The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Microsoft New Zealand today announced a joint project in Christchurch to strengthen the technology capability of 50 not-for-profit organisations – some badly affected by the Canterbury earthquakes.
MSD and Microsoft are co-funding the initiative, which includes assessing the technology capacity of 50 non-government organisations (NGOs) and providing practical plans for future improvements.
Left to right: Murray Edridge, Deputy Chief Executive, Family & Community Services of the Ministry of Social Development; Margaret Jefferies, Chair, Project Lyttelton; Peter Walton, Chief Executive, Infoxchange; and Paul Muckleston, Managing Director, Microsoft New Zealand
The assessments and plans will be developed by Infoxchange, a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to create social equality and opportunity by empowering people through access to information technology and enabling the exchange of information and ideas. Under the scheme Infoxchange will visit each of the 50 non-profits for a free two-day consultancy to help them improve their technology and communications.
IT needs were identified by community groups last year as a high priority in the aftermath of the earthquakes – second only to office premises, says Murray Edridge, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development’s Family and Community Services division.
“This project is providing the impetus to ensure organisations are able to embrace technology to assist their post-quake recovery, as well as transform their effectiveness in delivering services,” says Mr Edridge.
Microsoft New Zealand Managing Director Paul Muckleston says supporting NGOs to build their IT capacity is part of Microsoft’s philanthropic outreach, globally.
“The earthquakes caused a significant loss of ICT infrastructure and capability for a number of companies and not-for-profits within the region – dramatically affecting their ability to deliver critical social services,” says Mr Muckleston.
Community sustainability is a key focus of Project Lyttelton, one of the groups involved in the early stage of the initiative – along with the Family Help Trust; Christchurch Budget Service; Battered Women’s Trust; Sexual Abuse Survivors Trust; Supergrans; and Te Puna Oranga.
Project Lyttelton Chairperson Margaret Jefferies says the Infoxchange team, during their two-day assessment, gained a “real flavour” of the organisation. Project Lyttelton’s IT requirements include a database for a Timebank which trades skills in the community.
“They understood our needs and the not-for-profit environment we work in. Ensuring greater IT experience on the project board is one of the valuable recommendations that we have already implemented,” says Ms Jefferies.
At the launch of the initiative today, other New Zealand NGOs were encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity for a free assessment and plan.
Organisations should apply online at www.infoxchange.org.nz/apply-now. Applications are considered by an Advisory Group consisting of individuals from the Ministry of Social Development, Microsoft, Infoxchange, Parry Field Charitable Foundation and the University of Canterbury.