Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Last Friday we had the pleasure of announcing Seattle Works as one of three worthy winners of the Tech for Good Contest sponsored by Microsoft and TechSoup. With so many great entries, it was hard to pick just three winners, but Seattle Works rose to the top for their innovative use of the cloud as a way to reduce expenses and rethink collaboration during tough economic times.
Two years ago, Seattle Works – like many nonprofits – was faced with sobering reductions in corporate and individual giving. With an eye on surviving a sustained economic downturn, the organization decided to turn to one of their guiding principles – innovation – to ensure they were positioned to not only survive, but to emerge more agile and flexible than before.
Seattle Works took stock of their expenses to see where they could make cuts to get ahead of the new economic reality. They quickly realized their physical office space was a substantial monthly drain when they considered the total cost of rent, parking, servers, storage, phone systems, and more. Embracing their innovative core value, they decided to take a leap – to the cloud! They traded their more traditional office space for a smaller, more flexible workspace, and added “virtual workspace” by implementing Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite. “BPOS,” as it is commonly referred to, includes Microsoft Exchange Online for email and calendaring; Microsoft SharePoint Online for web-based collaboration portals and document sharing; Microsoft Office Communications Online for instant messaging and peer-to-peer audio calls; and Office Live Meeting for web and video conferencing.
Having these tools at their disposal, but not having to host and maintain them on their own servers meant Seattle Works was able to define a new way of working. Now, Seattle Works staff still collaborates, shares files, meets and chats, but instead of commuting to the office every day, they have a flexible workspace. In their words, “We shifted our notion of what a workspace looked and felt like… When all was said and done, the net difference was almost $20,000, which – for a small nonprofit like Seattle Works – is a considerable cost savings!”
“Microsoft BPOS has enabled our team to work from anywhere in the world – literally! We have sent weekly emails from Washington DC, from 10,000 feet in the air, and even from Egypt!” said Bevin Wong, Communications and Development Coordinator for Seattle Works. “Staff can go from an in-person meeting with a community partner in the U-District, to a staff meeting via Microsoft Live Meeting at a coffee shop across the street, to a training on the other side of town all without skipping a beat. No snow storm, car troubles or anything short of a real apocalypse can stop Seattle Works from connecting volunteers, developing emerging leaders and inspiring dialogue.”
Further, Seattle Works has also been able to use SharePoint Online to engage their board and give them a dedicated space to collaborate and share files. “Our board is comprised of smart, talented and very busy individuals,” said Bevin. “The time that they spend on behalf of Seattle Works is time we want to maximize and use wisely.” Giving them their own space to collaborate on SharePoint helps them access what they need without rifling through old email attachments, freeing board members up to focus their time and talents where it can help Seattle Works most.
You might say that Seattle Works has performed magic with the help of the cloud. Despite shrinking their physical office space and their expenses, the organization has grown its number of volunteers, volunteer hours, and its programs in the last year. They are truly an inspiring example of how technology can help nonprofit organizations do more with less. Congratulations to Seattle Works on their Tech for Good Award, but most importantly for tapping their innovative spirit and the potential of technology to engage volunteers and inspire new leaders in our community!
You may not be ready to downsize your office space, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t benefit from the cloud. To learn more about how the cloud could help your organization, attend our free webinar on February 23rd, “To the Cloud: What it is and why it matters to nonprofits and public libraries,” or visit www.microsoft.com/cloud. Also, Make sure you are taking advantage of the technology resources available to you for little to no cost by visiting our technology donations page.
Learn more and get involved with Seattle Works at www.seattleworks.org!
Did you miss yesterday’s Tech for Good Contest post? See how Densho used technology to preserve history.
To see all the entries in our Tech for Good Contest, visit www.showyourimpact.org/microsoft.
For more information on Microsoft’s Citizenship effort please visit:
To stay up to date on the latest Citizenship Stories:
Last Friday when Pamela Passman announced Seattle-based
nonprofit, Densho, as a winner of the Technology for Good contest sponsored by Microsoft and TechSoup, she did so to a
packed house of local nonprofits who were eager to both share and learn about the
impact of technology on the "business" of social good.
As the applause subsided and the tweets flowed,
you could see the excitement beaming from the face of Densho's Executive
Director, Tom Ikeda.
A former Microsoft employee, Tom Ikeda has dedicated his
life to building a permanent digital memory to teach the story of Japanese
Americans who were incarcerated during World War II. During World War II,
120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds American citizens, were removed from
their homes on the West Coast and incarcerated in ten detention facilities
located in desolate inland spots in the United States. These men, women, and
children were guilty of no crime, but were imprisoned behind barbed wires
because of their ancestry. Densho's goals are to video-record oral history
interviews of camp survivors, preserve and organize these stories for future
generations, and widely share these stories across the country (and the world)
to bring attention to this important yet largely forgotten chapter in American
Tom Ikeda interviews Fred Hoshiyama to include his story in the Densho
Choosing not to have a physical museum in order to keep its
costs low, Densho immediately recognized
the need to utilize technology for storing and organizing massive amounts of
digital data. To do this, Densho used a wide range of Microsoft Office solutions
to plan projects, produce interviews, and process the interviews. They used SQL Server to organize the
interviews, and ASP.NET and Visual Studio made it possible for them to display
materials on the web.
(Video)Microsoft Citizenship's Nathan J. Peterson got a
chance to chat with Tom Ikeda directly after receiving the award for Densho.
Tom Ikeda explained, "The ability of SQL Server to organize
our primary source materials was the foundation of our content strategy. SQL
Server organized meta data and kept track of tens of thousands of objects. When
the Japanese-American community wanted more stories preserved, the database
allowed easy expansion. When teachers wanted access to these materials, we used
ASP.NET and Visual Studio to create user friendly websites."
The result? Over 450 interviews, and 10,800 photos and
documents on its website, sharing to over 150,000 website visitors from all 50
states and 123 countries; "Our website usage grows every year" Tom explained, "By
using Microsoft products we've created an innovative system of collecting and
sharing historical materials that are recognized and appreciated by both
individuals and institutions."
In 2010, C-SPAN searched Densho's website and is now broadcasting dozens of
full interviews from its network and website. At a time when heritage
organizations face funding cuts, Densho's funding grows 20% annually. Densho's
efforts have effectively preserved an important piece of American history. We
believe their work with technology can inspire nonprofits around the world to
explore what technology can do to enhance your story, your effort, and your
mission of social good. It's one of the reasons we donate our software to
nonprofits everywhere. Make sure you are
taking advantage of the technology resources available to you for little to no
cost by visiting our technology
For more information about Densho, visit: www.densho.org
To see all Tech for Good contest submissions, visit
For more information on Microsoft's Citizenship effort
RSS for the Unlimited
Every year the internet is growing as a common element in the daily lives of more families around the world. Children are beginning to use the internet at a younger age for many reasons such as social networking, school, and gaming. This growing trend has created welcome discussion amongst adults who understand the potential risks of leaving decisions on online privacy and safety in the hands of minors who may not understand the implications of these issues. This raises the question of how do you keep your family safe online?
What better time to explore this question then on the international Safer Internet Day (SID)? SID is an annual event dedicated to promoting responsible use of the internet and mobile technology, particularly among children and youth. Organized each year by Brussels-based Insafe and co-founded by the European Union, February 8, 2011, marks the eighth SID. This year’s theme focuses on “our virtual lives” under the banner, “It’s more than a game, it’s your life.”
This year we are embracing the online-gaming theme in the U.S. Microsoft-commissioned a survey of American parents of online gamers which shows that parents and children spend a significant amount of time playing online games together.
· On average, parents and their children play nearly 1.5 hours per day;
· More than 80% of parents play with their children at least once a week, and
· More than half of parents’ gaming hours are spent playing with their children.
To add a bit of fun to helping people learn about online safety , we are teaming with our partners at local Boys and Girls Clubs to sponsor a series of "Family ‘Online’ Game Nights", featuring Kinect® for XBOX® 360. The events will be held in three cities: Atlanta (February 8), Chicago (February 10), and Los Angeles (February 15). Staff, kids, parents and caregivers will have the opportunity to play games, learn how to engage in game-play more safely, and pick up educational materials about personal and family online safety. Microsoft has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for more than 10 years to help give kids the technology skills they need to succeed in school and life, and we are proud to collaborate with them to provide the tools they need to be safe while online!
For more on gaming safety:
· Visit: www.GetGameSmart.com to learn more about safer online gaming for you and your family
· View or download Microsoft’s safer online gaming brochure
Want to join the conversation and learn more about online safety for your family? Here are some resources:
· Check out Microsoft Citizenship’s Privacy and Security page
· Visit www.microsoft.com/protect for general online safety advice and guidance
· Follow www.twitter.com/Safer_Online on Twitter
· Discuss your opinions on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SaferOnline
· Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to help protect individuals online are detailed in a new white paper, “Personal Online Safety in the Cloud
Last week, I facilitated an interactive keynote in Seattle at the 2011 Tech for Good Leadership Summit sponsored by Microsoft Community Affairs, in partnership with NPower Seattle. By all accounts, the event held the space for peer learning.
It was great to see long-time colleague from NPower Seattle Peg Giffels who I met ten years ago when she first joined the staff. I was presenting a strategic technology workshop at one of their conferences. I also got to meet the dynamic NPower Seattle executive director Alison Carl White who talked passionately about her organization's mission and programs. And I also got to catch up with more recent NPtech colleagues San McColloch, Erica Mills, and Peter Drury.
NPtech Colleagues: @zanarama Zan McColloch Lussier @ericamills Erica Mills @seattledrury Peter Drury photo by Akhtar Badshah
Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Global Community Affairs for Microsoft kicked off the day with an interactive presentation about the trends in nonprofit technology. He didn't do the "sage of the stage" thing, he gave ample opportunities for the audience to digest the ideas he shared as well as to engage them in conversation. Alison Carl White from NPower Seattle has a good summary on her blog.
That got me thinking… There are people who just want an expert on the stage to share their wisdom. They don't want to engage, reflect, or hear what others in the room are doing. I just don't like that style because it prevents deeper sharing of insights. On the other hand, people do want those tips and best practices. So, letting the knowledge out in the room isbecomes a balancing act of peer interaction with expert insights. So, hHow can you do that in a keynote with several hundred people in the room? It's a design challenge.
1. Don't Just Research Your Audience, Make Them Part of the Presentation
I used a brief pre-survey where I was able to collect information about success stories, challenges, and current social media usage. I incorporated examples from people in the room and then asked them to talk about themit. As the facilitator, you have to design questions so they illicit stories.
The survey asked participants to share a story that illustrates how social media has brought value to their organizations. I've asked this question before, but this is the first time I had so many stories that it was hard to narrow it down to a few. I used a "living case study" approach - doing an interview with them selected attendees to share how they achieved their success. This generated some fantastic insights:
Foundation for Early Learning shared a story about how they used social media channels to spread awareness about a funding program and how it resulted in getting the information to a wider audience - a 33% increase in traffic and downloads of the information. When asked to share how they achieved their success, they told the audience about the importance of doing homework in the form of listening and setting realistic expectations for results.
Northwest Harvest Food Bank used its social media channels to mobilize supporters to give food donations that ended up breaking a Guinness Book of World Records!. While you could visit their blog, Facebook page, and Twitter stream to see how they engaged and mobilized their supporters, the hidden gem came out when asked, "What was the secret to your success?" Turns out Tthey had a partnership with a number of other hunger organizations and advocates who worked as volunteers to share the word of the record-breaking food drive through their networks, leveraging a networked effect.
Museum of History and Industry ( MOHAI) uses social media to engage with Seattle residents whom they would not be able to connect with otherwise, and who want to have a say in how history is being interpreted. Thise video is part of a series of "MOHAI Minute" videos on Youtube. The woman in the mouth of the Alligator was in the room. She told the story of how she created the videos herself initially, but when they started to catch on, she documented the results. She was able to go to her boss and get some more resources in the budget for social media.
Seattle Symphony created a flashmob and promoted it with Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter effectively. It directly increased ticket sales. In this living case study, the staff person from the Seattle Symphony shared how they did conversion tracking. I asked her where they got the idea for doing a flash mob. She mentioned how useful Twitter is for connecting and following peers to get ideas to evolve pilots for social media initiatives. What is remarkable - as busy as they are getting the Symphony on the stage, this staff makes time for on- the- job, informal learning through social media.
Photo by Microsoft Citizenship
2. Use Metaphor or Inspirational Quote that Sums Up Your Key Point and Use It Throughout
Over the past year, as more and more nonprofits are embracing social media, we are starting to see different levels of practice or "maturity of practice." On Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday this year, I came across a quote that offered a good metaphor for such a framework:
"If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."
I created an assessment framework that a nonprofit could use to determine the level of their current social media practice and a way to think about getting to the next steplevel. I explained the model and had people discuss it with their peers. and then we had a full group discussion about where people were and what was needed to get to the next step. The full group discussion allowed people at different levels to share their experiences.
Twitter Advocates: NPower's Ash Shepard (@NPTech_Ash) and Microsoft Citizenship's Nathan J. Peterson (@NathanJTweets)
3. Use Twitter to Bring More People Into Tthe Conversation
The conference hashtag #watech4good was used to encourage people both in the room and not in the room to Tweet - and ask questions. I appointed two Twitter advocates who live- Tweeted the discussion and also verbalized questions and comments from Twitter, providing a link between online and offline.
4. Give Them aA Couple of Practical Tips or Insights tTo Solve Their Problems
The survey asked participants to share their great social media challenges. These boiled to do: Lack of strategy, capacity issues, adoption issues, and lack of measurement techniques and approaches. I used their problems input to share a few points about how to begin to address those challenges, holding the space for other participants to add their knowledge.
What people in the room were most hungry for were tips and steps on listening and measurement. After my keynote, I was asked to tweet a few good links to help people get started, something they could read back at the office.
Actionable Social Media Listening for Nonprofits
Social Network Analysis Tools for Social Media
Get Your Social Media Strategy in Shape: Spreadsheet Aerobics
How Feeding America Uses KPIs to Measure Social Media
A Roundup of Social Media Measurement Resources for Nonprofits
To do keynotes that illicit peer learning on a large scale takes careful design. Most of us - when faced with a presentation - only think about content, we don't think about ways to spark interaction. It's a challenge to shift from focusing on your "getting your content out" to "how to spark insights from the audience," but as we saw at the Microsoft Tech for Good Leadership Summit last week, it is well worth doing.
After years of working to build the technology capacity of nonprofits, I have to admit: great examples of technology for good can be elusive. I often hear nonprofit organizations say, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” They want great examples from their peers for both inspiration and to share in the lessons learned. They don’t have time to find these examples. Nonprofit case studies seem to elude us all.
It is for this reason that Microsoft decided to work with our long-time partner, TechSoup Global, to sponsor the 2011 Tech for Good Contest for Washington State nonprofits and public libraries. We wanted to help highlight organizations using technology to engage their communities and create real impact. More than 50 Washington State nonprofits and public libraries stepped up to share their stories of technology for good. And they weren’t just good, they were great...
With so many wonderful entries, selecting three winners was not easy. But today, at our Tech for Good Leadership Summit in Redmond, Washington, we were pleased to announce the Tech for Good contest winners and share their inspirational and savvy examples of technology use with the 200+ nonprofit staff in attendance.
And the winners are…
Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project
Densho is a Seattle-based nonprofit that promotes awareness and critical thought about civil liberties through the preservation and examination of the Japanese-American experience during World War II. Densho needed a better way to capture, preserve and widely share the stories of a disappearing generation of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II. In lieu of operating a physical museum, Densho was able to use SQL Server, Visual Studio, and ASP.NET to digitally collect, preserve and – most importantly – share these personal stories on its site, which includes over 10,800 photos and documents and over 450 interviews of Japanese Americans. Today, Densho has more than 150,000 web site visitors from all 50 states and 123 countries, a reach they couldn’t have dreamed of achieving without the help of technology.
Read Densho’s full contest submission >>
Visit densho.org >>
Seattle Works' mission is to connect volunteers, develop emerging leaders and inspire dialogue. When the economy hit rough times, Seattle Works, like many organizations, saw both corporate and individual gifts decline. They knew they needed change how they were spending money in order to survive. So they gathered their courage and took a leap – to the cloud! To reduce high fixed costs related to their physical office space (rent, parking, phone service, hardware, and data storage, to name a few), Seattle Works implemented Microsoft’s cloud solution, Business Productivity Online Suite (“BPOS”). They now use SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, LiveMeeting (online meeting software) and Communicator to collaborate virtually. In their words, “Staff can go from an in-person meeting with a community partner in the U-District, to a staff meeting via Microsoft Live Meeting at a coffee shop across the street, to a training on the other side of town all without skipping a beat. No snow storm, car troubles or anything short of a real apocalypse can stop Seattle Works from connecting volunteers, developing emerging leaders and inspiring dialogue.” Seattle Works shifted its notion of what a workspace could look like, and shaved nearly $20,000 off their expenses in the process.
Read Seattle Works’ full contest submission >>
Visit seattleworks.org >>
YWCA Seattle, King & Snohomish County
The YWCA Seattle, King & Snohomish County advances the quality of life for women of all ages, races and faiths, and their families. But with offices and services spread over 32 geographical locations, they were struggling with efficient communications, collaboration and work processes. According to Cathy MacCaul at the YWCA, “Every minute wasted looking for or recreating a file, document or process was time wasted from the service of our clients.” Using Active Directory and SharePoint, they were able to network all locations together and create a robust intranet. “The ability to bring all locations into a centralized medium for information, document sharing, and collaborative tools has revolutionized this organization.” Further, they used InfoPath to automate more than 50% of their processes, moving key organizational processes from manual, paper-based processes to dynamic, electronic workflows hosted in SharePoint. Staff is collaborating more, better able to share mission-critical information, and can shift focus to what matters: the mission.
Read YWCA Seattle’s full contest submission >>
Visit ywcaworks.org >>
Congratulations to all of our winners, who will each receive a $5,000 cash grant, up to $100,000 worth of donated Microsoft software, and consulting services donated by NPower Seattle to help them continue their journey of IT adoption. I can’t wait to see what they do next!
Finally, while our winners will provide inspiration to many nonprofits who want to “know what they don’t know,” I hope you’ll also take a look at the other stories in the Submission Gallery, each is a winner in their own right.
On a personal level, I hope these stories will encourage you to learn more about what technology can do for your nonprofit. Why not to visit our software donations page to discover how you can receive software donations from Microsoft.
Thanks to everyone who entered the contest, we all now have a fantastic gallery of nonprofits using technology for good. Here’s to continued learning from and with you!
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