Charities could help more people if they embraced new technology such as cloud computing and machine learning, an event at Microsoft has heard.
More than 100 representatives from over 80 UK charities took part in the Tech4Good conference at Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading recently.
They heard how technology can help them to better deliver their missions, improve their operations and do more good.
“Technology is an enabler,” said Michael Wignall, Chief Technology Officer for Microsoft UK. Revealing how all industries, including charities, needed to digitally transform to grow, he highlighted technology as the solution which “allows for a different business model to deliver your missions”.
More than 15 members of Microsoft‘s staff took advantage of their annual three days paid volunteering time to participate in the recent Tech4Good event. The day was organised by a team of interns, and employees from across the company explained the benefits of Azure, Power BI, Office 365, Windows 10, Yammer, Skype and social media to the charity representatives.
The presentations explained how these tools, which are included in Microsoft’s non-profit discount, can help charities help more people. Within organisations, technologies like Skype for Business and Office 365 can aid collaboration between employees and volunteers, increasing productivity and efficiency. Externally, data and analytics technologies could enable charities to improve how they measure their impact, helping them to make decisions about where they use their funds.
“Supporting UK charities in understanding how technology can contribute to their missions and help them achieve their goals is an important priority in our Tech4Good UK programme,” said Eve Joseph, UK Responsibilities Manager at Microsoft. “Technology has such an important role to play in our future and we want to ensure charities are able to understand and take advantage of the potential digital can offer.”
SpecialEffect, a gaming charity for people with disabilities, explained the benefits of having a strong online presence and how they had used social media to build a fan base. Nick Streeter, from the charity, encouraged similar organisations looking to grow online to use their platforms to thank supporters, tell stories of the people who run them and balance careful planning with reacting on the spot.
Following the event, 94% of attendees stated that their understanding of how technology can be utilised by charities had improved. In their feedback, participants said they learnt how to “use new technology to streamline and update” how they work, as well as utilise Power BI, cloud computing and Office 365.
For more information about Microsoft discounts and donations for non-profits, click here. The programme offers donations, discounted cloud services, software and hardware to charitable organisations. In the past decade, Microsoft has donated to more than 17,000 charities in the UK.
Microsoft hosts Tech4Good events regularly throughout the year, and charities can keep up to date by following @MSCharitiesUK on Twitter.