A gift network is a site (real or virtual) where people give gifts. These are mostly objects that are not going to be used by someone and therefore they are given away instead of selling or throwing them away. This behavior is called give and take in English, and freecycling when it comes to used objects. There are mainly 3 types of gift networks: real spaces, virtual spaces and events.
Sometimes they are called free shops (give and take, free store or free shop in English, or also “magasin pour rien” in French or “gratuiteries” in Spanish). They can be as simple as a corner at the entrance of the apartment building, or a room in the social center of the neighborhood. They can also be a designated corner of the square, or a place maintained as a store. They are easy and intuitive to use but require maintenance by users and help from volunteers to manage and dynamize them.
They can be as simple as a phone chat group dedicated to the purpose. They can also be an app or a web page. Phonechat groups are the simplest to use and set up, but like FCNs in real spaces, they require some maintenance and dynamization by users or volunteers. With apps and webpages, it takes a bit more effort to teach people to use them but their management is more automated once we have put in the effort to dynamize our community to use them.
They are often called Really Really Free Markets (Zone de Gratuité or Espace de Gratuité in French, Gratiferia in Spanish), they are similar to a market but at them it is prohibited to sell or barter. Everything brought to them has to be given away without expecting anything in return. They have to be organized by volunteers unless they have a regular place, time and day always the same and the participants already know how to participate and teach the newcomers how it works.
Many gift networks do not want their items to be resold or they want takers to explicitly say so if that is their intention. They implement techniques to minimize this possible abuse. Some do not care about what is done with the gifts. In general, gift networks are the easiest to start because gifting is a behavior that is comfortable and simple for people. It is a more familiar action than, for example, lending something to a stranger or carpooling with a stranger.