Toronto Wildlife Centre has been a leader in wildlife rescue, veterinary care, rehabilitation, and education efforts in Southern Ontario since 1993. The Centre’s expert staff of more than 20 along with hundreds of dedicated volunteers come to the aid of sick, injured, and orphaned animals and care for them until they can be returned to the wild. Easy and fast access to information often dictates how many animals they can save.
Like so many nonprofits, budgets are small, and stretching dollars is essential to the Centre’s survival. As a result, the Centre’s basic technology — which included a mishmash of 14 donated computers with whatever operating systems and software they arrived with — was sorely out of date. “Our network and computers resembled Frankenstein’s laboratory,” says the Centre’s IT coordinator, Scott Wight. “Keeping it all running was an exercise in extreme DIY and creativity.” Even the simplest tasks, such as emailing files and data entry, proved challenging.
“We saw a lot of the infamous hourglass,” remembers Wight. “Our database was slow and glitchy, and we would frequently lose information when things froze up.” Rather than helping the Centre achieve its mission, technology had become a source of frustration — especially when it came to responding to the Wildlife Hotline, which allows the public to report a wildlife concern. Staff was not always able to respond quickly to urgent calls, sometimes meaning the difference between life and death for an injured or sick animals.
As with this young coyote, mink and owl, the Toronto Wildlife Centre comes to the aid of sick, injured, and orphaned animals and cares for them until they can be returned to the wild. Easy and fast access to information often dictates how many animals they can save.
This was Wight’s impetus to register with TechSoup Canada for Microsoft software donations and upgrade the entire office to Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003. “Right from the get go, our operations were more efficient,” he says. “The new Microsoft technology has enabled us to help more wildlife while giving a serious boost to morale.” With everyone equipped with the same tools, staff and volunteers expressed a newfound satisfaction. Workflow, communication, and collaboration improved exponentially. Stabilizing our existing Access database with up to date software made recordkeeping more reliable.
Wight saw the most measurable improvement in triage: the new technology increased staff’s ability to prioritize and quickly respond to the Wildlife Hotline calls, which lies at the core of the organization’s work. “It’s our number one outward-facing program,” he says. More than 65,000 wild animals representing over 270 different species have received care as a result.
“It is truly unbelievable the difference these donations have made to Toronto Wildlife Centre,” Wight says. He is now eager to upgrade the Centre to Windows 7 and Office 2010 to help keep the organization running as smoothly and efficiently as ever.