How Digital Literacy Affects Nonprofits

“Anyone here uses Skype for international calls?”
Sheepish grins around the room, then silence.
“I know little bit lah, but not so pandai (clever in Bahasa Malaysia). Can teach Aunty?”

Jpeg
Enthusiastic learners from the nonprofit community in Johor

This was the typical response we received during our training for nonprofits: they’ve heard, they’ve seen, but never explored.

Be it Skype, Slack, MailChimp, Outlook, Google Drive, or WordPress, they’ve definitely heard of one or more of these tools, but not ventured very far.

Skype icon  Slack CMYK MailChimp-logo  app_launcher_select_calendar  google drive    wordpress

At the TechSoup Asia-Pacific roadshows in Malaysia, I observed that each group (geographically divided) had varied technology skill sets and gaps.

In Johor, the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia, their skill gaps centred on free communication and social media fundamentals such as Skype, basic Facebook marketing and free newsletter softwares such as MailChimp.

The majority of the civil organizations in Johor Bahru who attended our event were technology newbies: beginners who were just understanding the power of the Internet and social media. They had little knowledge of digital security, websites, or social media. These participants would be a perfect Digital Literacy Basics 101 group.

In Kuala Lumpur, the capital of the country, city folks sat on the intermediate scale of digital literacy. This Basic Intermediate 201 group were the ones who had toyed around with social media tools, promoting their fundraising events on Facebook and regularly posting updates as part of their public awareness and outreach. They understood cost savings from digitizing their work. They understood the impact of a powerful one minute video. They understood regular communication and updates are part of a wider PR and Marketing strategy.

Nevertheless, they were still eager learners. The trail of questions continued trickling in:

“How do we sign up for GoogleAdWords for nonprofits?”
“Can you teach us more about cloud computing?”
“What other products from the TechSoup Asia-Pacific catalogue would you recommend to my nonprofit?”
“Is it hard to make a website? Can you teach us to how to make one?”
“Will you host workshops on digital storytelling?”

Khairdah Mahmood during a half day workshop for NGOs
Khairdah Mahmood from TechSoup Malaysia during a half day workshop for nonprofits in Kuala Lumpur

Increasingly, nonprofits are realizing the benefits of digitizing their work and how digital literacy impacts their organization, internally and externally.

In the coming months, the TechSoup Asia-Pacific team will be hosting webinars, conducting face-to-face workshops, and continue enabling technology to nonprofits across all sectors, so that they can continue to make a difference in Malaysia and the world.

Microsoft Technology for Good Singapore 2016

Enabling – This was the prime focus of the Technology for Good half-day conference held last 10 December 2016 at Lengkok Bahru, Singapore, organized in partnership with Microsoft Singapore.

As part of the larger Microsoft We Tech Care conference held by Microsoft Philanthropies Singapore that day, Technology for Good served as the opening session that catered for over 45 unique charities.

Stories of empowerment

Unlike most technology events, Technology for Good was centered on a unique premise: the stories of nonprofits. This was most evident in the opening sessions lead by Aude Breteau & Borko Kovacevic of Microsoft Singapore, along with Jed Adao of TechSoup Asia-Pacific.

This was followed by TechSoup Asia-Pacific’s Jed Adao who talked about the story of SCA Philippines and how they overcame their limitations in manpower through researching and implementing Office 365 donations on their own, thus allowing them to empower more youth in the Philippines despite having a small team of three.

Throughout the day, the participants learned success stories from fellow charities and watched live demonstrations of technology donations that are made available for them through the Microsoft donations program.

More ahead

This half-day conference is part of a larger initiative of Microsoft Singapore and TechSoup Asia-Pacific. In the coming months, TechSoup Asia-Pacific will be hosting a series of half-day trainings with Microsoft Singapore.

The upcoming half-day trainings will focus on giving local nonprofits a guided experience on utilizing Microsoft Cloud Donations in order to help them work collaboratively, optimize communications, improve data management, and many more.

As a follow-up to that as well, a free webinar will also be held to serve as a venue for nonprofits to clarify questions that they may have on these topics. These follow-up initiatives will take place on February to March of 2017.

For the full story, please click on the link here.

Tableau Analysis Data Training

In early December, TechSoup China’s local partner, NPI worked with the local China Tableau marketing office to provide Tableau training to selected NGOs and key NPI project staff, including the China Foundation Center and Greenpeace.

The 3 hour hands-on demo and training covered key data analysis and visualization capabilities such as data maps and comparative graphs that would prove useful for China NGOs.

NPI received 25 participants at their training center located in their new office in Beijing.

TechSoup, Ford Foundation China and China Pro Bono Link empower NGOs

In collaboration with Ford Foundation China and our China partner Pro Bono Link, TechSoup Asia-Pacific will be launching a new pilot project in China to help non-profits connect with service providers and consultants.

The project comprises two components: first, the development of an online directory of service providers ranging from legal, finance, human resources, information technology, and marketing communications; and subsequently, a training series to help Ford Foundation grantees better engage with service providers.

The 10-month long project, the first of its kind in China, leverages the new TechSoup Consultant Connection program to soon launch in the US that connects technology service providers to the non-profit communities, is the first of its kind in China.

The China pilot will focus on helping Ford Foundation China’s grantees access and a starting group of service providers for a variety of capacity-building. Eventually, we aim to expand the program and serve a wider non profit community in China.

The project will be launched in Q2 this year, kicking off with the online directory, followed by the training series.

Developing Civil Society Organizations in Malaysia

In the last decade, Malaysia has accelerated to become among the top three fastest moving digital economies in the world, a combination of easily accessible Internet, improved physical infrastructure, and a growing smartphone population.

Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Entrepreneurs leverage on digital-focused initiatives established by the government – Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Malaysia, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). In more recent years, MaGIC Academy, a part of the MDEC ecosystem, was set up to support startups in the country.

The Malaysian government has also developed new initiatives under the digital economy plan which will focus on four key areas
i) Empowering digital businesses to compete globally;
ii) Offering local accreditation to foreign companies;
iii) Building local talent including e-commerce, cloud, creative technology, Internet of Things and Big Data; and iv) Helping citizens launch their businesses online.

One of the key components in the economic development of a nation are civil society organizations and nonprofits, who strive to create and stimulate positive social impact. Despite the extensive support for SMEs and startups, Malaysia lacks a similar framework to build capacity of civil society organizations. Many of these nonprofits not only lack resources, manpower, human capital but also basic technology know-hows.

In partnership with TechSoup Asia-Pacific’s Malaysia partner Yayasan Salam, the team organized a training and awareness outreach to smaller cities in Malaysia over the last quarter of 2016.

The three awareness programs in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Kuching (East Malaysia) received more than 100 attendees from over 35 different organizations. Through these outreach awareness and training programs, it enabled us to clearly identify technology skills that nonprofit organizations require:

  • Social media training
  • Free communication tools
  • Crowd funding
  • Cloud computing
  • Maximiing benefits for nonprofits e.g. GoogleAdWords
  • Leveraging on technology to solve social problems

Enhancing I.T skills are critical not only in helping nonprofits advance their development, but also helping Malaysia achieve its goal of becoming a digitally inclusive community.

Tech For Nonprofits In A New Democracy

There is much to learn in Myanmar, a country that has just embraced globalization for the first time in its history.

The TechSoup Asia-Pacific team recently embarked on a short familiarization trip to Myanmar, to meet with stakeholders and understand the social development challenges that the country is facing, having just opened its doors to the world.

With a current estimated Internet penetration rate of 19% (11mil of 58mil pop.) and research indicating that 96% of these users are Facebook users*, technology related issues such as digital literacy, cyber security and the viral spread of fake news on social media, have become a growing concern for civil societies and international organizations in Myanmar.

Matt Jung, TechSoup Asia-Pacific’s Director of Development was invited to speak at fhi360‘s workshop “Strengthening of Civil Society Organizations” for nonprofits in Myanmar. The project was initiated to build the capacity of various nonprofits and community-based organizations in the country.

A key outcome from this session for TechSoup Asia-Pacific was a chance to collaborate with fhi360 in identifying nonprofits’ skills gap and drawing up a customised tech training for these organizations.

The team was also invited to present an overview of TechSoup Asia-Pacific’s development projects at Phandeeyar, a social innovation lab spearheading the development of Myanmar’s tech ecosystem.

The attendees, comprising a range of civil society organizations, grassroots and community-based organizations, were keen to learn how they could benefit from the range of technology software donations and consultancy support that TechSoup offers.

In a country that has endured almost six decades of military rule, where democracy, transparency, and peaceful transition processes are now reliant on technology to advance, TechSoup Asia-Pacific will play an important role in the development of a progressive Myanmar.

*source: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats3.htm

Bridging the divide

In many emerging economies, digital gaps exist because communities at large have no access to computers.

Accessibility to technology is crucial. However, of equally importance for these societies, is being digitally literate.

A core focus area of TechSoup Asia Pacific is understanding these gaps in the non-profit sector, and developing capacity building programs for them. By equipping these communities with knowledge on how to best utilise available products, it will empower them and allow them to address social issues.

Recently, Yayasan Salam and Kitabisa.com, our partner NGOs in Malaysia and Indonesia respectively, conducted free f2f trainings for non-profits.

In total, approximately 120 participants from 85 organisations attended the half-day workshops, which covered popular topics, such as external marketing tools, internal communication software, and ways that non-profits could maximise social media.

Concurrently, the Asia Pacific team continues to run webinars open for all. The recent 1-hour webinar on MailChimp received registration of more than 140 participants.

Click here for the MailChimp webinar.

Simplifying Technology

Technology can be daunting for many, especially for those who struggle to keep up with emerging technological trends. In view of the low digital literacy in the region, the TechSoup Asia Pacific team has made it a priority to simplify these ‘daunting’ concepts.

Jed Adao, TechSoup Asia-Pacific Project Coordinator, developed a mini series of “Tech Made Easy” videos on YouTube. These 1-minute videos have been used in various webinars and f2f trainings across our SE Asia partner network as well as TechSoup UK:

The goal of these videos is to summarise new and existing technology concepts, as well as introduce new products to the non-profit community.

Although certain software such as MailChimp are free and available online, many NGOs lack the knowledge on how to use such products.

Understanding this digital gap, and the need for easy-to-understand content, TechSoup Asia-Pacific has simplified content and made it accessible for the non-profit community.

Our regular webinars and step-by-step guides on both free and paid products, help to reduce the digital divide and build the tech capacity of the non-profit community in the region.

The TechSoup Asia-Pacific catalogue carries a wide range of products including operating systems, project management, anti-spam, security and firewall, multimedia and graphics, mapping tools and programming softwares.

For more information on the TechSoup Asia Pacific catalogue or country-specific products, visit our Tech Donation page or contact customerservice@techsoup.asia.

#LetsGetSocial @ Bandung

At the end of August, we co-organized #LetsGetSocial! with our Indonesia partner Kitabisa in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. 148 participants representing 87 organizations from across the Java province – Bandung, Tasikmalaya, Garut, and Semarang attended the session.

Kitabisa shared tips on how to raise money online, how to be a digital-friendly organization, and ways that nonprofits could utilize tech.

Read more about Kitabisa’s online fundraising work here.

“Wira Wanita” : Working together towards SDG #5

Yayasan Salam recently embarked on a new project titled “Wira Wanita” (Heroines in Bahasa Malaysia), focusing on empowering stay-at-home mothers with life skills they need in their day-to-day lives.

The majority of the beneficiaries are single mothers from lower socioeconomic groups living in rural pockets of Malaysia: these women generally do not have access to resources and knowledge that urban mothers have.

The “Wira Wanita programme is divided into 3 sections, each module with its own focus:

  • Mother Motivator” imparts new parenting methods, and how they can become motivators for their children;
  • Manic Mom”, trains women on First Aid application and how to handle various emergencies at home such as fires, electrical short circuits, and even natural disasters and basic self defence
  • Raising Above”, provides an overview of domestic violence, the goal being to teach women their rights and who they can reach out to in domestic violence cases.

The training modules will include break-out discussions, sharing and reflection sessions, as well as hands-on training and ‘simulations’, and will be conducted in various locations around Malaysia over a two-year period.

Empowering women is a growing priority in a progressive nation like Malaysia. In line with working towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 (Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls), Yayasan Salam will continue to develop women empowerment projects to end discrimination and violence against women.