Stories from around the TechSoup Global Network
The growing threat of COVID-19 and an uncertain future have brought about an unprecedented, worrisome time. It's easy to feel powerless. But amidst the darkness, stories of resilience, innovation, hope, and empowerment emerge.
TechSoup's nonprofit community includes more than 1.2 million community-based organizations (most of which are small, with fewer than five people on staff) on the front lines of this fight. The support they provide to vulnerable groups — whether they are homeless shelters, minority support groups, educators, or community healthcare providers — that work is more important now than ever.
Livelihoods for so many around the world are at risk, and nonprofits face similar safety and economic challenges while striving to meet their mission of serving those who need them. Often it is those whose household income or minority status lead them to lose the most in any global emergency. For example, The New York Times featured A New Mission for Nonprofits During the Outbreak: Survival, and Gizmodo offered At-Risk Kids Need Laptops to Learn, but Nonprofits Are Overloaded.
TechSoup Global Network partners have been working tirelessly to ensure that nonprofits have the tools they need to continue their empowering work remotely during the pandemic. Here are just a few highlights from our worldwide network of changemakers.
"We have been facing a tsunami as a society," said Emma Togni, marketing and communications director of TechSoup Italia. As Italy became an epicenter of the virus, and the country entered one of the first lockdowns in early March, "we asked ourselves what's the best way to serve our nonprofit community in the emergency," she said.
The TechSoup Italia program hit the ground running, bringing all of their activities online and scheduling weekly webinars focused on collaborative and smart working tools. "All our activities were transferred online. We started by doing a marathon of webinars, by involving our donor partners, first Microsoft. Today I hosted a webinar about Microsoft Teams with 500 people. There is huge demand for people that really want to use all these smart working tools," she said.
And to be in contact with its community of nonprofits every day, TechSoup Italia started live-streaming on Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in contact with its constituents. "Every day at 2:30 p.m. we live-host guests from the third sector to have an informal chat, said Togni.
"As a result, we are seen as the point of contact for the third sector for these emergencies. People can reach out to us and know where to find us."
Across the network, partners in Austria, Poland, France, Germany, and more are also leveraging the accessibility of webinars during this time to provide tips and tools for virtual work. For example, here's a webinar on remote work hosted by TechSoup Asia-Pacific. Participation in these webinars has grown quickly, reaching up to 1,000 nonprofit attendees for a single session in Germany, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
After postponing the country's first-ever social tech and innovation event in October due to the social and political crisis in Chile, TechSoup Global Network partners in Chile and Argentina quickly made moves from in-person to online support as well. CDI (Chile) and Wingu (Argentina) converted the Festival of Innovation and Independent Social Technology Santiago (FITSi), an in-person event, into an online experience for hundreds of attendees from five countries, in just two weeks.
CDI and Wingu replicated the full event remotely using the Hopin platform. They created virtual spaces for plenary sessions, breakouts, sponsor halls, and booths. The FITSi conference engaged over 400 nonprofits in sessions dedicated to online work and nonprofit sustainability.
TechSoup Polska also adapted quickly, responding to increased demand for cloud solutions and transforming in-person training into webinars via Zoom. The urgency also advanced TechSoup Polska's introduction of webinars, with its first one featuring how to recognize disinformation and uncover fake news.
"The new situation requires us to introduce new solutions that better meet current needs,"
said Magdalena Pieńkowska, program manager for TechSoup Polska.
TechSoup is dedicated to helping nonprofits everywhere learn how to take their events online. Join us on April 9 for a webinar on this topic.
Around the world, TechSoup Global Network members continue to lead the way, with initiatives that support healthcare workers, nonprofit fundraising, and virtual collaboration. In Hong Kong, network partner HKCSS's entire staff of 180 volunteered to distribute 1 million face masks to distribution points across the city. In the Czech Republic, the TechSoup Česká Republika program is helping cultural organizations raise money through an online fundraising portal as they begin to live-stream performances and events, replacing in-person events.
And in Hungary, TechSoup partner NIOK is offering free services on its crowdfunding donation platform for COVID-19-related fundraising campaigns, together with free mentoring and counseling.
TechSoup is also working with TSGN partners to launch a series of TechSoup Courses across the globe. The objectives of these courses are to be relevant at a time of need and to provide learning and training to all nonprofit staff and volunteers.
These courses train and prepare nonprofit leaders to leverage technology and software solutions to increase productivity and collaboration. In response to COVID-19, TechSoup compiled and released a free course dedicated to pivoting to remote work.
Our partner in Kenya, KCDF, localized this course within an African context, making it more applicable to nonprofits on the continent and modifying the modules to reflect a variety of African experiences.
"Our dedication through the TechSoup online courses during this COVID-19 crisis,"
said Natasha Murigu of KCDF,
"is to help organizations transition to the new work-from-home environment by offering relevant resources and courses while ensuring the nonprofits have what they need to support or restructure their work."
TechSoup Italia created Edu Smart, an initiative to support parents in teaching their children at home. They provide a website with free webinars and FAQ pages to train teachers. TechSoup Italia believes it is one of the first in Italy to offer this kind of support.
TechSoup has launched the TechSoup COVID-19 Recovery Fund to support the nonprofits it reaches around the world with the technology and resources they need to continue meeting their missions. We're working as quickly as we can to make this operational and are seeking resource partners to make it a reality. Learn more and join us!
Originally published as "Serving Nonprofits Through the COVID-19 Pandemic" with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.