June, 2011

  • Social Media Conference Series Off to Successful Start in San Francisco

    By Celeste Alleyne, Citizenship Director for the West Region, Microsoft Corporation

    imageYesterday, Social Media for Nonprofits, with support from Microsoft, kicked off its first in a series of Social Media Conferences for nonprofits in the historical War Memorial "green room" in San Francisco, California.

    As Citizenship Director for the West Region of Microsoft, I was proud to see some 200 nonprofit attendees from around the Bay area, many who attended our first “mini–session” on social media a year ago at the Microsoft NGO Connection Day in Silicon Valley.

    Highlights included: Dr. Kellie McElhaney talking about building trust through your social media communications, and listening to author Guy Kawasaki share many great tips from his book, Enchanted. Guy encouraged attendees to “be trustworthy and likeable”, to tweet repeatedly, and to "always be snapping" – photos, that is – which he emphasized are a great tool to help nonprofits get their points across! Charles Porch from Facebook offered ten basic tips to help nonprofits grow their business using the power of Facebook.  After lunch, attendees heard from nonprofit celeb and author Beth Kanter who always wows the room with inclusive presentations and amazing insights to help nonprofits soar with social media! You can check out Beth’s blog here.

    I was thrilled to be a part of this kick-off event and am so glad that Microsoft is sponsoring this nationwide series. If yesterday’s event was any indication, these events are going to help nonprofits take their use of social media for social good to the next level!

    If you missed yesterday’s event, you can still sign up for one of the upcoming events. Use promotion code “MSFT” at check out to get a $20 discount off of the registration rate.

    See what the crowd was saying in San Francisco’s #sm4np.

  • Joining Forces to Increase Job Opportunities for Military Spouses

    By: Chris Cortez - MajGen, USMC (Ret.), General Manager, Microsoft Strategic Operations, Americas and Asia Pacific

    Cross posted from the FutureFed Blog

    Today, I was proud to represent both my country and my employer, Microsoft, by standing in support of military families at “Joining Forces: Launching the Military Spouse Employment Partnership” which took place at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Joining Forces is a program First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden launched in April to support the “force behind the forces.” A key focus is improving job opportunities for military spouses.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes initiative hosts Dr. Jill Biden – co-chair of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative – and the Department of Defense to launch the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) with Deborah Mullen and Kevin Schmiegel. (Photo by Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce)

    Today’s event was a powerful and meaningful display of commitment. We heard Dr. Biden and Dr. Clifford Stanley, the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, reinforce the significance of supporting military spouses.

    The Defense Department acknowledges that finding employment is a huge challenge for many military spouses. Currently, military spouses face an unemployment rate of 28 percent – nearly three times the national average. What’s worse, they earn an average of 25 percent less than civilian spouses. The President’s Strengthening Our Military Families (PSD-9) report, signed last January, identified increasing opportunities for private-sector and Federal careers for military spouses as an important national goal.

    As her husband, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, watched from the audience, Debbie Mullen noted to a packed room of military and business leaders that of all the causes on which the First and Second Ladies of this country could focus, they have chosen military families. That alone brings together critical backing for the Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP) Program launched today.

    MSEP will directly connect military spouses with organizations specifically looking to hire them. The program expands the Army Spouse Employment Partnership (ASEP), which had 57 corporate partners, to all the branches of the military, adding 15 new corporate partners today. Microsoft is proud to stand as one of these partners to build on the success that ASEP has had in hiring more than 100,000 military spouses since its 2003 launch.

    Our participation in this partnership underscores Microsoft’s commitment to veterans and their families. Our Military2Microsoft program assists U.S. veterans and those serving in the National Guard and Reserve to transition and find job opportunities within Microsoft. This program incorporates a variety of resources online to help make the job search experience easier for military talent. Last year, we launched Microsoft Elevate America Veterans initiative, to provide U.S. veterans and their spouses with the skills and resources they need to successfully find civilian employment.

    As we showcased this past Memorial Day on the Microsoft Unlimited Potential Blog, veterans are successfully participating in the program to advance their careers and improve their quality of life. It’s stories like these that remind us how essential this support is, and it’s why in 2010, we committed to providing $2 million in cash and up to $6 million in software and training to organizations working directly with veterans in local communities across the country over the following two years. Microsoft’s participation in MSEP continues this tradition.

    For photos from today’s event, visit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Hiring Our Heroes” Flickr page.

    For more information on MSEP and how to get involved, please visit :

    Military One Source: http://www.militaryonesource.com/MOS.aspx

    News on the Initiative: http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=64438

  • Social Media for Nonprofits conference tours the United States

    Effective communications most often requires an ability to tell compelling stories that resonate with your audience. Increasingly, Social media enables us to outreach to people from all around the world and engage in the type of conversation that one might normally experience at a dinner table, party, or networking event - leading to engagement, and often, movement.

    At Microsoft Citizenship, we believe that nonprofit organizations have some of the greatest stories to share. Social Media offers the ability for them to disperse their content easily, allowing them to engage current and potential constituents in dialogue. However, the amount of content flowing through the social media space can be overwhelming- it’s not about the quantity, rather the quality of information.

    We are the national sponsor of the Social Media for Nonprofits conference series, and would like to invite you to attend. Please register with promotion code “MSFT” for a $20 discount off the conference registration fee.

    To kick off the series, SocialMedia4Nonprofits.org founders Darian Rodriguez Heyman & Ritu Sharma posted insights on their blog as to what you can expect from this dynamic series- and here is what they had to say:

    Social Media for Nonprofits is a nationwide conference series that provides nonprofit leaders with the tools and resources needed to create, manage, and maximize their social media presence. We designed the program to share practical tips and tools for fundraising, marketing, and advocacy.

    If you signed up to join us, or you’re considering it, thanks!

    What can you expect?

    KeynoteSpeakersTwitter Meets TED: Presentations are short and insight-packed: 30 minutes (including Q&A) for speakers, 45 for panels & keynotes. All presenters are asked to share actionable, easy to implement solutions, vs. heady concepts and theory.

    Feedback Loops in Action: You want it, you got it. We actively listen to our community for input on desired topics and speakers, and then we make it happen. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook and help us help you help others.

    Green Means Go: We’re not big on paper, so if you want a conference program, please grab it from our website. Also, bring a water bottle since we’ll have coolers on site. We encourage using public transit: In SF, the Green Room is accessible via BART & MUNI Underground (Civic Center) and by bus (5, 19, 21, 31, 47, & 49 lines), plus there’s plenty of bike parking out front.

    Stick Around: We all have a lot going on and we realize it’s a lot to ask to have folks spend an entire day at a professional event, but trust us— we’ll make it worth it. Your conference registration includes free access to the 5:30-8:30pm networking reception in all cities, and in SF and Seattle our friends at ZeroDivide helped underwrite “Solution Salons” which are interactive resource-sharing roundtables where everyone gets a chance to share what they’re up to and what they need.

    Engage and Interact: Plan to mix and mingle, and bring lots of business cards. We’ll leave ample time in the program for general schmoozing, as well as facilitating a couple exercises designed to help you get to know your fellow attendees.

    The Social Media for Nonprofits conference series will tour:

    San Francisco (6/29)

    Washington, DC (7/14)

    New York City (8/4)

    Los Angeles (8/22)

    Chicago (9/27)

    Seattle (10/14)

    Atlanta (tbd)

    Looking forward to seeing you there, and again, our door is always open, so please contact Social Media for Nonprofits with any questions or suggestions.

    For more updates from Microsoft Citizenship please sync with us on Facebook or Twitter.

  • Mapping, impact, and digital storytelling: New tools and new insights

    Guest Post by Christopher T. Coward, Principal Research Scientist & Director, Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School, and Joe Sullivan, Research Anaylyst, Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School

    A compelling story is a treasure. Stories provide context that help make sense of (seemingly) independent data. Stories are memorable and can be retold; they help build shared understandings. The way a story is arranged and conveyed plays an important role in how people conceptualize challenges and imagine solutions.

    As researchers at the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington, we have worked with Microsoft Community Affairs for more than five years to study the relationship between computer skills, employability, and social inclusion. We have used stories as a vehicle for communicating scientific research that is also more accessible for non-academic audiences. The stories conveyed additional insights that were sometimes de-emphasized using different formats and data, such as the question of metrics in India. Digital tools and the Internet have made it possible to share stories and combine data in new, compelling ways.

    Now, as Community Affairs launches version two of the Local Impact Map, we look forward to the emergence of new stories and understandings. Microsoft grantees are doing fantastic, innovative work. We discovered many inspiring examples of technology programs that make a difference—to youth, to farmers, in cities, in rural areas. The list is long. We are pleased to see stories and data we collected alongside the many other stories in this map. Microsoft’s global reach and careful selection of its partners has provided resources, credibility, and exposure that catalyzes local efforts. Now the map has made it possible for greater connections among these actors and a better understanding of the impact of their work.

    The stories and data that emerge through this map not only display the efforts of Microsoft’s corporate social responsibility efforts. They are useful for nonprofits and anyone interested in the ways technology can benefit those facing economic and social hardships. Anyone can “zoom” in or out and capture views of data—statistics, human impact stories, geographic patterns—and organize those views according to their own narratives. The tool gives people the ability to tell a high-level impact story supported by specific examples, in a way that was previously onerous (if possible at all).

    We can imagine ways that we may use this tool. We can also imagine ways that other grantees will use this tool to tell “their” story in order to reach new audiences and strengthen their efforts. This expanded storytelling tool provides more momentum for the important work that is being done on the ground and in the lives of disadvantaged populations around the world. We challenge you to take a look at the Local Impact Map, absorb the stories of social responsibility from around the world, and envision how you could tell your stories with a tool like this.

  • Bringing local impact to life

    Jean-Philippe Courtois, President, Microsoft International

    Storytelling is a time-honored tradition in communities and cultures around the globe. However in today’s world, getting the best stories to break through the “noise” can sometimes be a challenge, considering all the digital means we now have to share information.

    In my job, I come across great stories all the time as I travel to roughly 40 countries a year and meet our customers, partners and all the people whose lives are impacted by our technology. I am always very encouraged to see the positive impact technology is having in these communities, and am constantly looking for ways to spread the word on these great stories.

    That is one of the reasons I am very proud to blog about our Local Impact Map.  It’s an online application that brings these stories to life, and shows how technology is making a difference in communities everywhere.  It uses the latest Bing Maps technology to enable you to navigate the globe in seconds and find local stories that might be of interest to you. We now have catalogued 1,400 stories from more than 100 countries on the map. To celebrate the launch of the new version of the Local Impact Map, I would like to share three great stories with you: 


    Story #1: A program in Africa helps young women gain IT skills through mentoring and local community support to complete their educational journey. In partnership with Microsoft, the Global Give Back Circle implemented IT Labs to assist these girls with valuable programming, web design, and productivity tools such as Office. Read more about this inspiring program.


    Story #2: Parents want their children to use computers for all of the amazing learning opportunities that technology can enable, but want to ensure that their kids stay safe online. In Japan, we worked with a nonprofit organization to host an after-school club for the youth in the community, and help them learn about computer safety through games. Check out the story.


    Story #3: In Russia, our employees came together to volunteer their time and provide assistance for a local boarding school for blind children. The team provided new hardware for a computer lab and training for the teachers. This is one of the many examples showcasing our employees giving back to our neighbors around the world.

    As you explore the Local Impact Map, what is your favorite story and what inspires you?

    Please share with us below in the comments, on Twitter, or post it on our Facebook wall. We look forward to hearing how you tell the story. 

     Jean-Philippe Courtois leads global sales, marketing and services for Microsoft International, a territory that spans over 100 subsidiaries operating in over 240 countries outside the United States and Canada. As president of Microsoft International, Courtois drives strategic planning, global operations and key growth initiatives in developed and emerging markets. Outside of Microsoft, Courtois is administrator for PlaNet Finance and Microsoft's official representative at the Institut Montaigne. He has served as co-chairman of the World Economic Forum's Global Digital Divide Initiative Task Force and on the European Commission Information and Communication Technology task force. In 2009, he also served as an EU Ambassador for the Year of Creativity and Innovation, and in 2011 he was named as one of "Tech's Top 25" by The Wall Street Journal Europe. A French national, Courtois obtained his diplôme des études commerciales supérieures (DECS) from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce, Nice (CERAM/Skema).

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