“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?”
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.
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?”
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.