BarCamp ASEAN : Top NGO Priorities

The TechSoup team participated in the BarCamp ASEAN Conference 2017 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for an annual gathering of local tech companies, large business, small enterprises, government offices, nonprofits, and students. A two-day coming together of different sectors and groups, all in the purpose of finding ways to collaborate and open opportunities for Cambodia’s promising youth.

As part of the BarCamp conference, our team hosted a breakout session for a diverse group of attendees including over 50 unique NGOs along with representatives from local businesses and the academe.

Despite the diversity of the crowd, the needs mapping activity that we conducted during the session revealed a singular priority shared across the room – a need to improve communications, be it to better promote nonprofits’ services and advocacy, or to help engage potential partners and donors. The need for improving communications, either for fundraising or partnership purposes, is in fact echoed throughout the larger Southeast Asian region.

Through an informal survey1 that we conducted February 2017, nonprofits in neighboring countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam all reported ‘Digital Marketing’ topics within their top 5 priorities for training needs2. In addition, nonprofit organizations from Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore also identified a need to learn how to ‘Develop Partnerships’ as a training topic that also falls within their top 5 priorities3.

Using the results from the survey, TechSoup has developed a series of training following the priority tech needs. In Philippines, we conducted a storytelling webinar, and set up Netsquared, a community-based learning group designed to support nonprofits in the area. The team will also be facilitating two sessions at the Community Seminar, hosted by APCOM.

TechSoup remains committed to empowering the nonprofit sector through providing various tools, resources and platforms.

1Informal survey was sent to Techsoup Asia-Pacific’s mailing list that generated 240 responses from NGOs across Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, South Korea, Cambodia, Myanmar and India.
2Specific priority ranking of ‘Digital Marketing’ as a training session per country are as follow: Ranked 1st (highest priority) in Thailand, 3rd in Vietnam and  4th in Indonesia and Philippines
3Specific ranking of ‘Developing Partnerships’ as a training sessions per country are as follow: Ranked 2nd in Indonesia and Vietnam and 4th in Singapore

Digibayanihan – Communal Unity in a Digital Age

As the world moves into the fourth industrial revolution, digital literacy is vital in ensuring people keep up with advancements. In a country like Philippines where crippling issues such as poverty, lack of access to primary education, where 5.6% of the population (roughly 5million adults) are unemployed, a more digitally savvy and literate nation brings an abundance of benefits to society.

Digibayanihan, a combination of the words digital and Bayanihan (translated to communal unity), an initiative that began in 2014 to promote digital literacy and digital citizenship, was relaunched in October this year. In partnership with the Philippines Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the project is supported by and spearheaded by Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST).

The DigiBayanihan project is split into three components:

  1. Test Hero, an online test preparation portal that seeks to help high school students confidently pass critical tests such as college and university entrance exams.
  2. Career Engine, prepares students to become job-ready and life-ready through soft skills training and assistive modules.
  3. DQ World, tackles the issue of internet safety and the role of DQ world in teaching children about responsible digital citizenship, and cyber safety in a digital world.

As digital literacy become a defining component in this modern world, DigiBayanihan and its initiatives strives to digitally transform the Philippines while shaping the country’s next future leaders to become more skilled yet more responsible.

Facebook Ads training

Around the world, Facebook is synonymous with many things – groundbreaking news, fake news, connecting old friends, building new networking, targeted marketing, and most recently advertising. These products are available and useful not just for businesses but to the nonprofit sector too.

In September, Japan NPO Center (TechSoup Japan) and Facebook Japan collaborated on another round of Facebook workshop for the nonprofit community in Japan.

The format, focusing on Facebook Ads, comprised two sessions – an afternoon session for the advanced users, and an evening session for the beginners session. A total of 80 participants signed up for the event.

Advanced level participants included existing Facebook Ad users, and those who were familiar with the extensive features of the social media. Facebook employee experts were invited to comment on actual Facebook Ad cases, providing constructive comments on ways to improve their reach and target audience.

Mr.HasegawaFacebookJapanFacebook Japan’s Managing Director, Shin Hasegawa, expressed that Facebook was pleased with on-going partnership with the nonprofit community, to which Facebook Japan would like to continue providing their know-hows as much as possible.


The Power of Volunteerism

Yayasan SALAM Malaysia hosted the 15th Asia Pacific Regional Volunteer Conference of International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from Nov 22 to 26.

Under the auspices of the Washington-headquartered IAVE, which promotes volunteering through 64 national volunteer centres and three regional volunteer networks, the regional conference is held biennially, by the host country that wins the bidding.

The five-day conference explored the diversity and power of volunteering, with the first two days dedicated to efforts of youth volunteers.

Topics that were explored during the conference were designed around six major topics relevant to the Asia Pacific region – technology and social innovation; sustainable development goals focusing on poverty, education and climate change; financial sustainability; corporate volunteering and strategic partnerships.

The conference attracted about 600 foreign and local delegates from various volunteering movements. Notable speakers at the conference included Tan Sri Dr Noorul Ainur, Secretary-General of the Higher Education Ministry; Datuk Zuraidah Atan, Chairman of Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa; Sue Hennessey, Country Director (Borneo) of Raleigh International; Jihoon Park, Team Lead, BBB Korea; Nunatinee, Malanon, Manager, Volunteer Spirit Network, Thailand; and Adrienne Picone, CEO, Volunteering, Australia.

Among the topics discussed are “Developing student volunteerism”, “The positive impact of senior volunteerism in helping seniors through para-counseling program”, “Employee volunteering increases professional development”, “Unearthing the true value of corporate volunteering for development impact”.

TechSoup Asia-Pacific presented two sessions at the Conference. Elizabeth Liew presented Social Technology and the Role of Technology in Volunteerism; while Simon Gee presented an overview of TechSoup Asia-Pacific.

Besides the conference, delegates also participated in a number of local volunteering programs during their stay in Malaysia. For more information on the IAVE Conference 2017, please contact Roza at

TechSoup’s Role in Strengthening Civil Society in the Mekong region

At the ICT Mekong Camp 2017 where more than 120 participants from the Mekong countries convened, five key issues continuously cropped up in conversations and break out sessions: hate speech, fake news, digital security, information privacy, and tech knowledge and support.

Although the five Mekong countries are in very different stages of economic development, with Thailand leading the GDP at USD3,841, and the other four countries just under the USD1,000 mark, these key issues underline a common denominator: the emergence of technology is rapidly changing the role of civil society.

In view of the evolving needs and roles of civil society, and the challenges affecting the sector, TechSoup Asia-Pacific was invited to conduct a break-out session “Understanding NGO Needs” to help participants identify their capacity-related needs. With economic and political restrictions, many of these nonprofits are only just slowly becoming accustomed to externalizing their challenges in a group, learning how to develop collaborative solutions.

Topping the list of challenges in the breakout session was a lack of funding, and the ambiguity of nonprofit legal frameworks. The participants, representing various nonprofit sectors, felt that given a choice on how to access consistent funding information, they would like to see a platform that matches grants and projects. Ideally, a platform like that would be able to screen the opportunities available, alert the interested organizations, and also highlight projects that require funding.

Across the region, the uncertainty and absence of legal frameworks for the nonprofit sector poses the biggest challenge. Not being recognized as a legal entity, not being allowed to register in the nonprofit sector, not being supported or allowed to carry out any kind of advocacy work – these factors reflect closing spaces in civil society.

In seeking TechSoup’s help, the sector understood that TechSoup represents more than just technology donations. Collectively, the group shared their hopes of seeing TechSoup continue expanding its role in empowering civil society organizations in the Mekong region, focusing on four key areas:

i) Address shrinking spaces in civil society : Globally, TechSoup has experience in increasing awareness of transparency and good governance, creating citizen participation channels such as forums and websites, and advocating for regulations that support the nonprofit sector.

ii) Training : Among the biggest challenges was their lack of access to training. Viewing TechSoup as their main tech marketplace, and the ‘go-to’ for all tech-related needs especially training for nonprofits, the sector collectively asked for more face-to-face training, online content and resources, discounted consultancy not just on ICT tools and adaptation, but other areas which could improve their organizational development, efficiency and productivity.

iii) Networking : As the TechSoup partner network organizes various events, and smaller convenings, the participants expressed their interest in being part of these events. Their networking goals are to establish potential collaborative partners, regionally and internationally, learn about new resources and available tools, as well as adopt best practices in their respective sectors.

iv) Developing thinking processes: For many of these entities, the first step to better organizational development is to frame their thoughts and ideas in a logical manner. One such example was a challenge a group had to address : given an end goal, the group had to explain in a 60 second pitch, how they planned to train 20 people in communities around Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia about digital security so that these small pockets of communities, could in turn train more people to explain the importance of Internet privacy and security. Although the group had a defined mission and an end goal, they were unclear how to formulate an action plan.

This break out session in the ICT Mekong Camp certainly brought light to the issues that new democracies and globalized communities are facing. Tackling these regional issues certainly requires more on-ground research and more face-to-face sessions with the sector.

TechSoup Asia-Pacific hopes that given time, the right resources and adequate support, it can continue to develop impactful projects and strengthen civil society in the Mekong region.

logical frameworks
Elizabeth Liew, Project Development TechSoup Asia-Pacific helps the group frame their thought process and develop an action plan to implement their idea









Some of the challenges presented by the participants during the break out session
Group 1
Another group shared a set of very clear challenges, needs and TechSoup’s role in addressing their challenges

Supporting I.T communities of nonprofits in Taiwan

Every organization, regardless sector, profit or nonprofit will have ICT needs. Servers, infrastructure, software and hardware procurement, firewall, securities, routine maintenance – all require I.T skills. The intricacies of the support system of an organization is often taken for granted.

In an effort to support ICT staff from the nonprofit sector, Frontier Foundation Taiwan organized a session in August with the aim of supporting and strengthening the nonprofit IT community in Taiwan.

Creating a face-to-face platform for IT related personnel was the first part of the strategy. Apart from developing this avenue for them to share knowledge, resources and best practices, Frontier Foundation Taiwan also set up an online discussion group on Facebook where materials can be circulated and downloaded, and discussions will extend beyond the physical boundaries of northern Taiwan.

The first meeting saw 20 participants representing 15 organizations from northern Taiwan. Common challenges  included implementation of cloud or office products, using nonprofit-specific products such as Google Nonprofits, troubleshooting and solving I.T issues with limited human resources. As many nonprofits are unable to afford full-time paid I.T staff, part of the goal was to invite volunteers, retirees, and professionals who are able to provide technical support, advice or hands-on troubleshooting for the nonprofit sector.

With quarterly meetings and an active online platform, Frontier Foundation hopes to provide to support and strengthen the nonprofit I.T community in Taiwan.

Adobe Spark

Towards SDG#5 – Closing Gender Equality Gaps

Female equality rights have come a long way since the late 1800s and early 1900s when the women’s rights movements saw females fighting for their basic rights – to education, work, equal pay, representation in society, reproductive rights, autonomy, freedom of movement, and elimination of various forms of discrimination.

In what is perceived as a fine balance between developing a progressive and modern economy, and maintaining traditional values and norms, gender equality remains a real struggle in Malaysia. A reflection of this is the most recent Global Gender Gap Report 2016, where Malaysia ranked at 106, behind its ASEAN counterparts Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Discrimination exists due to many factors – societal norms, cultural attitudes, access to education and finances. Unsurprisingly, stereotyped gender roles still dominate; the female-male workforce ratio is 50% vs 80%. Findings from a research on Malaysian women’s participation in the workforce found that Malaysian women above the age of 26 carry the “double burden” syndrome – of managing both the home and caring for their children or the elderly, and with that, they will unlikely return to the workforce.

As a result of these gender equality issues, Malaysia has seen a proliferated growth of civil society groups dedicated to empowering women and closing the gender equality gap.

The sector is very diverse – there are groups raising awareness on gender equality, teaching women about their rights; others are challenging traditional perceptions of women’s roles by encouraging female participation in the economic and political sector; while others focus on improving welfare policies for single mothers, and providing livelihood opportunities to enable mothers to return to the workforce.

In September, TechSoup Malaysia organized a meeting with Joint Action Group (JAG), a coalition comprising progressive feminist and women’s organizations in Malaysia and regionally. The goal of the meeting was to introduce TechSoup’s projects and products, but more importantly, to help the sector understand the TechSoup eligibility criteria for Malaysia  so that they can qualify for tech donations.

The essence of TechSoup’s goal and mission has always been to empower nonprofits and make technology accessible to the nonprofit sector, with hopes that these will lead to the Sustainable Development Goals and bring the change we want to see in this world.

Empower 6

Festival of Good Humans

In welcoming spring in Australia, Connecting Up has developed a unique initiative to bring ‘good humans’ together – the Festival of Good Humans.

Anyone and everyone are welcome to come together, either learn, teach, volunteer or sponsor. There are roles to suit everyone.

In partnership with Fifty Acres & Community Sector Banking, The Festival of Good Humans was designed to connect the non-profit sector with a wider community including corporates, creatives, technologists, academics and government. Connecting Up also hopes this event will spark conversations, develop think tanks and storytelling skills amongst non-profits, and help people experience the importance and the impact of the work of the community sector.

In an ecosystem where people’s talents, skills and passions overlap one another, developing and maintaining a diverse network where people can learn from one another is crucial for continued growth.

A series of interesting and innovative workshops have been lined up over the next one week from 28 Sept-4 Oct. For a small fee, participants can learn ways to develop intriguing storytelling techniques, fundamentals of Twitter, media messaging and positioning, and understanding key elements of communication. For more information on the Festival Of Good Humans click here.


Twitter storytelling Content strategy


















The Road to Reforming Human Rights in Malaysia

Growing up in Malaysia, we were used to seeing workers, both local and foreigners being exploited – long hours, low wages, no breaks, cramped living quarters, unsafe working conditions – all common sights when I was growing up.

Fast forward 20 years : in 2016, Malaysia, an almost developed-status country was ranked Tier 2 Watchlist of the Trafficked Persons Report.

Many of the issues still exist, exacerbated by the rapid economic developments of the country that call for an indefinite supply for migrant laborers. As part of its efforts to eliminate human trafficking in the country, the Malaysian government has been working with various civil society groups, engaging in stakeholder consultations to develop reforms, and improve its anti-trafficking laws and enforcement systems.

At the end of July, Project Liber8 a human trafficking awareness non-profit organized Advoc8 Hack, the country’s first ever national hackathon that aimed to develop technology solutions to help raise awareness on human trafficking issues in Malaysia.















I was invited to be on the panel of mentors and preliminary judges for the hackathon. Amidst the sea of coders and developers, UI/UX designers, and people who lived and breathed computer language, I was among the few who brought nonprofit experience to the participants.

Having worked on both a personal and professional capacity with migrants, refugees and trafficked persons, and nonprofits in the sector, I shared practical knowledge and lessons, my experiences with these communities and the likelihood of adoption based on my interactions with them.

Some teams had great ideas, but rated lower on the practical side. I probed them on impact measurement,  parameters of their features, effectiveness based on hypothetical scenarios, potential challenges, helped them organize their thought process and map their ideas so they could see which areas needed more refining.

Mentoring a team – mapping their thought processes, identifying challenges and ‘blind spots’









The same team (above) is shortlisted in the top 5










Another group I mentored


















It was a first in many ways – first time for TechSoup Asia-Pacific participating in a rights-related event in the region, first for us in presenting our work to the tech community on a national scale, and first for me as a mentor in a tech event.

TechSoup Asia-Pacific has also been invited to be part of the advisory board to help develop the winning team’s idea. Supported by the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs, it is hope that the solution derived from the hackathon will contribute towards the goal of elimination of human trafficking in the country.

Building Storytellers in Taiwan

As cyber space becoming increasingly crowded with a myriad of content where everyone is fighting for space and attention, nonprofits have to learn how to capture the essence of their impact in the most visually appealing way.

Over July and August, Frontier Foundation in Taiwan organized another successful series of storytelling workshops for TechSoup Taiwan members. A total of 137 participants from more than 100 organizations across northern Taiwan attended three sessions that showed them basic video making tools.

The first two sessions focused on basic shooting techniques and how to make videos via Power Director 14. The last workshop taught the participants to make short films on their mobile phones using Quik.

For some participants, it was their first time learning video making apps on their mobile phones, an extremely convenient way for most nonprofits who often do not have the resources for a dedicated social media staff.

Participants were also encouraged to send their stories to TechSoup’s Storymakers campaign, an annual campaign designed to encourage nonprofits to submit their short digital stories to let the world see. In addition to submitting their videos to Storymakers, Frontier Foundation has also encouraged nonprofits to deliver their stories to PeoPo, the citizen journalism arm of Taiwan Public Television Service. Winning videos are broadcasted on national television, giving them free access to paid media, which they otherwise would not have.

For more information and photos on the workshop, click on the link here.