Posted by Dan Bross
Senior Director, Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft

One of the great things about working at Microsoft is having access to an incredible array of technologies that help us get work done. One of my favorite applications is the Local Impact Map, an online storytelling tool that we’re making available to commercial organizations who want a compelling way to share the impact of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs online.

Microsoft has Citizenship programs underway in more than one hundred countries around the world. One of the problems we face is this: how do we bring the scale, reach and impact of our programs to life? Well that’s exactly why we developed the Local Impact Map. It’s a beautiful, easy-to-use tool that provides the perfect platform for showcasing community programs.

As I travel around the world and meet with a variety of different people, the Local Impact Map has become an indispensable tool in telling the story of Microsoft’s work with partners around the world – from our commitment to provide technology to Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States to supporting IT labs in Kenya that help disadvantaged girls complete their educational journey. With the Map we have a single, public repository for our work.

We’ve had a lot of interest in the Map from nonprofit and for-profit organizations, so we’ve taken the decision to make it available by subscription and enable organizations to create their own Map to tell their stories and show their impact.

The Local Impact Map is an online software as a service, which combines Windows Azure with Bing Maps to provide a fully hosted and self-service application that organizations can begin using in a matter of minutes. The whole system is powered by a robust content management system that only requires a Windows Live ID to login. You can assign different roles to your team, and there’s even a workflow to help with the publishing process.

You sign up online and you can publish your own custom map to your website by pasting a simple embed code to an HTML web page. The IT department will thank you.

We’ve already been working with a number of organizations, such as UnitedHealthcare (UHC), that have been piloting their own Local Impact Map and are using it internally for their 80,000 employees to contribute stories of their volunteer work. Volunteerism is one of their CSR pillars and Kate Rubin, UHC’s vice president, Social Responsibility said, “The impact map fits extremely well into our culture of innovation at UnitedHealth Group. We continually strive for new ways of doing things better, including making systems more intuitive and more engaging for our employees. Just months after introducing it, more than 130 volunteering and giving stories have been added to the map. With the use of this tool, we’ve been able to replace old, time-consuming processes with an interactive, visually interesting and exciting tool.”

In addition to commercial companies, we have piloted the map application with our longstanding software donation nonprofit partner, TechSoup. Marnie Webb is one of their co-CEOs, and she has been an enthusiastic advocate for how technology can help nonprofits do more with less.

“Before implementing the Local Impact Map, we had case studies in different formats, such as PDF files, Word documents and PowerPoint presentations, scattered all across the organization. It made me nuts,” Marnie said. “The Local Impact Map gave us the ability to put all these case studies into one place. Some of the features on it, like Snapshot, allow us to create a customized trail for those stories with a single link. So if I want to show one of our corporate partners how their technology donations made a difference in the lives of certain organizations, I can choose six stories I think they’ll be most interested in, and get a single link to share with them. So, it’s a very robust tool.”

The Local Impact Map is an example of how we’re committed to bringing the benefits of technology to nonprofits. We’re looking forward to reading more about others’ community impact very soon. View the Local Impact Map product page: http://www.microsoft.com/about/corporatecitizenship/en-us/map.aspx

Subscribe to the Local Impact map today!