surprise. We hope this section of the Fine Print will help answer your question about what to do when this doesn't work out perfectly the first time:

Honest Disclosure of Condition of Items: We all participate in this project at our own risk. Please be honest when you describe an item you’re offering – it’s fine to offer items in any condition, but your fellow group participants need to know if something needs to be fixed, cleaned, picked up with a large vehicle, etc. If a gift has special sentimental value, we’d like to hear that too – stories about gifts are hugely popular and help build community.
A giver is not required to take back an item if it does not meet a recipient’s expectations. Nor are recipients required to accept an item if, upon seeing it in person and before taking it home, they realize it won’t work for them. If you find that a gift won’t work for you, just be honest and let the giver know. It’s perfectly wonderful to re-gift Buy Nothing gifts if you find yourself with something that doesn’t work for you.
Something is missing from my porch or home. What should I do?
Stealing is Prohibited: Do not take anything from your neighbors without specific permission. If you discover that something is missing from your porch/home/doorstep, if something you did not set out as a gift has been taken, please ask in your group to see if a mistake was made. If you suspect theft or any other crime, contact your local authorities as you would for any theft situation. Your local group’s leader(s) has no enforcement authority when it comes to illegal actions.
I have a complaint about a group member and/or an admin. What should I do?

Regarding Complaints:

If you have a complaint about another member, you have several options: Ignore content that bothers you, knowing that everyone participates as they like and that no one is ever forced to request or offer a gift they’re uncomfortable with; use the Community Agreement as a guide to start a discussion with your group, addressing whatever the issue is; approach the person via other means, away from the group, to suggest a discussion to resolve the issue, as you would for complaints about people in your life outside of your Buy Nothing group. Each Buy Nothing participant is responsible for resolving their own conflicts. Local group leaders are not professional mediators or counselors, and cannot step in to resolve conflicts between group participants


If your complaint is about your local group leader, please know that we are not decision-makers for any Buy Nothing groups. We encourage you to work out your differences directly with your local leader or within your group to create a dialogue about your concern. Buy Nothing groups are “brave spaces” where we allow the space for people to speak up if they feel they’ve been treated unjustly. Our Facebook Conflict Resources page might also be helpful.


If you'd like a fresh start, we welcome you to join your Buy Nothing community via our independent platform, the BuyNothing app (for iPhone and Android). Our app is structured to make Buy Nothing as accessible as possible to everyone, and it empowers each person to act as their own leader/admin. We hope you'll check it out (and you can always use it in addition to participating in your Buy Nothing group on Facebook or another platform).


We are an inclusive, equitable movement, not open to active haters. We encourage everyone to report accounts that are responsible for hate speech and hateful action directly to the platform they are using, so that the platform and the group are safer for all.

Why wasn’t I chosen to receive a gift?

Don't Give Up - Keep Trying!

Sometimes a Give is posted and no one is interested in receiving it. Sometimes a Give is posted and many people respond, but there's only enough for one person. Sometimes Asks are posted but not fulfilled. Don’t give up! It can be discouraging or feel embarrassing when your offers and requests aren’t met with enthusiasm. It can be discouraging to request a gift and see it given to someone else. Participating in a gift economy can make all of us feel emotionally vulnerable at times. There are many reasons that offers and requests aren’t met. Sometimes online platforms hide content from group members, sometimes people are too busy or focused on outside events to check in with their Buy Nothing groups, sometimes it’s just one of those days or weeks. Please know that this is a shared experience. We encourage you to try again – offer a different gift, or offer the same gift with a new description; post your request again, with a genuine bit of your personality in your wording. Experiment, and feel free to share your feelings and frustrations with your group, to request help and tips that can make your offers and requests more successful.

I posted a Give and no one wanted it. What went wrong?
Sometimes a Give is posted and no one is interested in receiving it. Sometimes a Give is posted and many people respond, but there's only enough for one person. Sometimes Asks are posted but not fulfilled. Don’t give up! It can be discouraging or feel embarrassing when your offers and requests aren’t met with enthusiasm. It can be discouraging to request a gift and see it given to someone else. Participating in a gift economy can make all of us feel emotionally vulnerable at times. There are many reasons that offers and requests aren’t met. Sometimes online platforms hide content from group members, sometimes people are too busy or focused on outside events to check in with their Buy Nothing groups, sometimes it’s just one of those days or weeks. Please know that this is a shared experience. We encourage you to try again – offer a different gift, or offer the same gift with a new description; post your request again, with a genuine bit of your personality in your wording. Experiment, and feel free to share your feelings and frustrations with your group, to request help and tips that can make your offers and requests more successful.
My content was deleted! Why?
It sounds like you posted something that doesn't fit into the scope of a Buy Nothing group. You can also check in with your group leader(s) to ask if they can clarify clarification and help you understanding what happened. We hope the following sections of the Fine Print will be helpful (and you might want to read through the rest of the Fine Print if this doesn't cover whatever was deleted):

Keep It Legal: Don’t offer or request anything illegal. Follow all national, regional, and local laws, as well as the Terms of Service and community standards of any platform you’re using.
The Buy Nothing Project also prohibits giving or asking for items that endorse or oppose any current political party, candidate, or ballot option.

Give Freely: Trading, bartering, buying, or selling is counter to the Buy Nothing Project mission. Keep in mind that all gifts must be freely given without any expectation of reward or another gift in return. There is no limit to giving or receiving in the groups. Participants may offer and request as much as they’d like, as often as they’d like. No one is under any obligation to give or receive. Everyone may ask as they choose, and give as they choose.


No Recruiting: Do not use Buy Nothing groups as a means for collecting personal information about your neighbors, or to recruit people to join your religion, political party/candidate/ballot option, business or other organization. Buy Nothing groups are inclusive and equitable at their core. All group members should be respected as equals, just as they are.

Give From Your Own Abundance:

  • Please do not tell people where they can purchase an item, pay for a service, or receive charitable assistance. If you know of a free assistance program or free community resource that would be helpful to your group, we encourage you to check in with your group’s leader(s) about the creation of a Community Resource document in the group’s Files.
  • Please do not direct each other to charitable organizations to meet requests shared in your Buy Nothing group. Focus instead on helping each other whenever and however you can with your own hands, time, stuff, and presence. This social experiment is about finding ways to strengthen connections between neighbors through giving, receiving, and sharing creatively.

We Are A Gift Economy (No Buying/Selling/Trading)

  • This is not the place to refer people to ways to meet their needs or desires through the market economy. This means the following things are not allowed here: marketing or advertising; referrals to services or work that's bought, sold, rented, or traded; offers or requests for paid employment; offers of items for sale, trade or rent; GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaigns and the like, requests for items you’d like to buy or rent; items you wish to barter, trade or exchange; real estate for sale or rent; encouraging people to buy, sell, or trade items or services elsewhere.
How can I bring my group in line with Buy Nothing Mission & Principles?
Buy Nothing Groups Can Be Varied:
Do you see a difference between your local Buy Nothing community and the mission, principles, and rules expressed in this document? There are many iterations of Buy Nothing around the globe, and some are local variations of our Global Standard. You can bring any Buy Nothing resource to your group to spark a discussion about possible changes, you can set up a new group of your own, and you can join Buy Nothing via our independent platform (, to bring to life your own version (for iPhone and Android) to this movement. See our Help Center for resources, including volunteer Buy Nothing Project Librarians who can help you find everything you need to establish your own Buy Nothing community. 
I don’t like your group, your rules, and how you do things here.
The Buy Nothing Project May Not Be a Perfect Fit for Everyone:
Do you have an intense dislike for your Buy Nothing group? Are you unhappy with your group and also have no desire to create one for yourself as an alternative? We know Buy Nothing communities aren’t a good fit for everyone. If you’re not happy with the rules, mission, or developing culture, please feel free to find another group that’s a better fit. No one is held against their will in their local Buy Nothing group. If you make it clear that the Buy Nothing Project isn’t a good fit for you by attacking the volunteers who lead your community, by continued complaints, personally-directed hostility, willful disregard of the rules, or an announcement that you intend to leave the group, your local group leader(s) will help you find the exit door so you can look for a happier place.