During Microsoft’s 2012 Asia Pacific Tech4Good Summit, held in Indonesia, Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled from Singapore shared with the participants how a recent upgrade conducted on its website helped create greater awareness of its activities.
One of the first purpose-built residential homes for people with intellectual disabilities in Singapore, Bishan Home collaborated with the People Sector Infocomm Resource Centre (PSIRC) to enhance its website. They utilised a Content Management System (CMS) built on open-source software with plug-ins and widgets that provide required features and social media integration. Thanks to the new CMS features, Bishan Home is able to update its web content regularly and streamline operations.
The PSIRC, a nationwide initiative by Nanyang Polytechnic, supported by Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and National Council of Social Service, is aimed at supporting the adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) solutions in the nonprofit sector.
Dennis Lim, CEO of Bishan Home for the Intellectually Disabled, said, “Through the recent website revamp, the Bishan Home website is now more engaging and has a compelling design that encourages return visits. The website also sets the tone for the kind of volunteers we are looking for —volunteers who want to engage and touch the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.”
Mr Lim estimated that the number of visits to the Bishan Home website increased by around four times, hitting an average of 40,702 visits per month in the first six months following the website revamp.
Bishan Home’s success in generating greater awareness through the Internet highlights the importance of maintaining a credible and professional web presence for nonprofit groups.
As an alternative to websites, nonprofit organisations can leverage blog-hosting services to connect with existing and potential audiences — the webmaster would only need to be familiar with basic HyperText Markup Language (HTML) programming, and the use of HTML codes for images and text display on a web page.
For beginners, Windows® Live Writer is a free desktop blog-publishing tool available through Microsoft Outlook that enables anyone to write HTML code without knowing how to programme, enabling the webmaster to create a professional-looking blog without incurring additional cost for support.
Microsoft Malaysia recently launched “The Spark of Transformation”, a collaborative partnership with the Malaysian government to empower local youth to realise their full potential by connecting them with greater education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. These new initiatives, launched in collaboration with Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), are aimed at closing the digital divide in Malaysia, as well as transforming the way people work and communicate.
The Spark of Transformation partnership was announced during a closed-door International Advisory Panel (IAP) Meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak and Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie.
The three main components of the partnership are:
“Malaysia is one of the shining beacons of the Asia Pacific region, and should continue to prioritise ICT to accelerate the country’s transformation into a knowledge-driven economy. The Spark of Transformation initiatives are designed to support the development of a robust education system in Malaysia. The partnership is aligned to Microsoft’s commitment to transform the country together with the Malaysian government, especially in the areas of education, business and lives,” said Anath Lazarus, past Managing Director, Microsoft Malaysia.
Some of the key issues discussed during the IAP Meeting included harnessing the power of ICT to raise work productivity, and how Microsoft can further support the Malaysian government’s efforts to equip the local workforce with basic computer literacy, workgroup computing and Internet skills.
Mr Mundie said, “Globally, Microsoft is committed to helping close the digital divide by creating new products and programmes that will bring sustained opportunities to people who are not yet realising the benefits of technology. Microsoft will continue to work with our partners to address the disparities in productivity and employment, and the pockets of marginalisation in urban areas and rural communities through the different Spark programmes, including YouthSpark.”
Youth development is a key commitment shared by Microsoft and its nonprofit partners in Indonesia, especially in providing more education and computer skills training opportunities for underprivileged youth in the country.
YCAB Foundation is one such nonprofit organisation in Indonesia — YCAB is the abbreviation for “Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa”, which translates to “loving the nation’s children foundation” in the Indonesian language. YCAB has collaborated with Microsoft to provide counselling, vocational training, micro-loan access and healthy lifestyle promotion for young people.
In September, YCAB Foundation founder and CEO Veronica Colondam was one of 26 Social Entrepreneur Awardees in 2012 recognised by the Schwab Foundation. The winners were selected based on their innovative approaches and demonstrated impact in social entrepreneurship.
Since 2011, Microsoft has been closely supporting the YCAB Foundation in its efforts to empower young people through the House of Learning and Development programme that was initiated in 2009, also known as the “Rumah Belajar”.
Rumah Belajar Microsoft is one of the Community Technology Centres (CTCs) supported by Microsoft Indonesia. Five Rumah Belajar Microsoft Learning Centres have been established in four Indonesian provinces to provide Information Technology (IT) courses based on various Microsoft® Office products. The objective of the computer training programme, which is certified by Binus University, is to help underprivileged youth and school dropouts develop the skills that will enable them to significantly improve their future job prospects.
Microsoft and the YCAB Foundation also provide top performing students access to scholarship programmes to help them pursue higher education or fund small business start-ups. More than 900 students have participated in the Rumah Belajar Microsoft programme, with 60 percent of the students securing employment.
“The partnership with YCAB Foundation is a part of our commitment to fulfil Microsoft’s mission to support Indonesian people, especially the younger generations, to develop their IT potential.”- Andreas Diantoro, President Director of PT Microsoft Indonesia
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