Call for Increased Digital Proficiency in Non-Profit Sector

Wednesday 28 November 2012, 1:12PM
By Microsoft New Zealand

The growing importance of digital proficiency for New Zealand non-profit organisations was highlighted yesterday at the Microsoft's Connecting Communities conference in Auckland.

Peter Walton, Chief Executive Officer at Infoxchange Australia and keynote speaker at the conference, spoke to 120 non-profit organisations from around the country about the importance of technology use in the non-profit sector to enable organisations to reach their social and economic goals. Contributing organisations included Plunket, Stewart Rehabilitation, World Vision and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

“Not-for-profit organisations often have the most to gain from strengthening their digital capability, whether that is through improved productivity, enhanced fundraising or better engagement and communications with clients and stakeholders."

“Relatively recent developments such as the cloud are transformative and offer the potential to really democratise technology. This will significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the not-for-profit sector. There is a serious window of opportunity here in New Zealand to continue to strengthen the IT foundations upon which community organisations can maximise their social impact,” adds Walton.

According to Craig Le Quesne, Plunket’s General Manager, ICT, having the right technology in place has allowed Plunket to improve connectivity and collaboration within the organisation, as well as saving time and reducing costs.

"Having the right technology solution to support the ability of our staff and volunteers to help Kiwi children and families has been invaluable. We recently implemented Office 365 with Lync Online which has helped us keep our overheads low while also empowering our team and community to drive positive change."

"It is really important that non-profit organisations are exposed to resources, such as Connecting Communities, which will help them understand more clearly how technology can enable them to reach their goals. Sharing best practice and hearing from other similar organisations is a great way to get ideas for your own organisation,” says Le Quesne.

Heather Mansfield, author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits, discussed the use of social media in the non-profit sector and the tools available to support online fundraising, community-building and advocacy.

“Social media can dramatically change how non-profit organisations communicate with supporters and donors. While many organisations are experimenting with social media, few have received training on best practice when using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.”

“Training is essential for success – return on investment from using social media is directly related to staff knowledge of tools and the unique functionality of each platform,” says Mansfield

Belinda Gorman, Citizenship & Community Affairs Lead at Microsoft New Zealand says the Connecting Communities conference was developed to equip Kiwi non-profit organisations with the knowledge and skills needed to use technology to drive organisational objectives.

“The rapid growth in the technology and social media space provides tremendous opportunities for non-profit organisations. Connecting Communities gives organisations the opportunity to learn from industry experts, share knowledge and discuss best practice – the event wouldn’t be possible if these organisations weren’t willing to share their knowledge and experience with others in the sector,” says Gorman. 

Other topics discussed at the conference included the growth of key technology trends such as cloud computing and app development, along with how ICT is best used to enhance communication and collaboration, and the new tools and resources available.

Today, delegates are attending Social Media for Social Good, an intensive social media workshop run by Heather Mansfield. The workshop is designed to up-skill participants on key social media platforms.

Microsoft New Zealand has supported more than 1,000 non-profit organisations through financial investment, software and curriculum grant programmes, as well as a network of Community Technology Centers (CTCs). Financial donations across the last four years are valued at more than $30 million.