Inspired by the positive response to its TechDonation Initiative, Microsoft Hong Kong is opening the door wider to more local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to benefit from its innovative programme. Launched in December 2007 with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS), TechDonation aims to help NGOs improve their efficiency through technology.
"Many local non-profit making organisations, particularly those of small or medium size, had limited resources in developing their IT systems. By introducing the initiative, we aimed to help them enhance the efficiency of their back-end operations, so that their frontline services would improve as a result," says Sheila Tang, corporate affairs director at Microsoft Hong Kong.
After helping some 250 groups, the software giant and HKCSS decided to expand the programme because they believe many qualified NGOs have not enrolled in it yet. "Based on research by HKCSS in 2007, there should be some 2,000 local NGOs who are eligible," Tang notes.
To expand coverage, Microsoft has eased the eligibility requirements and expanded the range of software categories covered by the donation programme.
"When we first launched the programme, any NGO registered under Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance, except for those with political and religious affiliations, were eligible," she adds. "We have broadened the range of eligible NGOs by adding three categories - medical research organisations, amateur sport associations, and private foundations."
The software categories have also been widened. Out of the more than 100 categories of software products, the enrolled NGOs can choose a maximum of 10 categories, each with 50 licences available. Originally, each NGO could only access six categories, Tang adds.
Enrolled NGOs can now also apply for the use of software within the quota wherever the needs arise within two years. In the past, they could only make applications once a year. NGOs can reapply after the licences have expired, usually after two years.
Microsoft also provides IT support to NGO personnel. "We partner up with professional trainers to organise training for the NGOs. We also offer sets of curricul