Sourcing for funding is a never-ending journey. But that’s not the only issue nonprofit organisations (NPOs) face on a daily basis. They have to fulfil a whole array of other duties, such as ensuring transparency and accountability, responding immediately to emergencies and crises, and of course, successfully managing their programmes.

At the seventh Microsoft NPO IT Day in Jinan, Shandong, on 25 February 2014, themed “Office 365 Enhances NPOs’ Management Capability”, Microsoft China introduced Office 365 as a solution to address NPOs’ need to collaborate and manage their operations more effectively. In addition to representatives from NPOs operating in Shandong province, government officials also attended to better understand how to develop civil society in Shandong, and saw Office 365 as a vital resource.

During the opening speech by Lester Lin, Shandong General Manager, Microsoft China, he highlighted how Microsoft wants to support the local community. He later said, “Office 365 can help NPOs and government agencies alike leverage the latest collaboration tools and cloud technology, enabling them to enhance their operations and management and, in turn, improve the services they provide to the communities they assist.

Demonstrations and trainings on Exchange, Lync and SharePoint were held to explain how the programme works to the benefit of NPOs. Microsoft volunteers also conducted group discussions on how Office 365 can help alleviate collaboration barriers and improve the way NPOs operate. This was especially crucial for the many local development NPOs, such as China Youth Development Foundation (CYDF), that serve communities across large geographical areas. CYDF, among the first to apply for the Microsoft Office 365 donation programme, was granted 20,000 Office 365 subscriptions, and will soon be synchronising its email and collaboration platforms for its nationwide network of over 4,000 employees and 18,000 Hope Project schools. Aid workers, too, saw the potential of Office 365 in facilitating humanitarian logistics and fund allocation.

“Despite the potential difficulties we might face during the Office 365 implementation, we will still work hard to overcome these challenges and outfit all our offices with Office 365 due to the enormous benefits we stand to gain in terms of collaboration, management and communication,” said Director of Innovation Department Dr. Dong Chao, China Youth Development Foundation.

Billy Tang, General Manager of Information Technology Resource Centre, Hong Kong Council of Social Service, shared the best practices of using Office 365 in the Hong Kong nonprofit sector.

Microsoft’s engagement in China also extends to other initiatives, including a Bing-China Social Welfare Foundation partnership to create a philanthropic platform based on Azure.

Since 2010, Microsoft has been hosting NPO IT Day annually, which includes major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Nanjing with an aim to enhance the use of IT to improve the efficiency and management capabilities of NPOs.

“Office 365 can help NPOs and government agencies alike leverage the latest collaboration tools and cloud technology, enabling them to enhance their operations and management and, in turn, improve the services they provide to the communities they assist.”

Lester Lin, Shandong General Manager, Microsoft China