At the NGO Day 2013, Ms Wong Sau Wa, chief executive of The Church of United Brethren in Christ Social Service Division, shared the need for a modern social tool which enables NGOs to get closer to the younger generation. They are one of the NGOs trialing a cloud-based social and collaboration solution built upon Microsoft SharePoint Online. They consider this tool useful as it empowers them to identify target groups in a timely way and get intelligence from a user-friendly dashboard for more effective outreach. Internally, the solution also provides an integrated platform where they can collaborate easily with teams and even external experts, allowing them to better manage a large volume of cases and projects in an easy, convenient and secure manner.

Microsoft Hong Kong showcased the latest cloud-based social networking and collaboration technologies at NGO Day 2013, showing its commitment to empowering NGOs to take the big leap into the next-generation social service model. This initiative is part of Microsoft’s continued efforts in offering innovative cloud-based support and a platform for NGOs. Together with Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), the aim is to improve service quality among NGOs, helping them stay close with their beneficiaries in a secure environment through innovation and information technology.

“The adoption of cloud computing among NGOs has been trending up since we launched the ‘Cloud Unlimited for a Better Hong Kong’ Programme in 2012. When we first started, the NGOs using Office365 were only those of a smaller scale. However, nowadays large NGOs with hundreds and thousands of users are also adopting it. In the past 12 months alone, Microsoft has also donated over 3,150 software licenses amounting to HK$12,000,000 to local NGOs through the ‘TechDonation Programme’ to empower NGOs to take advantage of information technology in service quality enhancement,” said Horace Chow, General Manager, Microsoft Hong Kong.

The NGO Day also unveiled the latest survey findings on the effectiveness of NGOs leveraging social networking tools to reach out to young people in Hong Kong. The survey was commissioned by Microsoft and HKCSS and conducted by the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong (HKUPOP) in May 2013.

Findings from the survey indicated that social networking websites are the most common channel used by NGOs to communicate with a younger demographic. With the proliferation of social websites and various mediums of communication, NGOs are in need of a more advanced and unified social platform to further improve the quality of their youth services, and increased support from the government in terms of subsidies for hardware and software, plus training. Taking data privacy into consideration, some NGOs are considering migration of its social networking platform from a public cloud to a private cloud.

“The survey revealed that social workers have been consistently using social media as a communication and service provision channel. HKCSS believes this trend will soon be replicated,” said Christine Fang, Chief Executive, HKCSS. “We appreciate Microsoft’s pioneering efforts and timely support to bring in next-generation innovations to NGOs, with its deep understanding of NGO’s pain points and constraints in IT development due to lack of resources and knowledge. Only with such a partnership and longsighted government policy will NGOs be able to keep enhancing their services to the community without compromising agility, effectiveness, security and privacy.”

Concluded Microsoft’s Chow: “Social technology, enabled by cloud, may be relatively new from an organizational perspective, but it’s already an inseparable part of the day-to-day lives for tens of millions of people. Social networks empower NGOs to be more productive through its strong connection between people, knowledge and information, thus enabling effective collaboration across teams, locations and time zones.”

NGO Day is an annual event held by Microsoft and HKCSS to help local NGOs enhance service delivery to the community by harnessing the power of IT. This year’s event was attended by close to 200 representatives from Hong Kong’s public, private and NGO sectors.

Read more details on the survey: The effectiveness of NGOs leveraging social networking tools to reach out to young people in Hong Kong.