Microsoft is a software products and service company. Its global turnover is $51 Bn. In Ireland, it employs 1,200 full-time staff and 700 vendor staff.
Charitable and non-profit organisations in Ireland, with a few notable exceptions, struggle to take advantage of the benefits of Information Technology. There are three issues: access to software, access to computer hardware and access to skills. Solving these issues will help NGOs to increase the breadth of services and support available to the most vulnerable in our society.
Microsoft’s approach is based on three pillars: • Technology Donations Programme – we are working with Enclude (www.encludeit.org) an Irish charity, Symantec and Cisco to operate a programme whereby over 5,000 non-profit and charitable organizations across Ireland can avail of technology donations from Microsoft, Symantec and Cisco. These donations include the latest versions of Microsoft’s desktop and server products from Windows Vista and 2007 Office to Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint.
• The Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher (MAR) programme (www.microsoft.com/communitymar) is designed to increase the number of low-cost computers available to charities and schools, while also keeping serviceable computers out of landfills. It encourages companies to think of donating unused or end-of-life computer equipment which can then be serviced, re-conditioned and installed with new software. These computers can then be donated to a charity or school who might not otherwise be able to afford technology.
• The Digital Literacy Curriculum (www.microsoft.com/digitalliteracy) is designed to address one of the major issues facing non-profits which is the lack of knowledge about how to use technology. The goal of the curriculum is to teach and assess basic computer concepts and skills so that people can use computer technology in everyday life to develop new social and economic opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities. It is available as a free download.
Microsoft’s corporate vision is to enable people and organisations to realize their full potential. This vision, through our Unlimited Potential programme has a clear focus on helping charities and non-profits to take advantage of the benefits of technology to deliver broader services to the most vulnerable people and groups in our society.
Peter Scallan, CEO at Barretstown Gang Camp said: “This year over 1,500 seriously ill children and their families have taken part in our programme, which is recognised by the medical community as an important part of a child’s recovery from serious illness. This generous donation of equipment will enable us to help many more children in the years to come”.
The biggest challenge facing these programmes is increasing awareness. We need to ensure that all qualifying non-profits know about these programmes and we need to encourage companies to think about re-using the PC hardware when it is no longer required. We are working hard to raise awareness of the programmes among our customers, partners and competitors and through other third parties.
Effective community programmes require as many commercial and non-profit partners as possible to extend reach and impact.
Orla Hogan, Citizenship Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org