June, 2012

  • New tool puts nonprofit storytelling on the map

    Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs at Microsoft explains why Microsoft is launching the Local Impact Map for nonprofits, a new tool that provides a compelling way to share stories and impact.

    More than ever before, there is a growing need among nonprofits to effectively communicate stories of their impact on society. After all, how can nonprofits gain the support they need through volunteerism and donations without building awareness of what they can accomplish? In fact, the power and necessity of storytelling for nonprofits was a big topic at the recent Social Innovation Summit in May, which our own Akhtar Badshah attended.

    It’s why today, we’re launching the Microsoft Local Impact Map for nonprofits and for commercial organizations who wish to showcase their Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Originally developed to help showcase the impact of our Citizenship programs in more than 100 countries around the world, we’re now offering the application to nonprofits at no cost, with a monthly charge of just $15 to host the map online via Microsoft Azure. Using the built-in content management system, nonprofits can now create their own customized maps to showcase their work in local communities around the globe incorporating text, pictures and videos. The map also includes a host of social media capabilities so stories can be easily shared and promoted.

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    The Aidmatrix Foundation utilizes their Local Impact Map to highlight impactful stories of their humanitarian relief partners around the globe.

    Extending Our Commitment to Nonprofits

    Nonprofits play an incredibly important role in every community around the world. At Microsoft we’ve always recognized the importance of that work and believed that by making the latest technology accessible we can help them accomplish even more. It’s the commitment behind our software donations program, which in 2011 provided more than $844 million worth of software to more than 40,000 nonprofits around the world. The release of the Local Impact Map is another component of that commitment.

    Ahead of today’s general release we’ve been working with a number of organizations to create their own maps including the Aidmatrix and TechSoup Global.

    TechSoup, an organization that helps other nonprofits obtain and use technology to heighten their impact, has populated the map with their global touch points. The organization’s impact map has numerous stories, including how they’ve supported U.S.-based All The Children Are Children and London-based Childreach International. Technology from TechSoup helps both organizations meet the needs of children around the world, helping them to provide access to quality education and healthcare.

    Commercial CSR Storytelling

    In addition to nonprofits, we’re also making the Local Impact Map available to for-profit companies such as UnitedHealthcare, who are looking for a compelling way to share the impact of their CSR programs. As with nonprofits the Map application will be made available free of change with a $15 per month hosting fee.

    We think this is a great addition to the technology we are providing to the global nonprofit community, and it provides a great means of enabling nonprofits to gain support for their work and commitment. Our hope is that the Local Impact Map will allow nonprofits and our colleagues in the social innovation industry to seamlessly communicate their stories in a visually compelling way.

    More information:

     

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    Fun fact: The Microsoft Local Impact Map was a Webby Awards Honoree in 2012 for the Corporate Social Responsibility category.

    Of the 10,000 entries submitted to the 16th Annual Webby Awards, fewer than 15 percent were distinguished as an Official Honoree.

  • How can you help when a natural disaster strikes?

    By the Microsoft Disaster Response Team

    Following the devastation of a natural disaster, one of the first questions people ask is how can I help? The challenge is most response organizations require pre-training for disaster relief volunteers so many are unable to provide volunteer assistance during this critical response period. This happens for two main reasons. First, there are safety concerns with placing untrained volunteers in a response environment. And secondly, time and resources are limited during a disaster so response organizations need to focus all of their efforts on relief services rather than training new volunteers.

    If you are interested in volunteering your skills and your time, the key is to proactively reach out to volunteer organizations before disasters occur. With hurricane season officially underway, now is a great time to engage.

    Use your skills

    When a disaster occurs there’s a great demand for a wide range of skills.  For example, if you have technical expertise in areas like programming, information management and data input, communication technology, and project management, then there will be organizations looking for those skills.

    · For example, Random Hacks of Kindness is a volunteer community of technology innovators that develop open source solutions to social issues. One of the community’s primary focus areas is designing and building tools that help in disasters. These solutions are developed by volunteers during hack-a-thon events around the world. For more information on upcoming events and how to get involved visit: www.rhok.org/.

    · Crisis Commons is another volunteer community that harnesses the power of technology for good through what it calls CrisisCamps. These events connect a global network of volunteers to develop technology tools for crisis management and response. The first step to volunteering with Crisis Commons is to complete a volunteer sign up form and the organization will match you with an opportunity in your local community or contact you when a crisis occurs.

    Help a local non-profit organization.

    Before, during and after disasters, response organizations rely on volunteers for everything from health care to logistics coordination, to technology support,rebuilding and construction efforts.

    · If you are interested in helping, start by checking with your employer. Many corporations have existing volunteer partnerships with local non-profit organizations and this connection could offer a quick way to plug in. For example, the American Red Cross has a corporate volunteer program called Ready When the Time Comes. Volunteers from partnering companies complete a six-hour training program and are ready to mobilize in the event of a disaster. The American Red Cross also organizes Disaster Action Volunteer Teams made up of client caseworkers, disaster health specialists and public information officers to provide assistance to those impacted in the local community. Pre-training is required and offered for free. Volunteer opportunities and requirements vary so reach out to the American Red Cross in your region for complete information.

    · For people who enjoy doing projects with their hands, Habitat for Humanity is another option to consider. In addition to the organization’s construction and rebuilding projects, it also has a volunteer program called Disaster Corps that focuses specifically on disaster response and preparedness in the United States. These volunteers help with a range of activities including preparedness planning, post disaster assessment, and logistics.

    · Many non-profit organizations, like United Way and Salvation Army, encourage prospective volunteers to search opportunities on www.allforgood.org and www.volunteermatch.com. Both of these tools can search by location, skills set and areas of interest to help you find the right fit.

    Check back here for additional posts from the Microsoft Disaster Response Team.  For more information on the Microsoft’s Disaster Response program visit our website.

  • Microsoft Office 365 for education–now available

    Today we’ve announced that Office 365 for education, which provides Office Web Apps, Exchange Online (for email and scheduling), SharePoint Online (for collaboration) and Lync Online (for communications) is available for schools at not cost.

    Here’s more From Anthony Salcito’s blog:

    “As schools face ever-tightening budgets and the pressure to innovate, Microsoft is offering enterprise quality technology for free that will modernize teaching practices and help prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.

    Office 365 for education builds off of the great platform we've established with Live@edu and is the next evolution to provide a better experience for communication, collaboration, and productivity tools for education institutions of all types…while saving costs and delivering a great connected experience for students and educators. With Office 365, schools get Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Office Web Apps at no cost. You can sign up today at www.office365.com/education.”

    Find out more about Office 365 for Education here and here.

    There’s a great video here on how the University of Massachusetts is using Office 365 for education.

  • Easter Seals Nebraska Moves People and Information with Microsoft MapPoint

    For more than 80 years, Easter Seals Nebraska has helped individuals with disabilities and special needs improve their physical mobility, return to work, or simply gain greater independence for everyday living. Ensuring the success of its numerous programs requires significant ongoing coordination and communication.

    The organization recently adopted Microsoft MapPoint to help operate its new transportation service line, Nebraska Mobility, and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.

    MapPoint, which Jamie Chambers, mobility administrator, calls the “backbone” of Easter Seal’s mobility project, has enabled the organization to revolutionize transportation services throughout Nebraska, by planning smarter, more direct routes that save time and money for riders, medical offices, and community and senior centers.

    “We currently work with over 1,000 private and over 116 public transportation providers to help make their routes more efficient as well as more affordable to the people who need them most,” says Chambers.

    Before launching Nebraska Mobility, there was a lot of unnecessary overlap and duplication of efforts. For example, nearby senior centers were picking up neighbors with three separate buses — all around the same time. Now, thanks to MapPoint, one bus is scheduled to service an entire neighborhood.

    “Trip tickets are created based on where and when people are traveling, and the information is exported in the form of turn-by-turn directions to drivers to form a full day’s service route,” explains Chambers. Riders pay just 50 cents a ride (the costs are subsidized by grants) for door-to-door transportation from their homes to work, school or a local community organization.

    “We’ve become an important public resource,” says Chambers. “Now individuals with disabilities who cannot drive or use regular public transit can make one call and know they will get a ride wherever they need to go.”

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    An Easter Seals transportation volunteer and client.

    Easter Seals Nebraska also benefitted from Microsoft upgrades that spanned beyond transportation. As seamlessly as their programs functioned on the outside, numerous technology challenges lurked within the rapidly growing organization.

    “Half of our office is on Macs and the other half is on PCs,” explains Chambers. It was not uncommon for a staff member to send a file to someone other than its intended recipient so it could be converted and sent back or printed out. “We couldn’t easily find, print, share or sometimes even open files,” says Chambers. “It was more than a mess — it was a showstopper.”

    To complicate matters, Easter Seals Nebraska had two operating systems and three incompatible servers, and a quickly growing staff, which had doubled in size in just six months, with six remote employees.

    In March 2011, a new Microsoft server and the latest version of Office for both Macs and PCs, acquired through the TechSoup Donation Program, brought all staff members onto the same page.

    “These donations have increased cooperation between staff, streamlined internal technology training, and provided more efficient and reliable transportation services to individuals with disabilities, seniors, and the underemployed,” says Chambers.

    Now instead of spending an entire afternoon figuring out how to open or share a file, or troubleshooting some other tech-related problem, Easter Seals employees can focus on increasing their impact. Chambers adds, “Since we are so closely constrained by time and money, this means being able to help more people in our community.”

    Whether it’s moving people or important information, Easter Seals Nebraska relies on Microsoft technology to deliver a win-win for their employees, clients, and transportation providers.

  • Fast Five Features for NGOs: Powerful presentations start here

    Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 gives you more ways to create and share dynamic presentations. New audio and visual capabilities help tell a crisp, cinematic story that’s as easy to create as it is powerful to watch.

    Here is this week’s Fast Five Features for NGOs for creating powerful multi-media presentations using PowerPoint 2010:

    Bring more energy and visual impact to your presentations.

    With PowerPoint 2010, you can apply sophisticated photo effects without needing additional photo-editing software. Transform your images into compelling, vibrant visuals by using new and improved picture editing features such as:

    · color saturation and temperature,

    · brightness and contrast,

    · advanced cropping tool,

    · blur,

    · paintbrush,

    · and watercolor.

    PowerPoint 2010 Photo Editing

    Add a personalized video experience.

    Embed and edit video files directly in PowerPoint 2010. You can easily trim your video to show only relevant sections, or bookmark key points in a video for quick access. Set the video to fade in and out at specified intervals and apply a variety of video styles and effects—such as reflections, bevels, and 3-D rotation—to help you quickly capture your audience’s attention.

    PowerPoint 2010 Video Editing

    Create high-quality presentations with stunning graphics.

    You don’t have to be a design expert to create professional-looking graphics. Use dozens of additional SmartArt® layouts to create many types of graphics such as organization charts, lists, and picture diagrams. Use impressive visuals that illustrate your ideas. Create diagrams as easily as typing a bulleted list or convert text and images to a diagram in just a few clicks.

    Captivate your audience with new transitions and improved animations.

    New slide transitions and animation effects look similar to graphics you’d see on TV. Easily access, preview, apply, customize, and replace animations. You can also use the new Animation Painter to easily copy animations from one object to another.

    Get things done faster.

    PowerPoint 2010 simplifies how you access features. The new Microsoft Office Backstage™ view replaces the traditional file menu to let you save, share, print, and publish your presentations with just a few clicks. And, with the improved Ribbon, you can access your favorite commands even more quickly by customizing tabs or creating your own to personalize the experience to your work style.

    Do you know an organization that could benefit from a donation of PowerPoint? Point them here to get more information on getting a software donation from Microsoft.

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