Youth & Opportunity
Engineering , Math
Guest Post by TechSoup Global Co-CEO Rebecca Masisak
Group photo from the 2009 TechSoup Partner Summit
Tomorrow, TechSoup Global will convene its partners from around the world on Microsoft’s campus in Silicon Valley. More than 200 people who have contributed to moving TechSoup Global’s mission forward -- foundations, corporations, organizers, and NGOs -- will create new opportunities to leverage this powerful community to create far-reaching change. To date, the impact of our global network has been profound – through the generosity of our corporate donors our efforts have resulted in more than $2 billion in IT savings to the nonprofit sector worldwide. After 24 years serving the sector, TechSoup Global has become a leading social enterprise operating sustainably, at significant scale.
How did we get here? Back in 2005, when our partners at Microsoft, Akhtar Badshah and Jane Meseck, started talking to me about expanding TechSoup Global’s product philanthropy program internationally, it was clear that Microsoft envisioned two things: to build a worldwide donation program that could be used by many technology donors, not just by Microsoft; and to build local capacity and relevance.
It wasn’t enough, we agreed, to fly in and donate software and fly out again. We had to build locally relevant, locally sustainable resources. NGOs and libraries needed to learn from one another about how to incorporate technology into their work.
This resonated with the conversations we were also having with Cisco. Both of these technology leaders were committed not only to expanding their own product philanthropy but also to supporting a global platform that delivered donations from a broad range of corporate donors.
Microsoft and Cisco's foresight helped us design an expansion strategy that relied on partnering with independent NGOs. These partners would collect an administrative fee for verifying the eligibility of recipients and distributing the donations. This administrative fee would create a critical revenue stream and allow the program to support itself and be reinvested in building localized NGO technology.
Today, our network consists of 35 partner NGOs serving 36 countries, a global reach that would not have been possible without Microsoft’s commitment. Microsoft provided the necessary philanthropic leadership, cash grants and technical support to get us where we are today. When we gather in Silicon Valley this week, the question will not be how do we get technology knowledge and resources in to the field? But, what now? Our topics will range from cloud computing to disaster relief, from assistive technologies to translation. You can follow the conversation to using the hashtag #TSG2011, and twitter handles @msftcitizenship, and @techsoup . Akhtar, Jane and I will all be there, exploring the opportunities for a connected civil society and benefiting from the perspectives and guidance of a group of amazing people working to change the world.
Rebecca Masisak, Co-CEO, TechSoup Global Rebecca Masisak joined TechSoup Global in 2001 to launch and chart the growth of TechSoup Global's technology product donation program and social enterprise. After successfully establishing the program in North America (http://www.techsoup.org/stock), Ms. Masisak developed an international expansion model, which today serves an international NGO audience in 33 countries. Under Ms. Masisak’s leadership, TechSoup Global has distributed nearly 6.3 million software and hardware product donations, and enabled recipients to save more than US$1.8 billion for direct services. As co-CEO, Ms. Masisak has been instrumental in building TechSoup Global’s capacity and reach to support the entire portfolio of TechSoup Global’s programs for bringing products, information, human capacity, and resources to the communities who need them most.
Ms. Masisak speaks about social enterprise and global networks and was awarded the Full Circle Fund’s prestigious Full Impact Award in Technology. She is a member of the Social Enterprise Institute’s San Francisco Forum for Social Enterprise leaders, and she volunteers for the nonprofit organization S.A.G.E. (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship). Ms. Masisak holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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Back in 2008, When Bill Lalor stepped through the doors of YWCA of Seattle, King, and Snohomish County to take on the role of IT Director, he quickly saw the amazing work being done to help women of all ages, races, and faiths to improve their lives and the lives of their families.
The YWCA's mission is to advance the quality of life for women and their families. In support of this mission, the YWCA provides services to meet critical needs, promote self-sufficiency, reduce violence, eliminate racism and achieve equal opportunities for all people.
What Bill also saw was an immediate need to implement up to date technologies to help restructure the ways in which YWCA employees accomplished many of their daily tasks.
Upon Bill's arrival three years ago, the YWCA consisted of 32 locations over two counties in the state of Washington. While there was no lack of commitment or hard work being put in by YWCA employees, there was a distinct lack of information sharing and collaboration between the locations, and opportunities to learn from each other were being missed. Bill blames a severe lack of up-to-date technology for their early woes; "We were using Office XP, some were using Windows 95, which was great, but not in 2008..." Bill explained "a lot of the work was in essence being done manually and sometimes duplicated from lack of coordination abilities."
Bill knew that the set up led to isolation and the lack of collaborative technology resulted in many wasted man-hours and a lot of inefficiency.
Inspired by their mission and the opportunity to improve the lives of more women by increasing efficiency within their own walls, Bill and YWCA crafted a plan to build a collaborative environment facilitated by up to date technology.
"After we brought all the locations into the Active Directory network, we implemented an intranet using Windows SharePoint Services. The ability to bring all our locations into a centralized system for information, document sharing, and collaborative tools has revolutionized this organization. We've converted approximately 50% of our paper forms to InfoPath "smart" forms, and through the use of SharePoint, InfoPath and VBA, we've automated many processes. No longer do we have the disparate "islands" in our agency."
YWCA has since updated to SharePoint 2010, and Bill believes that the implementation of SharePoint as a collaboration tool, has made a large impact on the organization. The YWCA fund development department has utilized SharePoint to track their grants, where in the past each location would pursue grants with no coordination of efforts. In many cases this resulted in two YWCA offices going after the same grant, competing against each other. Now this information is shared on the intranet and conflicts are avoided. With SharePoint 2010, they have begun to build dashboards and for the first time YWCA Senior Management is able to get a snapshot-view of the operations of their departments for everything from managing the budgets, to client demographics, to donor information.
As Bill observed: "For us to provide the greatest service to our clients and our community, especially in these tough economic times, our internal practices must be as efficient as possible. Every minute wasted looking for a file, every minute spent recreating a file, document or process which has already been created by another staff member, every time a staff member is unaware of critical information to do their job is all time wasted from the service of our clients."
Using Microsoft technology as a tool, YWCA staff has been able to share, support, and learn from each other in efforts to provide better service to YWCA clients. To change lives, it is critical to be able to collaborate with peers, share good ideas, and standardize approaches.
This is a great example of how Microsoft's nonprofit software donations are helping organizations serve others in the local community. If you know of a nonprofit that could use a Microsoft software donation, please send them to our donations page to learn more.
For more information on the YWCA of Seattle, King, and Snohomish County please visit their website.
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Last Friday we had the pleasure of announcing Seattle Works as one of three worthy winners of the Tech for Good Contest sponsored by Microsoft and TechSoup. With so many great entries, it was hard to pick just three winners, but Seattle Works rose to the top for their innovative use of the cloud as a way to reduce expenses and rethink collaboration during tough economic times.
Two years ago, Seattle Works – like many nonprofits – was faced with sobering reductions in corporate and individual giving. With an eye on surviving a sustained economic downturn, the organization decided to turn to one of their guiding principles – innovation – to ensure they were positioned to not only survive, but to emerge more agile and flexible than before.
Seattle Works took stock of their expenses to see where they could make cuts to get ahead of the new economic reality. They quickly realized their physical office space was a substantial monthly drain when they considered the total cost of rent, parking, servers, storage, phone systems, and more. Embracing their innovative core value, they decided to take a leap – to the cloud! They traded their more traditional office space for a smaller, more flexible workspace, and added “virtual workspace” by implementing Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite. “BPOS,” as it is commonly referred to, includes Microsoft Exchange Online for email and calendaring; Microsoft SharePoint Online for web-based collaboration portals and document sharing; Microsoft Office Communications Online for instant messaging and peer-to-peer audio calls; and Office Live Meeting for web and video conferencing.
Having these tools at their disposal, but not having to host and maintain them on their own servers meant Seattle Works was able to define a new way of working. Now, Seattle Works staff still collaborates, shares files, meets and chats, but instead of commuting to the office every day, they have a flexible workspace. In their words, “We shifted our notion of what a workspace looked and felt like… When all was said and done, the net difference was almost $20,000, which – for a small nonprofit like Seattle Works – is a considerable cost savings!”
“Microsoft BPOS has enabled our team to work from anywhere in the world – literally! We have sent weekly emails from Washington DC, from 10,000 feet in the air, and even from Egypt!” said Bevin Wong, Communications and Development Coordinator for Seattle Works. “Staff can go from an in-person meeting with a community partner in the U-District, to a staff meeting via Microsoft Live Meeting at a coffee shop across the street, to a training on the other side of town all without skipping a beat. No snow storm, car troubles or anything short of a real apocalypse can stop Seattle Works from connecting volunteers, developing emerging leaders and inspiring dialogue.”
Further, Seattle Works has also been able to use SharePoint Online to engage their board and give them a dedicated space to collaborate and share files. “Our board is comprised of smart, talented and very busy individuals,” said Bevin. “The time that they spend on behalf of Seattle Works is time we want to maximize and use wisely.” Giving them their own space to collaborate on SharePoint helps them access what they need without rifling through old email attachments, freeing board members up to focus their time and talents where it can help Seattle Works most.
You might say that Seattle Works has performed magic with the help of the cloud. Despite shrinking their physical office space and their expenses, the organization has grown its number of volunteers, volunteer hours, and its programs in the last year. They are truly an inspiring example of how technology can help nonprofit organizations do more with less. Congratulations to Seattle Works on their Tech for Good Award, but most importantly for tapping their innovative spirit and the potential of technology to engage volunteers and inspire new leaders in our community!
You may not be ready to downsize your office space, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t benefit from the cloud. To learn more about how the cloud could help your organization, attend our free webinar on February 23rd, “To the Cloud: What it is and why it matters to nonprofits and public libraries,” or visit www.microsoft.com/cloud. Also, Make sure you are taking advantage of the technology resources available to you for little to no cost by visiting our technology donations page.
Learn more and get involved with Seattle Works at www.seattleworks.org!
Did you miss yesterday’s Tech for Good Contest post? See how Densho used technology to preserve history.
To see all the entries in our Tech for Good Contest, visit www.showyourimpact.org/microsoft.
Last Friday when Pamela Passman announced Seattle-based
nonprofit, Densho, as a winner of the Technology for Good contest sponsored by Microsoft and TechSoup, she did so to a
packed house of local nonprofits who were eager to both share and learn about the
impact of technology on the "business" of social good.
As the applause subsided and the tweets flowed,
you could see the excitement beaming from the face of Densho's Executive
Director, Tom Ikeda.
A former Microsoft employee, Tom Ikeda has dedicated his
life to building a permanent digital memory to teach the story of Japanese
Americans who were incarcerated during World War II. During World War II,
120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds American citizens, were removed from
their homes on the West Coast and incarcerated in ten detention facilities
located in desolate inland spots in the United States. These men, women, and
children were guilty of no crime, but were imprisoned behind barbed wires
because of their ancestry. Densho's goals are to video-record oral history
interviews of camp survivors, preserve and organize these stories for future
generations, and widely share these stories across the country (and the world)
to bring attention to this important yet largely forgotten chapter in American
Tom Ikeda interviews Fred Hoshiyama to include his story in the Densho
Choosing not to have a physical museum in order to keep its
costs low, Densho immediately recognized
the need to utilize technology for storing and organizing massive amounts of
digital data. To do this, Densho used a wide range of Microsoft Office solutions
to plan projects, produce interviews, and process the interviews. They used SQL Server to organize the
interviews, and ASP.NET and Visual Studio made it possible for them to display
materials on the web.
(Video)Microsoft Citizenship's Nathan J. Peterson got a
chance to chat with Tom Ikeda directly after receiving the award for Densho.
Tom Ikeda explained, "The ability of SQL Server to organize
our primary source materials was the foundation of our content strategy. SQL
Server organized meta data and kept track of tens of thousands of objects. When
the Japanese-American community wanted more stories preserved, the database
allowed easy expansion. When teachers wanted access to these materials, we used
ASP.NET and Visual Studio to create user friendly websites."
The result? Over 450 interviews, and 10,800 photos and
documents on its website, sharing to over 150,000 website visitors from all 50
states and 123 countries; "Our website usage grows every year" Tom explained, "By
using Microsoft products we've created an innovative system of collecting and
sharing historical materials that are recognized and appreciated by both
individuals and institutions."
In 2010, C-SPAN searched Densho's website and is now broadcasting dozens of
full interviews from its network and website. At a time when heritage
organizations face funding cuts, Densho's funding grows 20% annually. Densho's
efforts have effectively preserved an important piece of American history. We
believe their work with technology can inspire nonprofits around the world to
explore what technology can do to enhance your story, your effort, and your
mission of social good. It's one of the reasons we donate our software to
nonprofits everywhere. Make sure you are
taking advantage of the technology resources available to you for little to no
cost by visiting our technology
For more information about Densho, visit: www.densho.org
To see all Tech for Good contest submissions, visit
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RSS for the Unlimited
Every year the internet is growing as a common element in the daily lives of more families around the world. Children are beginning to use the internet at a younger age for many reasons such as social networking, school, and gaming. This growing trend has created welcome discussion amongst adults who understand the potential risks of leaving decisions on online privacy and safety in the hands of minors who may not understand the implications of these issues. This raises the question of how do you keep your family safe online?
What better time to explore this question then on the international Safer Internet Day (SID)? SID is an annual event dedicated to promoting responsible use of the internet and mobile technology, particularly among children and youth. Organized each year by Brussels-based Insafe and co-founded by the European Union, February 8, 2011, marks the eighth SID. This year’s theme focuses on “our virtual lives” under the banner, “It’s more than a game, it’s your life.”
This year we are embracing the online-gaming theme in the U.S. Microsoft-commissioned a survey of American parents of online gamers which shows that parents and children spend a significant amount of time playing online games together.
· On average, parents and their children play nearly 1.5 hours per day;
· More than 80% of parents play with their children at least once a week, and
· More than half of parents’ gaming hours are spent playing with their children.
To add a bit of fun to helping people learn about online safety , we are teaming with our partners at local Boys and Girls Clubs to sponsor a series of "Family ‘Online’ Game Nights", featuring Kinect® for XBOX® 360. The events will be held in three cities: Atlanta (February 8), Chicago (February 10), and Los Angeles (February 15). Staff, kids, parents and caregivers will have the opportunity to play games, learn how to engage in game-play more safely, and pick up educational materials about personal and family online safety. Microsoft has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for more than 10 years to help give kids the technology skills they need to succeed in school and life, and we are proud to collaborate with them to provide the tools they need to be safe while online!
For more on gaming safety:
· Visit: www.GetGameSmart.com to learn more about safer online gaming for you and your family
· View or download Microsoft’s safer online gaming brochure
Want to join the conversation and learn more about online safety for your family? Here are some resources:
· Check out Microsoft Citizenship’s Privacy and Security page
· Visit www.microsoft.com/protect for general online safety advice and guidance
· Follow www.twitter.com/Safer_Online on Twitter
· Discuss your opinions on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SaferOnline
· Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to help protect individuals online are detailed in a new white paper, “Personal Online Safety in the Cloud
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