March, 2013

  • Webinar: What Nonprofit Executive Staff Need to Know About Social Media

    The foundation of a successful online communications and fundraising campaign is built upon a well-designed, well-written website and e-newsletter, as well as a clear understanding of how social media has fundamentally changed how organizations engage and inspire supporters and donors.

    The content of this webinar is specifically tailored for executive staff in the nonprofit sector, particularly those who may be skeptical or unclear of the value of social media.

    The webinar will:

    • Demonstrate the value of social media to increase online fundraising and online brand recognition.
    • Discuss how much time successful social media communications require and consequently highlight the need to modify job descriptions of development and communications staff.
    • Illuminate how social media success requires professional experience or training in online communications and fundraising.
    • Put forward a minimal budget to be successful on the Social Web.
    • Examine the need to create a social media policy.
    • Present a system to track Return on Investment (ROI).
    • Discuss the urgent need to prepare for the Mobile Web.

    Join us for this FREE webinar on Thursday, 2 May, at 9:00 AM, Singapore time.

    Register today!

    This webinar series is being delivered by Heather Mansfield, founder of DIOSA Communications and the NonprofitOrgs Blog, as part of Microsoft Citizenship’s regional Tech4Good programme.

  • Six Ways Nonprofits Can Use Skype

    Skype is an amazing technology. Anyone who travels regularly or who has long-distance friends and family and uses Skype to keep in touch understands that regular video chats can erase the miles instantaneously. With more than 245 million users worldwide, Skype is connecting families, business communities and the nonprofit sector in ways that are transforming our relationships, our work days and our ability to foster social good in the world. All that said, nonprofits may not be fully aware of how Skype technology works or how extensive its tool set is.

    Heather Mansfield from DIOSA Communications and founder of the NonProfitOrgs Blog shares six ways nonprofits can use Skype to improve communications and fundraising.

    1) Free one-on-one video chats or calls.

    As long as both parties have installed Skype (for desktop, mobile or TV), a nonprofit can make unlimited video calls. For example, Skype can be used for regular check-ins with staff who work remotely, board members or funders. Nonprofits could also use Skype to interview prospective staff or volunteers. Technically, it's worth noting that the video and audio portion of the chats are streamed through the Internet and thus no phone service is required. Attendees will need video cameras and microphones installed on their computers, mobile devices and Internet TVs to enable video chats, however, video is not required for Skype calls. You could simply have a one-on-one conversation via Skype with cameras tuned off.


    2) To make inexpensive international calls.

    By purchasing Skype Credits, nonprofits can call any phone number (landline or mobile) in the world at extremely low rates. This is transformational for nonprofits and foundations that work in international development. If Internet access is poor in remote areas making the free Skype video chats or calls difficult, using Skype Credits to call mobile phones and landlines directly keeps the lines of communication open which is especially crucial
    during times of crisis.


    3) To send inexpensive international text messages.

    Many nonprofits - particularly those in developing nations - use text messaging as their primary method of communication, however, texting internationally can very expensive for both parties. By using Skype Credits, nonprofits can send text messages at very low rates to one individual or up to 50. In a perfect world, foundations that make grants internationally would include $250 in funding annually with each grant for Skype Credits and Skype Premium.


    4) To host group video meetings.

    The free version of Skype enables group calls (no video), but to host group video meetings you must upgrade to Skype Premium. Rates start at $4.99 USD a month and when purchased annually the fees are heavily discounted. Group video meetings can be used for volunteer training, staff meetings, board meetings or to report back to funders. The video service allows up to 10 attendees, while group conference calls with audio only can accommodate up to 25 people. Quite often communications are lacking in the nonprofit sector due to long distances and lack of funding, but Skype Premium is an exceptionally affordable service that can instantaneously improve staff and board relationships and strengthen donor's personal connections to your nonprofit's work and achievements.


    5) To present group webinars.

    Imagine being able to pitch a foundation for funding from 10,000 miles away. Or share financials and fundraising strategies to board members in real-time no matter where they are located. How about training volunteers on how to be activists for your organization? Skype Premium also enables screen sharing during group video meetings (maximum of 10 attendees).


    6) To present tours of your facility to current and prospective funders.

    If your nonprofit has a smartphone or tablet, you can easily use Skype to present real-time tours of your office, your facilities and your community. A simple flip of the camera can broadcast live any setting, any picture, any event. You have the technology to transform the way your nonprofit communicates and raises funds literally in the palm of your hand.

    Skype makes it easy for your nonprofit to connect with beneficiaries, donors, partners, staff and board members.

  • Mobilising Citizen Journalism and Empowering Rural Communities in Sri Lanka

    Sarvodaya-Fusion, the information and communication technology (ICT) education arm of nonprofit group Sarvodaya, has been involved in developing and implementing a broad range of educational programmes in disadvantaged communities since 2006. Microsoft Sri Lanka is committed to providing Sarvodaya-Fusion with technical and financial support in aid of their efforts to strengthen community bonds and empower marginalised youth in Sri Lanka through ICT training.

    Microsoft supported Sarvodaya-Fusion in the launch of a new citizen journalism programme

    In November 2012, Microsoft supported Sarvodaya-Fusion in the launch of a new programme to train ‘citizen journalists’ to develop news stories and share the information in real time — with the ultimate objective of using technology to facilitate increased transparency and citizen participation at the community level. During the workshop, participants were given the opportunity to receive personal coaching and practical experience in the field of participatory journalism, as well as develop basic photo journalism skills.  

    The use of ICT as a powerful but affordable means of communication has vastly reshaped the nature of journalism — a good example is how a local citizen journalist is able to conduct interviews and leverage social networks to deliver a piece of news relying solely on a smartphone’s functions. According to Sarvodaya-Fusion, the yardstick of success for this citizen journalism programme would be measured by the stories generated by the trainees, as part of the efforts to build stronger communities.

    Udara Dharmasena, a Project Coordinator at Sarvodaya-Fusion, said, “This new service provides an exciting opportunity for young people to actively contribute to society and culture. With the support of Microsoft, we have provided all of the tools needed to record, upload and distribute news in real time, something that has never been possible before.”

    Microsoft and Sarvodaya-Fusion are providing access to ICT education to more than 1,400 young people at six Sarvodaya centres and more than twenty regional ’telecentres’

    Microsoft has also joined forces with Sarvodaya-Fusion to initiate a new ICT training and employment scheme for underprivileged youth in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, which were greatly affected by the civil war over the past decades.

    Together, Microsoft and Sarvodaya-Fusion aim to provide better access to ICT education to more than 1,400 young people by implementing specialised training schemes at six Sarvodaya centres and more than twenty regional ’telecentres’ across the country. The students, typically between the ages of 14 and 19, will undergo a six-month course and sit for Fusion Education’s Diploma in Computer Application (DICA) qualification, which provides a recognised accreditation in ICT knowledge.

    Harsha Liyanage, Sarvodaya-Fusion Managing Director, said, “It has been a wonderful experience to work with Microsoft and offer new training opportunities to young people. The students have been enthusiastic and worked hard throughout and more than deserve the recognition and success that they are now receiving. It has been a privilege for us to be able to assist these communities that have been ravaged by the war and help them to create a sustainable future.”

    “It has been a wonderful experience to work with Microsoft and offer new training opportunities to young people.”

    - Harsha Liyanage, Managing Director, Sarvodaya-Fusion 

    For more information, please visit http://fusion.lk

  • Strengthening Awareness of Intellectual Property Rights in the Philippines

    To commemorate Intellectual Property Rights Week, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) conducted the 2nd Philippine Anti-Counterfeiting and Piracy Summit in October 2012. Microsoft was invited to participate in a panel discussion during the event held at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City, Manila.

    The full-day Summit focused on the latest trends involving the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in the Philippines, presenting Microsoft Philippines with the opportunity to discuss the latest intellectual property issues with government officials and key enforcement officers.

    Counterfeiting and piracy remain key concerns for the business community in the Philippines. According to data released by the IPOPHL-led National Committee on Intellectual Property Rights, more than 3.3 million pieces and almost 2,600 cartons and sacks of counterfeit products worth PHP4.126 billion (US$101 million) were confiscated during the first three quarters of 2012 by local enforcement agencies.

    Microsoft has been proactively supporting the ongoing initiatives aimed at raising awareness of the risks associated with the use of counterfeit products and pirated software in the Philippines. During a panel discussion entitled “Cybercrime and Internet Piracy: The Growing Threat Against Intellectual Property Rights”, Raul Cortez, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director of Microsoft Philippines, highlighted the downside and security issues related to pirated software.

    “The use of pirated software poses a significant threat to the security of personal information, and may in turn lead to more serious security breaches caused by malware imbedded in the pirated software — even to the extent of causing a threat to national security. We hope to support the Philippines government in their continuing efforts to counter these threats and to raise the current levels of intellectual property rights protection in the country,” said Mr Cortez.

    The Summit also saw the official launch of the “Manual for the Investigation and Prosecution of Intellectual Property Cases”, the Philippines’ first comprehensive guide to aid investigators and prosecutors who are involved in intellectual property rights enforcement cases.

    “We hope to support the Philippines government in their continuing efforts to counter the threats posed to intellectual property rights protection.”

    - Raul Cortez, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, Microsoft Philippines

  • Addressing Key Challenges Faced by Non-Governmental Organisations in Thailand

    In December 2012, nine executives from eight non-governmental organisations (NGOs) focused on youth empowerment attended the Thailand NGO Executive Roundtable organised by Microsoft Thailand.

    Nine executives from eight non-governmental organisations (NGOs) attended Microsoft’s Thailand NGO Executive Roundtable

    The main objective of the Executive Roundtable — the second organised by Microsoft Thailand in 2012 — was for Microsoft and its NGO partners to gain a better understanding of the diverse needs and concerns faced by NGOs, as well as to facilitate discussion and share ideas on the use of technology to address these challenges. Each of the eight NGOs invited to the event have been empowered with Microsoft’s software donations to boost productivity and extend their services to new communities.

    The Roundtable kicked off with a welcome address by Siriporn Pajharawat, Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) Director, Microsoft Thailand. Ms Siriporn shared with the audience Microsoft's Citizenship vision and the YouthSpark programme. Her address was followed by an interactive roundtable discussion in which the participants highlighted a number of common challenges encountered by these organisations.

    One of the operational issues highlighted was the need for reliable and cost effective communications tools to enable NGO staff to collaborate more easily — especially for staff members who have to use their personal devices in order to work remotely. The participants also discussed how to overcome the technical issues they faced in sharing and accessing information stored across different databases, as well as to find a more efficient way of creating a professional presentation.

    “Most of the NGOs who attended the Executive Roundtable highlighted communications and work collaboration to be the most pressing operational challenges, followed by data sharing and professional presentation. The participants were also interested to gain more practical experience through hands-on practice with remote meetings,” said Ms Siriporn.

    Chavapongsatorn Waisarikarm, Technology Specialist, Office Expert Programme at Microsoft Thailand, provided an overview of the key Microsoft technologies and products available, helping the NGO executives gain a better understanding on how these technology solutions could fit their requirements.

    The event was very well received by the NGOs, and the participants were particularly impressed by the technology capabilities of Microsoft Office® web applications, SkyDrive® and PowerPoint® 2010.

    “The roundtable was immensely beneficial to NGOs in helping us to better understand the challenges that each of our organisations face, and how Microsoft can help address them,” said Mechai Viravaidya, Chairman of the Population and Community Development Association and the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation.

    Supahrat Juramongkol, Community Affairs Manager, Microsoft Thailand, said, “At Microsoft, we are committed to strengthening our partnership with NGOs and helping them bridge the technology gaps that they face in their operations. We are delighted by their rousing response to the event. Besides sharing with us the issues and challenges they face, several participants also expressed their interest to find out more about our Citizenship programme. It’s very encouraging to also learn that the participants would like us to organise such events more frequently in the future.”

    “The roundtable was immensely beneficial to NGOs in helping us to better understand the challenges that each of our organisations face, and how Microsoft can help address them.”

    - Mechai Viravaidya, Chairman, Population and Community Development Association and the Mechai Viravaidya Foundation

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