July, 2011

  • Help your favorite nonprofit get a software donation

    Today we’re announcing updates to our nonprofit software donations program to enable more nonprofits around the world to get easier access to the technology they need, when they need it.

    While we currently provide software donations to over 40,000 nonprofits each year, we’re just getting started and we need your help.

    Many nonprofit organizations, including some in your local community, are not aware that they can request a donation of Microsoft software.  Help us spread the word.   Together, we can ensure nonprofits have access to affordable technology to help them do more with their limited resources.

    There are two ways you can help:

    1)      Share the video (below) with your colleagues, friends and family to raise awareness of a great resource available to nonprofits.

    2)      Make your cause our cause: Reach out to your favorite nonprofit and make sure they’re aware of the Microsoft donations program.  To make it as easy as possible, we’ve drafted a note below that you can use.

    To those who have already helped, a big thank you from everyone at Microsoft!


    To my favorite nonprofit:

    I think the work you do in our community is amazing.  I know how challenging it is to try and do more with less.   

    So how can you boost productivity, raise more funds, increase your reach, and deliver new or better services in our community? How about a donation of software from Microsoft? I wanted to make sure you know that eligible nonprofit organizations can request a software donation.  There are still many nonprofits that don’t know about the donations program.  Do you?

    Eligible nonprofit organizations can choose from a wide range of Microsoft desktop and server products (including Office and Windows).  Check out www.microsoft.com/nonprofit to see what’s available and learn how to apply.  In fact, if you are in one of these 35 countries with a local TechSoup program, you may be able to get technology donations from other companies too, like Cisco, Symantec, or Adobe.

    Maybe you already knew all this.  If so, that’s great.  I want you to keep doing good stuff in our community, and know that access to the latest technology can help.  It would be great if you could share this note with other nonprofits too.

    By spreading the word, together, we can help millions of nonprofits get access to the technology they need to best serve communities worldwide.


    Your supporter

    More information:

  • Expanding Microsoft software donations to more nonprofits

    Today we are making a number of updates to our global software donations program designed to give more nonprofit organizations access to the technology they need, when they need it.  We’re currently reaching more than 40,000 organizations around the world each year – translating into over $3.9 billion of donated software since 1998 - but we know there’s a great opportunity to reach even more nonprofits and communities.

    The updates to the program are part of our commitment to bring the benefits of software to more nonprofits to support positive social and economic development in local communities around the world.  Every day we see first-hand how software is helping nonprofits reduce their costs, boost productivity, raise more funds, and ultimately deliver new and improved services in their local communities.

    There are a number of updates we’re announcing today, including:

    • Increasing the allotment of different Microsoft software products that can be requested by each nonprofit from six to 10 titles, enabling nonprofit organizations to get the software they need such as Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010, Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, etc.
    • Adding three new categories of nonprofit organizations eligible for software donations (assuming they have proper nonprofit status as defined in their countries), including: medical research organizations, private foundations and amateur sports and recreational organizations.
    • Including a new Get Genuine offering so nonprofits can ensure their existing computers are running genuine versions of Microsoft operating systems to help keep their software up-to-date and secure.

    In addition to these changes which apply to over 100 countries, we are also adding additional changes for the 35 countries who are served by the TechSoup Global Network including Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Rep., Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK, and the United States:

    • Nonprofits can now request a software donation from Microsoft through the TechSoup Global Network whenever they need it instead of the previous limit of only one request per year.
    • Nonprofit organizations ordering their donations through the TechSoup Global Network can now easily get key donations details in one place with the Microsoft Donation Center, a new section of the TechSoup Web site where organizations can review their donation history and identify products their organization can request.

    These new updates are effective immediately.

    If you work in a nonprofit organization, please go to http://www.microsoft.com/nonprofit to review eligibility guidelines and learn how to apply.

    You can also read more about the program changes in detail on TechSoup’s site: Overview of Microsoft Software Donations, and you can review our Frequently Asked Questions.

    If you don’t work in a nonprofit, take a minute to look at the video below and tell your favorite nonprofit how they can get a software donation from Microsoft. We’ve created some text you can use that makes it simple.

    Please help us spread the word, and make your cause, our cause.

    Akhtar Badshah, senior director of community affairs, Microsoft.

  • Tech Talent 4 Good

    Edward G. Happ, Global CIO of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

    Editor’s note: Ed Happ, CIO of the International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is one of the key individuals we at Microsoft look to for guidance and feedback on our work the NGO community. We think his blog post below offers some terrific insight and reflection for anyone considering work with, or already engaged with community organizations on their IT needs and so we are cross-posting from his blog. Enjoy!

    I recently attended the launch of the Microsoft and AIESEC Tech Talent 4 Good student intern programme at the Microsoft Executive Briefing center in Brussels. I had proposed a similar programme to Microsoft a year ago, and so was asked to speak to the initial class of students and participate in a "Day in the Life of an NGO" panel. Here is a brief outline of my remarks:

    What are the qualities needed for working in an NGO?

    1. Passion - you have to believe in the mission
    2. Triage - not all the good can be done
    3. Patience - on decisions; consensus is messy and takes time
    4. Forgiveness - rather than permission
    5. Openness - immerse yourselves in the conversations

    Others mentioned listening skills, relationship skills and sense of humor.

    What were my career choices that brought me to the nonprofit word?

    1. I'm on my 3rd of 5 careers (See Charles Handy on careers in the post-modern era)
    2. Why? A shift from success to significance

    What is strategic IT for nonprofits?

    1. The Relevant IT Manifesto; technology more for:

    a) delivering program scale than support

    b) as the glue for communities

    c) working together more than solo

    d) the field than for HQ

    1. The IT Strategy Pyramid: Get out (of lights-on tech), get in (to beneficiary tech), move up (to more mission-moving tech.)

    Where has there been progress?

    1. Wiring the Village – we have taken the connections out the countries where we work, now to the branches and project areas
    2. Collaboration – we are working together on projects, and trusting centers of tech leadership
    3. Emergency Response – we have taken ICT from rapid connecting of relief workers, to shared networks and connecting survivors

    What is possible and exciting about the future?

    1. Everyone is less than 2 degrees from being connected – world population of 6.9B, 5B cell phones with 20-30% as two phone users, means 4.4B mobile users
    2. The mobile users in emerging and emergency relief countries are the new connectors – In Haiti 10% reach 100%
    3. Consumer tech as more relevant than corporate tech for the vulnerable, and the organizations who work with them

    My Advice for students?

    1. Go to the far country, a hotbed of innovation – the IFRC App Inventory case: discovering 53 volunteer management applications in our national societies, not in HQ
    2. Your experience is not the world’s experience – Why? Imagine Cup case: No sense of limitation
    3. No rules, no limits: get it done – the case of Shawn Ahmed: free agent philanthropy

    What are the relevant stories?

    1. Naomi Fils-Aime in Haiti – “Life is very difficult: [cholera and hurricane] messages help me protect my family” – the IFRC SMS program
    2. The starfish story revisited – think big, start small, but get started!

    Disclaimer: The opinions in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent positions, strategies or opinions of any of the organizations with which I am associated.

    Edward G. Happ is the Global CIO of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and Chairman of NetHope (www.nethope.org), a U.S. based consortium of 34 leading international relief, development and conservation nonprofits focused on information and communications technology (ICT) and collaboration.

  • European students helping nonprofits with technology

    Sylvie Laffarge, Director Community Affairs Europe at Microsoft.

    Last December we announced the Tech Talent 4 Good pilot program, which offered European IT students an internship with a nonprofit, charitable organization in Europe and following a competitive selection process, ten internships were awarded.

    This pilot is a natural extension of the work Microsoft has been doing with nonprofit organizations around the world for over two decades. Technology can be an amazing tool for social and economic development. With the Tech Talent 4 Good pilot, in partnership with AIESEC, we are tapping into the energy and passion of IT students and enabling them to apply their technology skills in a non-profit environment to support organizations that are serving the most vulnerable in our society. The interns are working on a diversity of projects from IT administration to IT deployment projects, application development and database management.

    The internships are taking place in nine countries across Europe until August:

    · Caritas Europa, Brussels, Belgium

    · InHope, Amsterdam, Netherlands

    · Medecins sans Frontières, Paris, France

    · Save the Children International, London, UK

    · Special Olympics Europe EurAsia, Dublin, Ireland

    · Concern Worldwide, Dublin, Ireland

    · SOS Children’s villages, Innsbruck, Austria

    · International Federation of the Red Cross, Geneva, Switzerland

    · Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise, Brussels, Belgium

    · Transparency International, Berlin, Germany

    If you’d like to hear from the students themselves you can follow their blogs:

    · Maria Sotiri

    · Liannet Reyes

    · Michalis Tolkas

    Ed Granger Happ also has some interesting observations on the Tech Talent 4 Good program you can read here

    Sylvie Laffarge, Director Community Affairs Europe at Microsoft.

    Sylvie J. Laffarge is Director of Community Affairs and oversees Microsoft’s community and philanthropic investments and outreach in Europe. This includes leading Microsoft’s flagship community investment programs including the Unlimited Potential, Community Technology Skills Program, software donations and employee volunteering.

  • Jobs Follow Talent: The Need for Education and High-Skilled Immigration Reform

    Brad Smith, General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Microsoft Corporation

    Cross posted from the Microsoft on the Issues blog.

    Today, I had the opportunity to discuss the need for education and high-skilled immigration reform when I testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security at a hearing on “The Economic Imperative for Immigration Reform.”

    The essence of my testimony is that while we undoubtedly have a jobs problem in this country, closer analysis shows it is also a talent and skills problem. In a world where jobs follow talent, we need to increase the skills of the American workforce if we are to succeed economically.

    Education is clearly a priority. Today, we face a dual unemployment rate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics last month estimated that the unemployment rate for individuals with a college degree or more is only 4.4 percent. For those individuals with only a high school diploma, the unemployment rate is 10 percent. And the problem may get worse. According to a recent Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study, between 1973 and 2008, the share of jobs in the U.S. economy that required postsecondary education rose from 28 percent to 59 percent. This share is projected to rise to 63 percent by 2018. The same study shows that by 2018 we are likely to fall short on the number of college graduates our economy needs. We have a skills gap.

    At Microsoft we are trying to play our part in tackling this challenge. This spring, we joined with several others to launch Washington STEM, a privately funded program to improve teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and math. Last month, we also pledged $25 million over the next five years to the new public-private Washington Opportunity Scholarship that will increase the number of students earning bachelor’s degrees. Just last week, we announced a new $15 million investment in research and development for immersive learning technologies in schools across the country.

    Improving education is a first-tier need, but obviously it will take time. Enhancing the skills of our country’s workforce also depends on targeted efforts to attract relatively small numbers of the best people from elsewhere in the world to bring their skills and talent to work here. A strategic immigration policy for high-skilled workers can help create more jobs here for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike. At Microsoft, we’ve seen first-hand how the combination of American talent and the best-educated from around the world can fuel innovation and job creation here in the United States. A recent University of Washington study shows that every skilled Microsoft job supports 5.8 other jobs in Washington State.

    And it isn’t just about filling the near term skills gap. There should always be a place in the American economy for the best and brightest from around the world to bring their talent here, and help create other American jobs.

    In our debate about how to get our nation’s economy back on track, we have to include discussion about modernizing our country’s broken immigration system, a system that hasn’t seen a major change in law since 1990. In my testimony, I outlined some specific steps our country needs to take. Given the new global mobility of jobs, the ability to add talent to our population is of the utmost importance. The U.S. needs leadership from Congress and the Administration to take the types of steps that will revitalize economic growth and job creation.


    Brad Smith is Microsoft's general counsel and senior vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs. He leads the company's Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), which has just over 1,000 employees and is responsible for the company's legal work, its intellectual property portfolio and patent licensing business, and its government affairs and philanthropic work. He also serves as Microsoft's corporate secretary and its chief compliance officer. Smith joined Microsoft in 1993. Brad Smith
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