TAIPEI, Taiwan, July 19, 2001 — It’s no secret that nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are often short on funding and adequate technology Taiwan’s are no exception. After the island region was shaken by a devastating earthquake September 1999, Microsoft Taiwan saw an opportunity to help rebuild, to help with the bricks and mortar needed to bring hope and opportunity back to the island’s people.
Chen Lein-Chao (right), president of the National Association of the Deaf in R.O.C., uses sign language along with CD software.
In addition to committing more than US$300,000 for immediate emergency needs, Microsoft Taiwan sought to contribute to long-term rebuilding efforts — recognizing that NPOs are critical to the rescue and recovery process after natural disasters.
One month after the earthquake, Microsoft Taiwan created the NPO Empowerment Program, sponsored by the Acer Group, a Taiwan-based PC vendor, to make information technology more accessible to NPOs.
“Whenever society encounters catastrophic incidents, we can always find many nonprofit organizations giving their timely support,” says Eunice Chiou, general manager of Microsoft Taiwan. “While embracing information technology has been a worldwide trend for a lot of organizations, the NPOs are more desperate to utilize information technology in order to improve service and efficiency than many enterprises and individuals, due to the shortage of manpower and resources.”
Chiou and Microsoft Taiwan hope the NPO Empowerment Program will help break new ground for many disadvantaged groups.
With more than 200 NPOs submitting proposals for assistance and only 42 able to benefit from the original program, Microsoft Taiwan implemented the same program last year in order to satisfy the tremendous need for information technology. Currently, the program has assisted 84 NPOs in need.
For years, Taiwan’s National Association of the Deaf in the Republic of China (R.O.C.) taught sign language through instructional videotapes. The process wasn’t efficient — students had to rewind the tapes to search for the signs or vocabulary that they needed to review. But with PCs and Internet access donated through the NPO Empowerment Program, the association was able to burn sign-language instruction onto CDs.
“Now all they need to do is type words on the keyboard and the screen will immediately show the sign language for them,” said Chen Lein-Chao, president of the National Association of the Deaf in R.O.C. “It improves the learning process and delivers incredible results.”
The End Child Prostitution Association Taiwan (ECPAT) also received computer hardware and software from Microsoft Taiwan and the Acer Group and is already seeing benefits. With the technology, this particular NPO was able to set up ECPAT’s Internet Pornography Information Supervision Room.
“Our Internet Pornography Information Supervision Room gets a lot of attention,” said Lee Li-Fen, chairman of ECPAT. “Many citizens come to join the volunteer team, including seniors over 70. Here in ECPAT, seniors not only help monitor pornography Web sites, but learn how to use computers.”
Another NPO that has benefited from Microsoft Taiwan’s program is the Christian Mustard Seed Mission. After the NPO Empowerment Program donated hardware and software to the program, they were able to enter general information on children into a database. Now, when people donate clothes, shoes or other items, mission workers don’t need to flip through inefficient books crammed with information on the many different children’s sizes. The technology provides all the information on families that the mission needs with just a click of a mouse or a few search terms.
The Bunun Cultural Education Foundation, which serves an aboriginal group in Taiwan, also put its hardware and software donation from Microsoft Taiwan to good use.
With its new technology, the foundation established PC training and created a Web site, http://www.bunun.org.tw/ , to promote Bunun culture to the world. And, with the aid of a computer, online knitting classes were arranged.
Microsoft Taiwan’s NPO Empowerment Program is just one example that proves that technology and a helping hand can go a long way toward laying the foundation for a better society, one that has the resources needed to help itself and its people. Microsoft has long committed itself to this outreach, and recently announced the first recipients of the Microsoft Disaster Assistance Technology Grants. Three international humanitarian organizations — Mercy Corps, Save the Children and World Vision — will receive a combination of cash, software and Microsoft Consulting Service hours totaling more than $739,000 to apply innovative technology solutions to their disaster-assistance programs.