Microsoft shares social software
Inspired by the positive response to its TechDonation Initiative, Microsoft Hong Kong is opening the door wider to more local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to benefit from its innovative programme. Launched in December 2007 with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), TechDonation aims to help NGOs improve their efficiency through technology.
"Many local non-profit making organisations, particularly those of small or medium size, had limited resources in developing their IT systems. By introducing the initiative, we aimed to help them enhance the efficiency of their back-end operations, so that their frontline services would improve as a result," says Sheila Tang, corporate affairs director at Microsoft Hong Kong.
After helping some 250 groups, the software giant and HKCSS decided to expand the programme because they believe many qualified NGOs have not enrolled in it yet. "Based on research by HKCSS in 2007, there should be some 2,000 local NGOs who are eligible," Tang notes.
To expand coverage, Microsoft has eased the eligibility requirements and expanded the range of software categories covered by the donation programme.
"When we first launched the programme, any NGO registered under Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance, except for those with political and religious affiliations, were eligible," she adds. "We have broadened the range of eligible NGOs by adding three categories - medical research organisations, amateur sport associations, and private foundations."
The software categories have also been widened. Out of the more than 100 categories of software products, the enrolled NGOs can choose a maximum of 10 categories, each with 50 licences available. Originally, each NGO could only access six categories, Tang adds.
Enrolled NGOs can now also apply for the use of software within the quota wherever the needs arise within two years. In the past, they could only make applications once a year. NGOs can reapply after the licences have expired, usually after two years.
Microsoft also provides IT support to NGO personnel. "We partner up with professional trainers to organise training for the NGOs. We also offer sets of curriculum to help NGOs enhance the IT capability of their beneficiaries, such as students," Tang says.
A unique feature of TechDonation is that it does not have a cap on the amount donated and all qualified NGOs are welcome, says Dr John Fung, director of IT resource centre at HKCSS.
As a partner of TechDonation, HKCSS vets applications and promotes the programme among its member organisations, although groups outside the council can also apply, says Fung.
"HKCSS also helps provide support, including IT technical advice," he adds. "TechDonation has provided HKCSS an `entry point' to approach and encourage NGOs to enhance their overall efficiency through technology adoption which will ultimately lead to capacity building. The programme has helped enhance NGOs' knowledge management."
After joining TechDonation in 2008, the Hong Kong Arts Centre has strengthened its IT infrastructure and enhanced its exchange server, considerably improving internal communication among its 100-strong workforce in several offices, says finance and administration director Alex Wong.
Microsoft's software has also helped the centre organise its programmes more efficiently. "The Expression Studio suite of tools has facilitated the storage of hundreds of short films and videos for the Hong Kong Independent Short Film and Video Awards. The entrants had to submit CD-ROMs before we started using Expression Studio," Wong says.
Partners in tech
- TechDonation has so far benefited over 230 NGOs in Hong Kong and 20 in Macau. About HK$60m worth of Microsoft products have been donated
- Microsoft and HKCSS have promoted TechDonation through seminars and workshops, word of mouth via the beneficiaries, as well as traditional and social media, such as Facebook
- The expanded programme allows Microsoft to offer a ‘onestop shop’ tracking record function, which helps enrolled NGOs keep track of the software products they have
obtained to enhance IT resources planning