April, 2013

  • And The Windows 8 Apps for Social Good Winners Are…

    In November we launched the Windows 8 Apps for Social Good contest. You voted for your favorite app, and our judges voted for theirs. It was great to see the variety of social good apps submitted to the contest – nutrition, health care, emergency response, and more. The judges had a hard time selecting the winners because of the quality and usefulness of the apps.

    You can find the winning apps and all the other fantastic entries in the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 stores or on the contest page.

    Without further ado, here are the winners:

    The People’s Choice award winner is a Windows 8 app, YumvY, a cooking companion to help you prepare nutritious, healthy meals at home with the goal of addressing the obesity epidemic and related diseases like diabetes. Sari Louis from Reston, Virginia started coding at age six when his parents bought his older brother an Atari computer that came with a programming book for GW-Basic, and is passionate about using technology to improve health.

    “Cooking at home is one of the sure ways to eat healthy and fight the growing health epidemic facing us today,” says Sari. “The reason I entered the contest is to let people know that cooking can be easy and fast…and fun on top of that.” With the $10,000 prize, he plans to include nutritional information to accompany the recipes so people can make more informed choices about what to cook.


    The judge-selected winner in the Windows 8 app category is Eatfindr, a simple way to locate healthy restaurants while also allowing you to filter based on dietary requirements such as allergies. Cameron Preston, Ludo Antonov, and Hayder Casey worked tirelessly on the app after Cameron heard about the contest from friends. A team of great innovators, all have appreciated putting their development skills toward the greater purpose of social good.

    Cameron says, “I get the most out of meshing my tech skills with my passion for better food systems.” He’ll use his $15,000 prize to build the app into a more social and educational user experience, expand to different platforms, and market to reach more users and gain more reviews.



    Health Center was the judge-selected Windows Phone 8 app winner. It lets you look up your medications and find them at a reduced cost. Lance Siedman from Las Vegas started programming at age 13 on a Windows 98. He credits his parents’ gift of Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 for teaching him to build apps on the Windows platform. One project close to his heart was using the Microsoft Speech SDK to develop speech commands that enable his autistic brother to use a computer without anxiety.

    Lance shares inspiration for other app developers thinking about doing social good: “If just one person could benefit, isn’t that what making apps and this contest is all about? If you have the capability to make a change or offer someone something, do it.” He plans to use his $15,000 prize to connect the app to a wearable device to provide medication reminders, potential interaction risks, and alerts for when to refill prescriptions.

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    Visit the contest page to see all of the great apps that were created for social good. Download them, use them, and share them with your friends.

  • Meet Microsoft Citizenship at the 2013 Nonprofit Technology Conference


    As an annual sponsor of the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), we believe it’s important to be an active, contributing member of the nonprofit technology community. Nonprofits provide an incredible service in addressing America’s most pressing social problems, while being an underserved industry in technology capacity and resources. We try to bridge the technology needs of the nonprofit sector with our software donation program, of which we donate on average $1 million in software a day, as well as with long-standing relationships with great nonprofit tech orgs like NTEN, host of the NTC.

    So we’ll be at NTC13 – come and meet us!

    Check out the Microsoft session: April 11 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

    Because cloud technology use is becoming more prevalent within nonprofit organizations, we’re leading a demo session on Office 365. You’ll get the chance to hear from several nonprofits who are using Office 365 on why they chose that solution, the benefits & challenges, and what migrating to Office 365 was really like. Very informative for any nonprofit thinking about productivity cloud solutions!


    Come visit us at our booth!

    Look out for us at the Science Fair -- we’ll have a booth where attendees will can get hands-on with Microsoft technology, get information about our software donations program, and of course spend some quality time playing with an Xbox and Kinect. We’ll have a number of goodies and giveaways so be sure to stop by and say hello.

    It’s party time…

    And lastly, we’re once again hosting an evening reception on Saturday night (April 13th) of the conference. There will be food, drinks, Xbox gaming, and more. Don’t miss it!

    Our attendees:

    We’re sending an enthusiastic team to NTC. You can meet them at the Microsoft booth and the Friday reception. See below what they had to say about the Minneapolis conference and be sure to “tweet” a hello:

    gretchendeo "I’m looking forward to meeting with attendees and hearing about new ideas around technology solutions that can further nonprofit impact."

    Gretchen Deo, Microsoft Program Manager

    shannon doolittle "Nothing beats the atmosphere at NTC. It's not a conference but a confluence of amazing people and extraordinary ideas. Hand downs, it's the place to be if you want to learn the best tips and tricks for using technology to advance social good."

    Shanon Doolittle, Group Health Foundation Fundraising and Donor Relations Strategist

    James_Rooney “The best part about NTC for me are the spontaneous, unplanned interactions that happen during the evening receptions, dinners, and breaks. I’m always amazed and impressed by what other folks are up to and love discovering new opportunities to partner and collaborate.”

    James Rooney, Microsoft Program Manager

    ElisaWillman I’m excited to attend my first NTC. I’m looking forward to making connections with the nonprofits who use our technology to advance their missions and also gaining insight into the opportunities and challenges they see in the sector. Given my role in Marketing, I’m particularly interested in some of the Communications break-out sessions.”

    Elisa Willman, Microsoft Senior Marketing Communications Manager

  • 13NTC Cloudy with a Chance of Awesome

    By: Elisa Willman, Senior Marketing Communications Manager in Microsoft Citizenship

    This week I attended the Nonprofit Technology Conference, otherwise known as #13NTC to all the nonprofit techies. Microsoft has sponsored NTEN and NTC from the beginning, but this was my first opportunity to join this group of nonprofit professionals from around the world who are passionate about using technology to advance their missions and bring about change.


    Microsoft Program Manager James Rooney with the 13NTC accordion player.

    There were many valuable sessions, inspiring speakers and learning opportunities, but I’ve summarized my top five takeaways from the conference below:

    1. Nonprofits rock. There are a lot of amazing organizations using Microsoft technology to do incredible work for the communities they serve. I loved getting to meet so many of them during the five hour Science Fair/Expo. It was gratifying to hear stories of how our products have helped organizations do more to fulfill their missions. Of course, it was also interesting to hear how many organizations were functioning on, shall we say, “less than current” systems. It takes ingenuity to work within the constraints some of these organizations are dealing with. So inspiring!

    2. Software donations. It was surprising to me how many organizations hadn’t heard about Microsoft’s software donation program. I felt a little bit like Santa getting to share the news! While our program reaches more than 60,000 nonprofits around the world each year, there are thousands more who qualify and may not know it. If you know a nonprofit that would benefit from a software donation from Microsoft, send them to www.microsoft.com/nonprofit.

    3. Dan Pallotta. Many of you have probably already seen his Ted Talk, where he said: “the way we think about charity is dead wrong.” Dan delivered a similar presentation to a packed room of 1000+ nonprofit professionals and had Twitter abuzz with fans (I’m one of them!) and critics who mostly pointed to thisRootwork post. As a former nonprofit executive director who was often frustrated with many of the issues Dan addressed, his speech really resonated with me. I loved the “I’m overhead” mock ad campaign he presented in making the argument that donors and funders should consider the limitations of overhead to services ratio that makes an organization “fiscally responsible.”


    It’s down to standing room in the packed Dan Pallotta session.

    4. Cloudy with a chance of awesome. Working at Microsoft, we talk a lot about the cloud. So, it was good to see that the cloud was also top of mind for many at the conference. And, when I say top of mind, I mean there were even people wearing really large cloud shaped hats. Though I’m admittedly biased, one of my favorite sessions was “Office 365: Cloudy with a chance for awesome.” My colleague James Rooney, together with Sam Chenkin, Melanie Meyer and Tom Moen delivered a really compelling presentation. The demos were cool, but the best part was hearing from Melanie Meyer from BVU: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence in Ohio. Her real-life IT director’s worst nightmare story (servers down for 3 days) that prompted her organization to move to Office 365, is one I’ll always remember.

    5. Minneapolis is so cool. I’m not just talking about the weather (though we did have snow, sleet and freezing rain during the conference). The people are friendly and the city is very walkable with a series of SkyBridges that connect the downtown area. There are excellent restaurants and bars and, of course, there is the Mall of America!


    Microsoft 13NTC team – Gretchen Deo, James Rooney, and me – at the Microsoft store at the Mall of America.

    If you attended NTC, I’d love to hear your highlights, too. Leave your top five highlights in the comments section or tweet us at @msftcitizenship or me @elisamwill.

  • 2013 United Way Spirit of America and Summit Awards

    Congratulations to science and technology company 3M for winning the 2013 United Way Spirit of America® award for philanthropy, volunteer engagement and community impact!

    Microsoft also received two Summit awards from United Way for our community impact and volunteer engagement. The awards program recognizes outstanding United Way Global Corporate Leaders.

    “At Microsoft we really do believe that our strongest asset is our people. We are deeply honored to receive two United Way ‘Spirit of America’ awards which highlight the real impact of our employees in the local communities in which they live and work.”

    -Lori Harnick, General Manager, Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft

    Read the full press release on United Way's site.

  • 75 Years of Saving Babies

    It was 1938 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the March of Dimes to combat childhood polio. Today, the nonprofit organization works to improve the health of mothers and babies, and bring awareness to prenatal issues like premature birth. Last night the organization celebrated 75 years of saving babies.

    To support the work of March of Dimes, we granted a $7.5 million software donation. In thanks, we received this note from Alan Kauffman, Chief Information Officer. Read on to learn more about the March of Dimes:

    “I’m thrilled about a huge donation my organization recently received from Microsoft. The total value of this donation is more than $7.5 million and helps in so many ways. Every one of our offices in more than 200 communities around the country will be better equipped to reach out to the people who need our services; to engage the dedicated volunteers who raise awareness of our mission and raise money to support it; and to represent the needs of babies at the local, state and federal level. It provides an incredible boost to a nationwide effort to improve the way our organization works while we improve the health of babies in the U.S. and around the world. And, by the way, this is not the first time we’ve had help from Microsoft — twice before as we have updated our technology, Microsoft has supported us.

    The donation includes licenses for every Microsoft product we need in our work. These range from software that March of Dimes employees use every day to tools that help us collaborate with our partners and volunteers, and licenses for our central servers that will allow us to operate more efficiently and cost effectively.

    Gourmet Gala Birds Eye View

    The Gourmet Gala hosted by the March of Dimes on April 2013 to celebrate 75 years.

    Really exciting for the IT group here is that licenses for System Center were included to help us manage and consolidate resources in our data centers to save money now and facilitate our use of cloud resources in the future. It’s so important that we maintain and improve our online capabilities. If you want to really understand what we do now with those capabilities, and imagine what we can do in the future, check out marchofdimes.com, nacersano.org and marchforbabies.org. Moms-to-be can find all the information they need to have a healthy pregnancy on our websites, and after their baby is born, we offer practical advice on newborn care, breastfeeding and so much more — including ways to stay connected to the March of Dimes through special events around the country. If something goes wrong, and a baby needs specialized treatment in newborn intensive care, we created shareyourstory.org for families who want to connect with others who understand the challenges of the NICU.

    March of Dimes share your story

    Shareyourstory.org is a resource for families with newborn babies in need of specialized treatment in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU).

    We’re proud to offer comfort and information to families in crisis as well as up-to-date resources for our volunteers and staff, and we are extremely grateful for this donation and Microsoft’s generosity over the years.

    I can’t think of anything more important than making sure babies are born healthy. Watch some of these videos and see if you don’t agree.”

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