January, 2013

  • Nonprofits and Social Media: Before You Get Started, Get Organized!

    This article was written by Heather Mansfield, founder of Nonprofit Tech 2.0 (Bio) (LinkedIn), author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits and owner of DIOSA Communications.

    Many nonprofits rush into creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites without understanding that some of the decisions made during the set-up process will impact your social media campaigns for years to come. There are some basic steps that need to be made to both protect your nonprofit’s brand on the Social Web and to lay a solid foundation upon which to build your nonprofit’s presence.

    Step 1: Create a unique email address for your social networking accounts.

    The first step is creating an email address to be used solely for creating and managing your nonprofit’s accounts on social networking sites. Since staff turnover is a reality of professional life, having a staff person use their personal work email address to create the accounts is not a best practice. At some point when they leave your organization all the accounts will have to be handed over to a new staff person and all email logins modified, so it’s best to set up the accounts correctly from the beginning.

    Named one of the Top 50 Websites of 2012 by TIME Magazine, Outlook.com is a new Web-based email client that also includes access to SkyDrive (a cloud-based file-hosting service) and a suite of Office Web Apps  (Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote) – all for free. To get started, create a Microsoft account. During the process you’ll be prompted to create a new Outlook.com email address. If possible, your new email address should be the same as your nonprofit’s website URL, such as yourwebsiteurl@outlook.com. Once you have created your new Microsoft account, you will then be given instant access to your new Outlook.com email address:

    Step 2: Create a social media dashboard.

    Logging in and navigating multiple social networks daily can be time consuming and most nonprofits have limited time to dedicate to social media. Save yourself 10-20 minutes a day by taking a few minutes now to organize your desktop. In Internet Explorer you can easily drag and drop any website into the navigation bar atop the browser, which then allows easy access to your nonprofit’s social networking communities. If you have opted to stay logged into Facebook, Twitter and other sites, then you do not have to log in individually each time you click on any given social network you have featured in your navigation bar:
    Step 3: Create a Master Login Spreadsheet

    As the Social Web becomes more integrated into nonprofit communications and fundraising strategies, it’s likely that you will have five, 10 or even 20 separate logins to maintain and remember. To keep the process as simple and organized as possible – and to avoid the very common problem in which a volunteer, intern or staff person leaves an organization abruptly and takes with them the institutional memory of your social network logins – it’s a best practice to organize your logins in one Excel spreadsheet. To do so in Outlook.com, in the upper left-hand corner of the screen, click on the down arrow and select the “SkyDrive” pop-down > SkyDrive > Excel:

    Next, create the following columns in the Excel document: Website Name, Email Address, Password, URL and Date Created:

    Then each time you create a new community on the Social Web, enter the login information into your new Master Login Spreadsheet. Ensure that at least one person at your organization other than the social media manager has access to this Outlook.com > SkyDrive > Excel document. This ensures that your login history is secure, stored and easily accessible anytime, anywhere since the data is stored in the cloud.

    Getting organized on the Social Web is a critical step that many social media managers skip altogether. Investing the time - up front - to organize yourself and store your passwords in the cloud will save you hours of time and prevent some big headaches down the line.

  • Technology Training for Disadvantaged Children in Sri Lanka

    On 13 October, Microsoft Sri Lanka organised a Volunteer Day at the SOS Children’s Village Piliyandala, situated on the outskirts of the city of Piliyandala in Kesbewa, about 20 kilometres from the capital of Colombo.

    SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka support children who have lost the care of their biological families as well as those who are at risk of losing the care of their biological families in five different locations across Sri Lanka — enabling children to live in a family with love, respect and protection. Children receive care, education, vocational training opportunities and medical services, enabling them to grow up in a child-friendly environment.

    During the event, the Microsoft volunteers interacted with more than 250 children and engaged them in a series of learning sessions that involve the use of the latest information technology (IT) and basic work skills training. The planned activities were differentiated according to the children’s respective age groups.

    Young children under the age of 10 experienced first-hand the use of Windows® MultiPoint Server to improve their learning capabilities. During the MultiPoint sessions, the young students gathered in classrooms to learn how to access a single PC through multiple, individually-operated mouse devices.

    A session on social media and the importance of online safety was conducted to provide the teenagers at the SOS Children’s Village guidance on the different types of social media and how they can protect themselves from the potential dangers of digital technologies.

    Microsoft also introduced them to the enhanced features of the latest technologies such as Windows 8, Windows 8 phone and Microsoft cloud platforms, while the Xbox® and Kinect® devices added much excitement during the event. The Microsoft staff members and the children capped off Volunteer Day with a friendly cricket match.

    “We are honoured to have the opportunity to support SOS Children’s Villages in their efforts to help young, disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka develop to their fullest potential. Microsoft wants to provide these children with the technology training they need and empower them to play an active role in improving their own lives,” said Janakie Karunaratne, Microsoft Sri Lanka Citizenship Manager.

  • Harnessing the Power of Technology at the Asia Pacific Tech4Good Summit 2012

    Microsoft hosted three of New Zealand’s leading nonprofit organisations at its second annual Asia Pacific Tech4Good Summit, held on 22-23 May in Bintan, Indonesia. The aim of the Summit is to harness the power of technology to support nonprofit groups to achieve transformational change both within their organisations and in the way they deliver services to beneficiaries and constituents.

    Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, Barnardos New Zealand and Social Development Partners were among the more than 54 representatives hosted at the two-day event to learn new skills, network and discuss how technology has assisted their mission. The Summit also enabled the attendees to play a critical role in informing Microsoft's regional technology strategy for the nonprofit sector, and featured specific skill-building sessions led by professional trainers.

    Belinda Gorman, Citizenship and Community Affairs Lead at Microsoft New Zealand, said, “It was fantastic to hear from a wide range of nonprofit organisations, all at different stages of their technology journeys, and the varying challenges they faced depending on the country they’re based in.”

    Plunket’s Craig Le Quesne presented at the Summit, discussing new technology solutions that the organisation implemented after receiving a multi-million dollar software and services donation from Microsoft New Zealand in 2010. The introduction of new technologies has enabled the organisation to deliver improved services to New
    Zealand families by connecting its teams to a central communications environment for improved access to the tools and resources they need.

    Tina Reid, Executive Director at Social Development Partners, was impressed with Microsoft’s consultative approach to help build stronger communities. "Through programmes such as TechSoup Global, Connecting Communities and direct gifts and donations to social services, Microsoft has developed strong strategic relationships with many nonprofit organisations, and continues to work with them to share experiences to develop active Citizenship and Community Affairs work programmes in this region,” Ms Reid added.

    Anne Collins, ISS Manager at child support group Barnardos, observed how the energy and enthusiasm was evident across the Tech4Good delegates. Since attending the Summit, Barnardos is in the process of revising its web presence and investigating how Microsoft® Office365 might streamline their desktop upgrade process. “Tech4Good reinforced how Microsoft is helping communities in need, and revealed how effective Office365 can be for small organisations. Microsoft’s help seems to be the catalyst for positive change,” said Ms Collins.

    To keep the Asia Pacific region’s nonprofit community interacting and learning from each other, the Asia Pacific Microsoft Citizenship team has set up a LinkedIn group that encourages interaction and collaboration. Please go to www.linkedin.com to become a member of LinkedIn and then search for ‘AsiaPacific Tech4Good’.

  • Japan Taps Technology to Empower Women and Advance Gender Equality

    Microsoft is committed to the use of technology to address gender inequality, as highlighted by a recent Memorandum of Understanding signed with UN Women in
    July to strengthen efforts to drive social and economic transformation for women around the world. The commitment is being put into practice even in developed countries such as Japan, where Microsoft has taken significant steps to support disadvantaged women through the Unlimited Potential (UP) programme.

    The third phase of Microsoft’s UP Programme for Disadvantaged Women was implemented in 2009 in partnership with the National Council of Women's Centres. The three-year Women UP Phase 3 programme is aimed at enhancing the self sustainability of socially and economically disadvantaged women in Japan by providing information and communication technology (ICT) skills training, as well as employment support at regional women-support centres across Japan.

    “Working together with the National Council of Women's Centres, we see a great potential to empower the female population in Japan to become more assertive and equipped with the right skill set in order to improve their employment opportunities,” said Yumiko Ito, Assistant General Counsel at Microsoft. “The training courses under the Women UP Phase 3 are also aimed at improving computer literacy and basic ICT knowledge among disadvantaged women, which include single mothers, young women who are unemployed, and the less educated because of various social circumstances.”

    Microsoft Japan plays a central role in equipping support centres with computers, developing the ICT capacities of the staff, as well as coordinating with government agencies and nonprofit groups to broaden the scope of the Women UP Phase 3 programme. Since 2009, more than 7,188 women have been trained as part of the programme, exceeding the initial targets.

    A more holistic goal of Women UP Phase 3 is to expand the programme into a collaborative network, further empowering the women who have benefitted from the programme to share their mutual experiences and help those who face similar predicaments.

    “Through the use of technology, I can communicate and connect with people around the world,” said a trainee of the Women UP Phase 3 programme. “This made me feel like I was not alone in my situation.”

    “Through the Women UP Phase 3 programme, disadvantaged women were able to significantly broaden their employment opportunities, or to even start their own businesses.” - Yumiko Ito, Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft

  • Driving the Pursuit of Ideas among Emerging Technology Entrepreneurs

    Four years ago, the Imagine Cup provided Edward Hooper with the opportunity to test his mettle against other young innovators around the world. By leading his team to victory at the world’s premier student technology competition in 2008, Ed gained invaluable experience in the use of technology to address some of the most pressing global challenges — experience that he would put to good use in his entrepreneurial pursuits.

    At the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals 2008, Ed and his three teammates developed the Smart Operational Agriculture Toolkit (SOAK), a solution that enabled sustainable agricultural water usage to alleviate water scarcity during drought. After coming up trumps in the 2008 competition, Ed continues to be closely involved with Imagine Cup even today, helping to promote the event to Australian students, assist in the execution of the local and worldwide finals, and was one of the judges for the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals in Sydney, Australia.

    “When I was a student, Microsoft opened my eyes to how technology can fuel developments, enabling aspiring technology entrepreneurs like myself to make valuable contacts and gain access to free software. I was closely involved in helping Microsoft coordinate events at my campus that let other students make similar connections and increase their own knowledge,” said Ed, who was also named as the 2008 Microsoft Student Partner of the Year in Australia.

    Ed co-founded 121cast in 2012, a technology start-up that developed an online platform that delivers personalised information and entertainment for mobile consumption. Based in Melbourne, 121cast’s vision is to be the “radio station” of choice for smartphone owners while complementing modern lifestyles and consumption habits.

    Aside from his work at 121cast — which includes the development of SoundGecko, an audio transcription service that allows people to listen to articles from websites — Ed is currently involved with the Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) as an Entrepreneurial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. MAP seeks to create an on-campus community of entrepreneurship by empowering students, staff and alumni to actively provide support for translating good ideas and research outcomes into practical innovations.

    “While entrepreneurship is not widely spoken about or even suggested as a career path in schools, it is important to encourage young professionals to view failure positively in the pursuit of ideas. There is still a lack of entrepreneurial culture and awareness among many young professionals, and I would like to see schools doing more to encourage entrepreneurship, especially at a post-graduate level,” Ed added.

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