April, 2013

  • 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.”

  • 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.

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    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.”

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    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!

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    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.


  • YouthSpark Star of the Week: We Day Backstage Reporters

    There were crowds of youth flanking all the main entrances into Key Arena. They wore matching shirts, face paint, with neon signs propped over their shoulders that read “WE are the change!” and “Spencer West we love you!”

    The energy of 15,000 young people poured into the Seattle stadium on March 27, 2013 for the first-ever US We Day, a youth event focused around social issues and community service. As a co-title sponsor, Microsoft helped bring the event to the U.S. as part of its YouthSpark initiative, which aims to create opportunities for young people around the globe.

    Three young people were nominated by their schools to experience and report on a special backstage peak of We Day. Gabrielle, Delaney, and Keilon acted as Microsoft YouthSpark Reporters and had special access to roam the arena, interview celebrities, and even speak on stage about their experience.

    They share below their first-person accounts of their We Day experiences.

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    From left to right: Gabby, We Day host Munro Chambers, Delaney and Keilon on the YouthSpark stage.

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    YouthSpark Reporters at Microsoft’s VIP suite.

    YouthSpark Reporter Gabrielle:

    “We all have the same goal of a better, safer community.”

    Each speaker and performer at We Day had a message or a cause they represented. One of the most inspiring speakers to me was Molly Burke, who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of four. She shares her story and obstacles to inspire youth to view everyone equally, whether they suffer from mental illness or physical impairment.

    For Burke, it was bullying in schools. Martin Luther King III stated that his goal was to “address issues on poverty, race, and violence.” Nine-year-old Robby Novak, the YouTube sensation known as Kid President, said that he wishes to change the world by “feeding people.” Despite Novak’s fragile bone condition (known as osteogenesis imperfect) he strives to inspire other young kids that they can change the world.

    Seeing numerous celebrities, including surprise guest Macklemore, Grammy Award winner Jennifer Hudson, and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, speak about their dedication to social change showed me that we all have the same goal of a better, safer community.

    The We Day theme is “We inspire the change.” Free The Children founder, Craig Kielburger has it exactly right: it is the youth of today that inspire the change. Initiatives such as Microsoft YouthSpark and Free The Children’s We Act program provide these unparalleled experiences for youth to get a jump start on the change they wish to see in the world.

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    Keilon at dress rehearsal at Key Arena, the day before We Day.

    YouthSpark Reporter Keilon:

    “I was humbled, to say the least.”

    My name is Keilon. I was one of three privileged young adults chosen as Microsoft YouthSpark Reporters at We Day. I was nominated by one of my teachers due to my active role in my community and neighborhood.

    At We Day, I was overwhelmed by the level of energy in the arena from the moment I stepped in. As a YouthSpark Reporter, I got to be anywhere and everywhere at the event so I didn’t miss a beat. The day was PACKED with motivational speaking, thrilling performances, and just the right amount of controlled chaos to keep the crowed excited.

    Being backstage was an amazing experience. Seeing how a production of this scale operated from the inside was mind blowing. Everything was on a schedule. Backstage was hectic, wild and frantic. And yet when it was time to be on stage everything went so smoothly, and flowed flawlessly.

    I met people who I never in my wildest dreams thought I would even see in real life. I was humbled, to say the least. Pete Carroll and Martin Luther King III were two of the most sincere, genuinely motivating people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Shaking Mr. Carroll’s hand and hearing Mr. King’s words were experiences that will stick with me forever:

    “If your passion is to be a street sweeper, you sweep streets the way Beethoven composed music. You sweep streets the way Rafael painted pictures. You sweep streets the way Muhammad Ali boxed. It’s not about what you do but how well you do it.” -Martin Luther King III

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    Delaney captures a photo of her and Gabrielle at We Day on her new Windows Phone from Microsoft YouthSpark.

    YouthSpark Reporter Delaney:

    “I knew giving up was not an option.”

    My journey to We Day started back in the fall of 2012, when an incredible organization called Free The Children made a visit to my high school. Craig Kielburger, the founder of it all, aimed to inspire us to take action to make a change for our communities and the world through social activism. To add fuel to our fiery excitement, he told us of We Day; an inspirational event bringing together youth engaged in changing the world through music and motivational speeches. His empowering words sparked a movement in my town, and the youth of the area soon took action.

    I earned my ticket to We Day by taking part in “253 Scares Hunger”, an event on Halloween where kids and teens from all across the Seattle/Tacoma area trick or treated for non-perishable food items. Over 300 youth turned out for the event and together we collected over 10,000 pounds of food in just one night. This huge undertaking directly benefited over 3,000 people in need, and it benefited us teens as well. I personally felt truly accomplished with the haul we brought in, and hearing how many people we helped acted as a driving force to work even harder to better my community.

    Not long before We Day, my advisor told me of a special opportunity to be a YouthSpark Reporter. When I found out I was selected, I was nearly shaking with excitement at the thought of meeting stars such as Jennifer Hudson and Martin Sheen. I couldn’t wait to go backstage and see the whole event inside and out. I was in awe at the list of famous celebrities that were to attend. Yet when I was finally there, I found myself the most impacted by a man I had previously never heard of: Spencer West.

    Spencer was a true inspiration to me. To raise awareness of Free The Children’s sustainable water campaign, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro - on his hands! Spencer had his legs amputated at age five due to a genetic disorder, but did that stop him? Certainly not. His story forced me to recognize that I have no good excuses. I realized that I could reach my goals no matter the obstacle; I just have to work hard and stay motivated.

    Thanks to this experience with Microsoft YouthSpark, my motivation to succeed soared even higher. Many highlights of the day helped to affirm my passion for both journalism and photography. As a YouthSpark Reporter, I was humbled to meet and interview Martin Luther King III, meet celebrities I had idolized for years like Monique Coleman and Munro Chambers, and take part in a real press conference like I had always dreamed. I kept pinching myself out of sheer disbelief.

    This experience was like no other; it was priceless. Without it, I might have given up on my passions. But after my day as a Microsoft YouthSpark reporter, I knew giving up was not an option. I learned that the road to success is always bumpy, and those who truly wish to achieve it must hold on tight.

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    To learn more about YouthSpark programs and initiatives, check out http://spr.ly/YSH to see the 30+ free programs we have for youth ages 6-24, worldwide.

  • Give Forward: Spring Matching Offer on Give for Youth

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    In many countries, education for girls is still just a dream. In Sierra Leone, all children are legally required to attend primary and secondary school. However, the shortage of schools, teachers and basic educational tools make the implementation of the law close to impossible.  An enhanced education, teaching essential computer skills and giving access to computers will broaden the horizons and prepare Sierra Leone’s youth for today’s computer-driven society. One of the micro-projects on Give for Youth will help 15 girls get access to 80 hours of computer training.

    Girls remain woefully outnumbered in African schools.  Facilities and modern learning resources are spare due to lack of funding. This project will help give adequate priority to the education of girls, giving them the computer training that will equip them for essential job-related skills. 

    A total of $480 is needed for Develop Africa, the nonprofit sponsor, to provide training for these 15 girls. If you donate today, your gift of education will be matched by Microsoft at 50 percent. Microsoft will donate 50 cents on every dollar, up to a total of $100,000, now through April 16th. Certain restrictions apply.

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    Check out the leaderboard to see all the organizations helping young people around the world that you can donate to on Give for Youth and receive a donation match from Microsoft.

  • Meet Microsoft Citizenship at the 2013 Nonprofit Technology Conference

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    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!

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    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

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