TechSoup Global was founded in 1987 as CompuMentor, with the objective of helping nonprofit organisations around the world make better use of information technology (IT) to broaden the impact of their work. Currently headquartered in San Francisco, USA, and also operating from its London and Warsaw offices, TechSoup Global also collaborates with businesses and foundations to optimise their philanthropic contributions.

In an effort to expand its capacity building efforts for nonprofits and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) outside of North America, the TechSoup Global Network was set up in 2005 to establish an online platform to connect and build the capacity of its network partners and the nonprofit sector locally in each partner country.

Each network partner is empowered to expand their services and provide technology resources to cater to the specific needs of nonprofits in their respective countries. And through the support of the TechSoup Global Network, qualified nonprofits are able to acquire donated or discounted IT products at a nominal administrative fee.

The TechSoup Global Network currently serves nonprofits in more than 40 countries.

The Challenge: Connecting NGOs to Foster Deeper Engagements

As the TechSoup Global Network continues to expand, the organisation needs to keep up with operational demands by facilitating communications and information exchange between its 200 employees and 75 volunteer workers — as well as with its global network partners.

“We found that reliable communications is integral to raising the level of engagement between our staff and our network partners who are working on the ground to deliver technology assistance programmes and localised services. Through the TechSoup Global Network, we have been able to provide improved access to technology donations and capacity development resources to a growing number of nonprofits,” said Glenn Fajardo, Global Network Launch Manager at TechSoup Global.

Due to the prohibitive cost of international voice calls, TechSoup Global required a more cost-effective alternative to strengthen engagement with its network partners.

The Solution: Using Skype for Cost-Effective Collaboration and Communications

TechSoup Global decided in 2007 to get its staff signed up for Skype across the organisation to minimise the cost of international calls and to conduct video conferencing online in an efficient manner. Basic Skype services are available worldwide and across different hardware — allowing TechSoup Global staff and network partners to collaborate more easily and make quality voice calls, conduct video chats and send instant messages (IM) at no cost.

According to Mr Fajardo, TechSoup Global further invested in Skype Premium accounts for a number of its key executives, enabling group video calls with up to 10 people to be conducted across multiple countries.

The Benefits: Advanced Call Capabilities with Significant Cost Savings

Skype's main benefit is that it allows TechSoup Global staff to make free phone calls to Skype users and low-cost calls to those not using Skype. It also allows them to communicate with greater ease, helping to forge stronger working relationships with network partners around the world. Skype is also a critical tool for allowing TechSoup Global to connect its offices in San Francisco, Warsaw and London.

“The effective use of Skype — for one-to-one and group IM, as well as voice and video calls — enables a deeper sense of connection between our people, which ultimately leads to better results in terms of work efficiency,” Mr Fajardo said.

The cost savings achieved through Skype have been significant. TechSoup Global is now able to minimise cost incurred from international phone calls and, using the Skype Premium account, conduct low-cost video conferencing across disparate locations to communicate more effectively with its network partners.

Based in the Philippines, Gawad Kalinga is one such organisation that has been working closely with TechSoup Global to make use of new communications platforms to enhance the effectiveness and impact of their community work. Gawad Kalinga's objective is to alleviate poverty for five million families in the Philippines by 2024.

“Gawad Kalinga is all about building strong relationships, and Skype has been a valuable tool in helping us maintain a sense of genuine connection with our strategic partners such as TechSoup Global. While there can be no complete substitute for interpersonal interactions, the use of Skype video conferencing has allowed us to see the
facial expressions of our partners in San Francisco! It’s that extra human touch that helps in fostering trust and connection, which are key to building sustainable partnerships,” said Issa Cuevas-Santos, Director for Systems and IT at Gawad Kalinga.

Skype has improved communications and connection between TechSoup Global and their international network partners to deliver services. Skype enables the organisation to reach more nonprofits across the globe and provide them easier access to the resources and technology know-how they need — to better deliver on their mission of social benefit.