Microsoft Provides Christchurch Women’s Refuge with Disaster-Proof Email Solution

Founded in 1973, Christchurch Women’s Refuge is New Zealand’s first refuge service for women and children affected by family violence. The nonprofit organization serves an area covering the Christchurch, North Canterbury, Selwyn and Banks Peninsula districts, and currently supports more than 12,000 women and children.

Following a series of earthquakes that hit New Zealand in 2010, Christchurch Women’s Refuge realized it needed a more robust email solution that is not dependent on an on-premise server and allows its staff to work remotely even in the face of natural disasters. “We had a sense that our communications and records might need additional off-site back-up, but we didn’t realize the extent that they were in jeopardy until the earthquakes in September 2010,” said Christine Wallace, Office Manager, Christchurch Women’s Refuge.

To address its need for a solution that would not require hardware, Christchurch Women’s Refuge implemented Microsoft® Office 365 and Exchange Online for reliable cloud-based email applications, as well as providing its 23 employees with the ability to work remotely.

As a nonprofit organization, Christchurch Women’s Refuge is faced with limited resources — its staff relied on ad-hoc information technology (IT) support and shared email accounts — and a lack of calendaring functionality. Office 365 helps to address the organization’s need for a solution that would significantly improve staff collaboration and productivity while reducing IT expenditures.

Christchurch Women’s Refuge staff can now check their email from home, which has been greatly appreciated, particularly by shift workers who aren’t in the office every day and now feel part of the office team. Employees are also achieving new levels of productivity by being able to synchronize their calendar, contacts and email to their mobile phones.

With IT as a service, support and maintenance are included in the monthly fee, enabling the Christchurch Women’s Refuge team to focus its IT budget on training and implementing new services. “Like all nonprofit organizations, we have one eye on funding and a tight-fist approach to overheads, with our focus on delivering services to families. Office 365 enables our organization to outsource email and concentrate our efforts on our purpose,” Ms Wallace commented.

Through the successful technology implementation, Microsoft New Zealand has helped Christchurch Women’s Refuge operate more efficiently, continuing to provide vital services at times of need.

“Technology is continually evolving and we are keen to utilize more features of Office 365. We are committed to reducing our reliance on paper through the use of electronic diaries and encouraging entry online, and we are looking into SharePoint Online to expand collaboration and data sharing to include partner organizations. We are also moving to a wireless environment, which will give us even greater flexibility within the office environment,” Ms Wallace concluded.

“Microsoft Office 365 enables our organization to outsource email and concentrate our efforts on our purpose.”

Christine Wallace, Office Manager, Christchurch Women’s Refuge


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