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A guided tour of the Cloud: Empowering NGOs in China with Office 365

As most NGOs would attest to, one of the key limitations that hinder their growth and adoption of relevant solutions is their limited IT team and resources – or in some cases, a complete lack thereof.

Recognizing this issue, NPI – TechSoup’s partner NGO in China – has sought to address this concern by offering NGOs a hands-on training program that seeks to assist NGOs in various stages of implementing Office 365, beginning from the process of applying for the donations up to the actual usage of its various features.

In focusing on Office 365, NPI sees an opportunity to arm, educate and enable any NGO with essential cloud tools to make their operations efficient, that is flexible to any changes in their organizational size & structure, and most importantly, requires very little maintenance.

NPI to this day has been able to pilot this program on 3 separate NGOs, providing them a guided one-on-one experience that encompassed various stages of implementation. This ranged from as early as setting up their domains & user accounts, up to a more feature-focused approach such as training on SharePoint and Teams.

NPI’s initiative is not limited to hands-on trainings though, should an NGO in China want to receive quick support, they may also access NPI’s modules online through the links below:

NGO Connection Day 2018 in Taiwan

Every year, we tour in different cities in Taiwan to explore new ICT innovation and trends with local nonprofits. These events are co-sponsored by the local Microsoft office in Taiwan.

In 2018, we successfully conducted 3 events: “Office 365 Advanced Training for NPOs” in Taipei and Kaohsiung cities,  and “Basic Data Analysis for NPOs” in Taipei. We had total of 155 attendees from 109 NPOs joining together. These included attendees of varying professions such as including IT professionals, administrative staff, and social workers to name a few. This time around, we invited participants to bring their own laptops and divided them into different groups so that they may learn and discuss in a collaborative nature.

For the Office 365 events in Taipei and Kaohsiung, we focused on helping the attendees learn to discover more about Office 365’s various services, such as SharePoint, Power App and Flow. In addition, we also invited NPO partners to share their own experiences in implementing the solution and their future vision of enhancing organizational management and data accumulation.

On the other hand, in the “Basic Data Analysis for NPOs” event, we focused on giving participants a general idea of how they may use Power BI Desktop to do the data cleaning, analysis, and visualization through its charts and graphs. In addition, participants were also taught how Power BI integrates with Office 365 suites for advanced collaboration and data management.

For more details, please visit TechSoup Taiwan’s blog.

TechSoup in the CSR space, Kuala Lumpur

Over the course of my 12-year career in social responsibility, I have been privileged to have experienced life from both sides: the funder (the giver) and non-profit sector (the receiver). I have also witnessed the evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Malaysia, from a hand-out charitable, one-off donation mentality, to inclusive, rights-skewed, educational and action-based projects that empower communities encouraging them to take action.

Ask any non-profit and you’ll hear the same sentiments echoing across: lack of stable funding, lack of human capital and adequate resources, desperately need better organizational effectiveness, better external and internal communication, more social media skills, and so on.

If you turn it around, and ask the corporate sector, you’ll hear “We lack of good projects from NGOs. They have unrealistic impact. Most don’t spend time researching on their funders. No cohesive approach.”

The above were actual comments from the corporate sector who attended the TechSoup Corporate CSR Networking event at Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur on 7 March 2018.

In the CSR Networking event, the consensus was clear: the non-profit sector needs to strengthen their foundational skills. Some challenges require little technology intervention, others require more.

In the coming months, TechSoup’s goal is to develop projects that will address the priorities in the last three quadrants as shown in the image below.

 

Data Bootcamp for NGO

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In September 15, Frontier Foundation and Open Culture Foundation (OCF) held this one-day data workshop for NGO workers. This event is part of Civic Tech Fest in Taiwan.

When talking about big data or open data, people often think it’s a hard thing needing lots of expertise. Therefore, the goal of the event is to provide basic data analysis concepts, and for participants to learn to use Microsoft Power BI to deliver data visualization work. Thus they can apply those skills to the data in their organizations or advocacy themes.

We had Ning Huang, co-founder of R-Ladies Taipei, as the lecturer. 35 people joined the workshop and broke into six groups. They needed to work together to observe the data, ask good questions, use formulas and Power BI to analyze the provided data. In the end, each group presented their findings and observation.

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

Mapping NGO Capacities Across the Region

Looking at a room of 30 people from all walks of the nonprofit sector, I wasn’t sure my planned session was going to work. The participants represented very diverse causes – from HIV intervention and prevention, cultural restoration and preservation, empowerment of rural farmers, faith-based child protection, food wastage, disability rights, to LGBTQ and gender rights. Would they be able to relate to each other’s challenges, goals and missions?

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That first session, and the four more over the next few months worked. Feedback from participants were positive, “This is exactly what we needed : someone to help to identify our pain points, and map out a plan to help us achieve our goals.”

Others echoed the same sentiment: “It is easier when we map out the goals, determine the most important one, then list the things we need to do to achieve the goal. It was helpful to learn to prioritize, and see how much technology is needed in each action. Otherwise, we just don’t know where to start, or how to start.”

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Having designed and facilitated five workshops for a variety of nonprofits from 15 countries in the region, including the Federation of Micronesia, an important theme has become clear:

As TechSoup continues to empower civil society around the world, it has also become part of our goal to help the nonprofit sector map out a sustainability path. By helping nonprofits list out their goals, map and prioritize major steps in their action plan, it is also imperative for TechSoup to help them understand the role of technology in achieving their goal. Ideally, this reduces the fear of having to embrace and implement technology, all at once.

Over time, we hope that these nonprofit organizations with great visions, can take the lessons learned from the small workshop sessions and use that to pave successes ahead.

worrkshop 3 NGO Group workshop breakout

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.

 

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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.

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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.

When E-hailing Met Crowdfunding

E-hailing has saved lives around the world – used as an ambulance service for its low price, used as a way to deliver emergency medication, and more commonly used as a safe way to get home to prevent drunk driving.

Kitabisa in Indonesia recently developed an innovative solution merging the two tech products : e-hailing and crowdfunding

An 11-second video showing a teacher swimming across an island where he teaches, went viral on social media. A local nonprofit Insan Bumi Mandiri started a fundraising campaign #perahuuntukpakguru (#boatforMr.Teacher) on the Kitabisa platform to help purchase and give boats to teachers, to enable them to teach on islands in East Nusa Tenggara area.

Following the fundraising campaign, on-demand e-hailing transportation company GRAB donated 2 boats (approx 150 million rupiahs or USD15,000) to the campaign, bringing it to a total of 528 million rupiahs (approx USD40,000).

The two boats were painted with GRAB’s bright green logo and color – a creative display of positive social impact and brand enhancement. The first of its kind in the country, it has attracted attention from the philanthropic and corporate sector.

“Since the GRAB donation, Kitabisa has been approached by various companies reaching out to do similar events,” adds Vikra Ijas, Chief Marketing Office for Kitabisa.

Click here for full story and here for Facebook updates.

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.

Sharing at AVPN 2017 in Bangkok

This AVPN Conference brought together a diverse group of funders and resource providers from around the world for this key gathering of philanthropists and social investors in Asia. This year’s theme “Collaborating for Impact” emphasized partnership across sectors and borders when looking to tackle some of Asia’s biggest challenges in education, health, livelihoods, the environment, and more.

Simon Gee and Matt Jung joined the conference and had some insightful sharing and networking among the over 700 attendees, which included foundations, NGOs and CSOs, impact investors, and a variety of social impact practitioners. Simon shared TechSoup’s experience in a roundtable, “Scaling the Impact Technology Social Enterprises in Asia.”

The sessions and panels had some quality content with experienced investors, NGOs and service providers. Impact investor movement are developing in Asia, bringing in more funding alongside more traditional philanthropy. Though impact investors still seek return on investment, more of the conference talk was around impact, and ability to scale. However, there was some consensus that there needs to be more impact funding, and such funders do not feel there are enough investees  social enterprises and NGOs and the likes, that are developed enough for their investment criteria.

The AVPN also organized ‘Deal Share Live – Investment Showcase’, featuring pitches from 30 social purpose organizations, and most of them were nonprofits. Several organizations approached TechSoup, asking for some experience help to leverage technology to further scale their programs.

We aim for the TechSoup network to play a greater role in the development of new impactful programs for Asia.