Family finances were running low. School grades were not exceptionally high. Facing the pressures of accumulating bills and tuition fees, Gianisse Marie Adamantopoulos (better known as Gigi), together with her passion for music, took a leap of faith and applied to be a Microsoft Student Partner.
Music and technology just didn’t seem to tie in, but Gigi refused to give in. She surprised Microsoft Philippines interviewers as she presented the missing link, winning for herself an internship which helped cover her education fees.
Be inspired by other equally amazing youth and find out more about Microsoft YouthSpark programmes.
The full article was originally posted 10 September 2013 on the Nonprofit Tech for Good Blog by Heather Mansfield.Thanks to Microsoft Citizenship Asia Pacific, I’ve had the great honor to present a series of online fundraising and social media trainings to over three hundred non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout Asia Pacific over the last three years. The experience has made me acutely aware that access to information about trends in nonprofit technology, online fundraising and social media often do not reach small NGOs – especially those in rural areas. Many lack access to information about how to create their own websites, publish an email newsletter, accept online donations and use social media effectively. It’s not for lack of desire or technical capability, but simply due to a block in information flow. Many small NGOs are also unaware of the services and resources offered to the NGO community by TechSoup Global, SANGONeT, NASSCOM Foundation, Meedan and FrontlineSMS.Here is a list of the top five Online Fundraising Best Practices for Small NGOs in Developing Countries:
1) Launch a new website that is mobile-optimizedGlobally, smartphones now outsell feature phones, so in the near future the majority of your website traffic will occur on a mobile device. Therefore, launching a new website that is mobile compatible is important. Fortunately they are not that difficult or financially challenging to create provided your NGO is willing to invest the time to create a new website and has access to a credit card as most of these services only accept credit cards as the method of purchase.Using a Content Management System (CMS) makes it very easy to update and edit your own website. To effectively raise money online, NGOs need a website that makes a good first impression.Tools such as Wix, Weebly and Squarespace enable small NGOs to launch modern, well-designed websites that are mobile compatible and easy to update. The website templates include social media integration and fees can be as little as USD $8 a month for a website absent of advertising, with some templates offered in multiple languages.NGOs can also use WordPress.org as a CMS for your website and download a free or low-cost theme to design a mobile-optimized website. To do so, you’ll need a web hosting service such as BlueHost.com. If that’s too complicated, then your NGO could set up a free blog on WordPress.com which offers numerous, easy-to-install mobile-optimized templates. If you decide to go with WordPress.com, you should purchase a ‘.org’ website URL and have it forward to your WordPress.com blog. However, ‘.ngo’ and ‘.ong’ will be available soon.Finally, if you need custom graphics or a new logo, but do not have the financial resources to hire a designer or the graphic design knowledge to create them yourself, contact a university in your area to find a graphic design student and offer to promote their work in exchange for volunteering their services. Or, you could post the volunteer position on your website, blog or Facebook Page and share it on volunteer boards in your country or on Idealist.org, CraigstList or in LinkedIn Groups.2) Launch an e-newsletterFor over a decade e-newsletters have been the driving force behind online donations in developed countries. Invest the time and financial resources into publishing an e-newsletter at least twice monthly. Web-based email communication services such as iContact, Constant Contact or MailChimp make it very simple to launch an e-newsletter with fees starting at USD $15 monthly for email lists of 500 subscribers or less. This can be financially challenging, but is an investment well-made (especially if your goal is to acquire donors in developed countries). If funds are limited, consider asking a major donor to sponsor your e-newsletter for a year in exchange for occasionally promoting their business or service in your e-newsletter.Email communication services offer reporting metrics, such as who opened your email and what links they visited, and eliminate the need to manually manage your email list as your subscribers are stored in an online database and unsubscribes are automatic.To help build your email list, all three services suggested above offer the ability to add e-newsletter opt-in forms to your website. Ensure that the opt-in is prominently featured on your home page and in a sidebar on every page of your website and blog.Finally, it’s important to be aware that e-newsletters that are sent BCC often trigger spam controls and are blocked by email servers.3) Accept donations onlineAccepting online donations can be difficult for many NGOs. Regulations vary widely from country to country and NGOs in some countries can’t accept online payments at all due to a limited online banking infrastructure or sanctions based on perceived terrorist threats. That said, if it is possible for your nonprofit to set up an account to receive credit card payments on PayPal (view list of countries), then no matter how tedious or time-consuming the sign-up process may be, accepting online donations is a huge step forward for your NGO. There’s also Ammado.com which enables NGOS in many countries to accept online donations in 76 currencies.Once your nonprofit has been set up to accept online donations, then add a “Donate Now” button to your home page and every page of your website and blog. You should also create a “Donate” page that details how donors can donate online, wire funds, mail funds or send you mobile money. Also, your e-newsletter design should always include a “Donate Now” button. During times of crisis your NGO should send urgent email fundraising appeals to your e-newsletter list in addition to your bi-monthly e-newsletter.Alternatively, if your NGO has a long-term, close working relationship with a large nonprofit in a developed nation, start a discussion about partnering with them so you can accept online donations through their website. In the United States this is called fiscal sponsorship. It’s not easy to secure, but is a possibility for some NGOs that have been in operation for multiple years and have a proven track record of success. For more information, listen to this podcast about fiscal sponsorship hosted by the Foundation Center. You can also explore the possibility of having one of your projects listed on GlobalGiving.4) Study and mimic large NGOsSmall NGOs can learn a lot by studying the online fundraising and social media campaigns of large NGOs. Analyze their websites and donation pages, subscribe to their e-newsletters and follow them on social media. Review my list of Top 100 NGOs to see some great websites.5) Create a Facebook PageCreating a Facebook Page should be your first step in launching a presence on social media. Telling the story of your NGO through status updates can result in online donations, provided you have the ability to accept online donations on your website.To create a Facebook Page, first create a personal Facebook account and then visit facebook.com/createapage > Company, Organization, or Institution > Select the “Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)” category and then set up your page.To easily create a Facebook cover image, go to PicMonkey.com > Create a collage > FB Cover.For best practices on how to manage your page, please see all posts about Facebook.Finally, to make it easier to promote your page in print materials and online, be sure to reserve your Facebook username at facebook.com/username.Want to know more? Click here for Heather’s Social Media Best Practices for NGOs in Developing Countries.
This is part of a series of articles highlighting the valuable work that Microsoft’s Community Affairs Managers are doing in Asia.Teamwork and collaboration, as Crossing Wang learned in her capacity as Community Affairs Manager at Microsoft China, hold the keys to building successful outreach. And it is that sense of shared purpose that Crossing hopes to achieve in every project she manages—whether it’s working closely with her team members to drive Microsoft’s citizenship efforts or supporting volunteer programmes that bridge employees with the community.Equally important, Crossing believes that corporations such as Microsoft have a pivotal role to play in bridging the opportunity divide in China and empowering underprivileged people to realise their full potential through technology.“As a reputable company with vast experience in running corporate citizenship programmes, we need to set a good example in promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts and motivating more enterprises to bring about a positive change,” said Crossing. “We also see a huge potential for Microsoft to build the capacity of nonprofits by doing what we do best: using technology, which will help improve efficiency in these organisations and bring about long-term benefits.”Having first joined Microsoft in 2005, Crossing is responsible for managing a wide range of CSR activities and projects focused on fostering greater opportunities for young people in China through the recently launched China YouthSpark programme. For instance, she led her team in collaborating with Fuping Development Institute to run 15 community youth centres where digital literacy skills were taught. Microsoft China also partnered with Tsinghua University Student Club to incubate social entrepreneurship and help develop the local technology talents in the country.“The Sichuan earthquake came as a great shock to all of us, and we responded as quickly as we could,” Crossing recalled. “The China team got together within hours to brainstorm about what Microsoft could do. We later donated relief packages and helped local nonprofits in their monitoring efforts. The Microsoft China staff also did their part in contributing money and organising events to help raise funds. We hope that the rebuilding efforts are progressing smoothly.”Another aspect that has brought Crossing considerable satisfaction is the use of information technology (IT) as a powerful tool to impact lives and inspire the next generation of social innovators in China. A recent project that she is very excited about is Microsoft's collaboration with the China Foundation for Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment on a programme that will see the deployment of Office 365™, and, most importantly, aim to benefit more than 8.6 million young people in China.A simple smile from a nonprofit partner, or a hug of appreciation from a trainee graduating from a community youth centre — these serve as a motivation for Crossing to keep at what she has been doing.“I love my job, I love my team, and I am thankful that my work in Microsoft enables me to do my part in contributing to my community!” Crossing concluded.
By Supahrat Juramongkol , Community Affairs Manager, Microsoft ThailandThe future outlook for youth? Bleak.The 56-character title Global Employment Outlook: Bleak Labour Market Prospects is all we need to know about the paper released by the International Labour Organization.The current recession has hit the global job market in many ways. Not only is the mix of jobs transformed, but so is the way they’re being done. Against this backdrop of uncertainty rises the micro-entrepreneur: self-employed small business owners who use their own skill sets or assets as the base of their business. This person acts as the customer, distributor, employee and employer, all rolled into one. More than ever, micro-entrepreneurship plays a key role in poverty alleviation.Last year, the ASEAN Foundation and Microsoft rolled out a new project ‘Enhancing ICT Skills of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in ASEAN’, a spin-off of our earlier project that taught Indonesian farmers ICT skills, to support aspiring entrepreneurs.This new project for SMEs and micro-entrepreneurs (budding and not) has already kicked off in Vietnam. After Thailand, Microsoft will launch it in Indonesia, then in the Philippines.We tend to work with local partners where the project takes place, and for Thailand, that was the Research Center of Communication and Development Knowledge Management (CCDKM). The curriculum was developed by the ASEAN Foundation, and delivered by the very experienced Niko Atmadja and Prima Sari who flew in from Indonesia.
Youth participants in a skills training class
We held training sessions in Thailand’s largest cities, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where young enterprising people were taught technology tools that can improve the productivity of the businesses they want to run–if they are not already doing so.In the beautiful Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai province, we were joined by 18 young people from diverse backgrounds. Some have families running small businesses, and others are interested in starting their own businesses.There was an aspiring fashion designer who regaled us with her designs, and a young man who sat us down to figure out how his family’s homestay business can be improved to help the local community. Sometimes, listening to these young people makes me wonder what I was doing when I was at their age!The students are very bright and focused. They’re young—the youngest was 19 years old—so they need a little nudge in the right direction toward what the business world and financial institutions need: for example, how to use Outlook to send out invitations, how to use auto-response and how to do remote conferencing. They have to also learn how to answer these questions for themselves: How do I differentiate myself from my competitors? Who is my target audience? Why do I sell what I sell?Writing good business plans, proper document management and other skills are vital for SMEs in accessing formal sources of funds for growth. The participants also learnt how to track expenses, generate finance graphics and create blogs.But they are not simply beneficiaries. The training also coached them in using the curriculum to teach other micro-entrepreneurs the same skills, so a multiplier effect can be generated.Jirasak Kumwong, a bright-eyed 25-year-old young man who wants to start his own publication design business told me, “I can’t wait to start the next phase where we’ll pass on our knowledge to other young people like us. We’re looking at training 200 people in all. This is very good. It raises skills of the community across the board.”Another participant said, “I can now make a brochure to advertise and promote my business. I don’t need to hire somebody for that. This will help me to save money!”Spot on!
Microsoft YouthSpark, a vital catalyst for driving the nation’s push towards an innovation economy, spearheaded by young entrepreneurs
Today, in Kuala Lumpur, at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Microsoft Malaysia and the Ministry of Youth and Sports today announced an intent to partner through Microsoft YouthSpark to address the opportunity divide facing young people in Malaysia – a gap between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not.
This partnership will be part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative, which aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth around the world over three years through partnerships with governments, nonprofit organizations and businesses.
YB Khairy Jamaluddin, Youth and Sports Minister, Malaysia and Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Corp
“The launch of this partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports reflects our commitment to supporting and nurturing youth with innovative technology and with the goal of empowering them to realize their full potential through opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship,” said Carlos Lacerda, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia.
Microsoft Malaysia and the Ministry of Youth and Sports will kick off their local partnership by providing training, mentoring and networking opportunities for Malaysian youth, creating a local alumni of Malaysia’s brightest young talent. From this bright young ground they will search for local YouthSpark Stars who will be recognized at the next National Youth Day in May 2014.
The YouthSpark stars will then receive additional support and mentoring to achieve their ambitions ahead of the ASEAN Youth Day in 2015 where it is hoped they will be able to present their stories to the broader region.
Khairy Jamaluddin, Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia, echoed Lacerda’s statement, “The Government is committed to supporting young people to gain the skills required for success in the 21st century. We have a responsibility of nurturing and training young people, but this role is not exclusively the Government’s but is also a shared responsibility with the private sector and other key stakeholders. We are glad that Microsoft has been supporting youth with initiatives like YouthSpark, to enhance the development of employment, entrepreneurial and IT skills through training opportunities and mentoring programs. YouthSpark supports the Government’s push towards an innovation economy, with young people driving efforts to achieve the nation’s aspirations of a high-income, knowledge-based economy by 2020.”
Globally, Microsoft YouthSpark celebrated its first anniversary in September announcing new opportunities had been created for 103 million young people in more than 100 countries in the first year. As part of the announcement, five global YouthSpark Stars were showcased, including Malaysian youth John-son Oei for his innovative work using technology to bring housing to people from the Orang Asli, Malaysia’s indigenous community.
“This recognition of one of our young people is testament to the strength of our local talent and why we want to uncover and nurture even more Malaysian YouthSpark stars in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports,” said Lacerda.
After discussion with the Malaysian Prime Minister YAB Dato’ Seri Mohamad Najib Tun Razak at the Microsoft YouthSpark booth at the event, Akhtar Badshah, Microsoft Corporation’s Senior Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs reemphasized the commitment of Microsoft to Malaysian youth.
Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, Finance Minister II - Najib Razak, Prime Minister Malaysia - Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Corp
“This partnership is very important to us, Malaysia is not alone in identifying a growing gap between the skills of unemployed workers and the skills needed to perform the jobs of today and tomorrow. Beyond the overall risk to economic growth, this is a growing personal crisis for our young people who face an increasingly uncertain future. Closing this opportunity divide is one of the most important actions we can all take – together – to secure the future of our youth and as a result, the future of our global economy,” Badshah said.
Microsoft YouthSpark is focused on three core areas:
“Microsoft YouthSpark goes beyond just philanthropy. It brings together global Microsoft programs including Imagine Cup, Innovate for Good, Skype in the Classroom, BizSpark, Office365 for EDU, DreamSpark and Partners in Learning. We know we can have the biggest impact when we bring our solutions, services and partnerships together to provide young people with access to technology and education, inspire them with opportunities to realize their potential, and help them find a job or start their own business,” added Badshah.
“For over 20 years here in Malaysia, Microsoft has continuously created opportunities for youth to take the lead in changing their lives and making a real impact in their local communities through initiatives in entrepreneurship and education. This has been our ongoing commitment in transforming Malaysia together. With programs such as YouthSpark, we are encouraging innovation and creativity among young, talented entrepreneurs and start-ups. We are committed to supporting the Government’s efforts in building knowledge and innovation-based human capital, and our presence at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2013 is evidence of that support,” said Lacerda.
A year ago, Microsoft announced its collaboration with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), on a partnership entitled “The Spark of Transformation”. Three components are covered under this partnership, each designed to be part of what is hoped will be a robust education system that is essential to develop a knowledge-driven workforce. This would entail working from the ground up on incorporating IT into the school education system, curriculum revision, teacher training and investing in building out the infrastructure.
For more information on Microsoft YouthSpark please click here.
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