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Expanding Internationally Through Partnerships: Practical Lessons For 21st Century Nonprofits (at BoardSource October 2010

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Rebecca Masisak and Marnie Webb, Co-CEOs, TechSoup Global …

Rebecca Masisak and Marnie Webb, Co-CEOs, TechSoup Global

Your organization is currently doing critical work in the United States, but you recognize the need to grow its reach and impact internationally. What models should be considered? How do key staff and boards step up to support experimentation and adroitly shape and govern the emerging structures and brand?

Important lessons can be learned from pioneering TechSoup Global. As worldwide demand for its programs grew, TechSoup Global's leadership team and board struggled with developing an organizational model that would mobilize partners around a common mission and include contributions from multiple players. Like most organizations, key considerations included expansion without significant additions in headcount and overhead. Now operating in 33 countries with three distinct boards of directors, TechSoup Global has successfully built a growing global network of locally driven programs.

A showcase of applicable insights, this session explores lessons learned, innovative technologies deployed, organizational models piloted and refined, and how boards influence and model the kind of leadership needed as organizations expand internationally.

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  • Good Morning. I am excited to be able to join you today all the way from San Francisco to share a bit about the TechSoup Global partnership model as a case study in what is possible when private and third sector organizations work effectively together. I hope I’ll make a convincing case that we have been able already to achieve some impressive results, but also spark your creativity a bit about other ways that this model can be leveraged for social good and ultimately digital inclusion.
  • An innovative triple-win business model Charities obtain products, relevant content and support, and a forum for collaboration Corporations gain an effective and efficient distribution channel for CSR activities TechSoup network is sustained by charging a low administrative fee My colleague here in the UK, William Hoyle of Charity Technology Trust recently shared this quote with me from one of your government officials: “ By private sector outsourcing CSR to an organisation that can develop a business model around it, the business offers an opportunity for greater social impact.” A great endorsement of our model, although he didn’t know it at the time.
  • Today we have about 40 donor partnerships – almost all have grown their donation supply, reach and creative engagement significantly over multiple years.
  • In addition to the 133,000 organizations we mentioned earlier and 3700 libraries who have received $2B in product donations, TechSoup has also provided relevant content, where, when and how our user communities need it – a key to effective use of technology: Users from 190 countries access our content, which today is largely in English, each year. Each month, we have 350,000 visitors to our website; 60,000 online forum sessions (a very active forum). Our social web for social innovation community, Netsquared, has an active and diverse community of over 27,000 – geeks, venture capitalists and community activists – fostering innovation in technology for social good. Each month, 7,000 nonprofit avatars continue their work in Second Life Nonprofit Commons, which we established a few years ago. Last year more than 6000 people were trained in a TechSoup Talks webinar. And 155,000 documents were downloaded. This is obviously a market with a lot of demand – but not a market that can be served economically by a standard business – to do so sustainably requires cooperation across private and public sector donors – product, services and cash – and transparency and willingness to share costs and benefits.
  • And, as mentioned, we have partnerships in each country we serve who localize the service, including its name – in the UK, Charity Technology Trust operates Charity Technology Exchange, which fits with a portfolio of services for the charitable sector which leverage corporate relationships.
  • Founded 1993 Annual operating budget $1,500,000 20% budget is grant funded 9 fulltime employees, 5 part time Mission: Our aim is to improve the opportunities for voluntary social work within Sweden trough influencing public opinion, facilitating the exchange of knowledge and introducing new methods of work.
  • The software would prove critical to their ability to serve their members after a strong, 7.2 earthquake struck Christchurch on September 3, 2010.
  • fs
  • Example: NY used meetup to build list and then changed the name Meetup tool is what gives us visibility into the process of the organizers, anything outside of we lose
  • Broader context
  • Transcript

    • 1. November 11, 2010 Expanding Internationally Through Partnerships: Practical Lessons For 21st Century Nonprofits Rebecca Masisak and Marnie Webb Co-CEOs, TechSoup Global BoardSource Leadership Forum
    • 2. TechSoup Global, a nonprofit serving the nonprofit community, has a 23-year history building sector capacity through technology. We are working toward a time when every social benefit organization on the planet has the technology resources and knowledge they need to operate at their full potential. The TechSoup Global Mission: Programs of Focus Today:
    • 3.
      • Corporations gain an effective and efficient distribution channel for product philanthropy and CSR activities
      • Nonprofits obtain products, relevant content, and a community of support
      • The TechSoup Network is sustained by charging a low administrative fee
      TechSoup Corporations Nonprofits An innovative triple-win business model
    • 4. Essential technology from leading partners
    • 5. IMPACT & REACH RESULTS Demonstrated and sustainable impact and reach
      • 133,000 organizations have received product donations
      • More than $2B retail value of products distributed to NGOs
      • 6.6 million technology products distributed
      • 34 countries receive product donations
      • 40+ corporate donor partners
      • 350,000 unique monthly visitors
      • 60,000 monthly online forum visitor sessions
      • 155,000 documents downloaded
      “ Partnering with TechSoup has enabled Cisco to distribute more products to nonprofits in one month than Cisco had expected to distribute in one year.” – Cisco Systems Foundation “ The technology we get from TechSoup is so purposeful; it has so much intent…We probably have tenfold more computers here that we did five years ago and that has enabled us to put computers into the hands of teachers, therapists, and aides in the classroom.” – Kurt Ohlfs, Executive Director, Pacific Autism Center for Education
    • 6. In 2005, corporate donors having experienced Techsoup.org in the U.S. were interested in expanding the service internationally. TechSoup Global Network Partner Model
      • We recognized the need for partners:
        • Knowledge of NGO legal structures
        • Trusted brand for outreach
        • Language, time zone support
        • Localization of programming
      • Leverage assets
      • Control of process
      • Sustainable
      • Sensitive to local issues
      Partner model requirements:
    • 7. TSG added an indirect channel made up of third-party NGO’s, contracted to localize and manage the broad set of TechSoup offerings. = Size indicates impact potential.
      • Mostly direct to NPOs & Charities via web with aggregated resources
        • Community Forums
        • Articles
        • Consulting Resources
      Mostly indirect to NGO’s through TechSoup Global Channel Partner Network – In partnership with TechSoup – products with aggregated resources and, in some cases, enhanced products/services Developing Channel: 5 partners under contract as of June 2006; 11 by FY07 Possible Future Channel Needs-Driven Channel Existing Channel Indirect partnership channels enhance value of “TechSoup Offering” Direct to NGO’s via web site in countries where indirect channel economics are poor
        • One Economy customizes for low-income housers
        • NPower NY customizes for its NPower Basic solution
      North America EMEA, APAC, LATAM Direct Indirect Partner Model as Envisioned in 2006
    • 8. The TechSoup solution packages expertise, process and technical infrastructure so that NGO Partners can relatively quickly and cost effectively deliver a product donation program The Unmet Need: Donated technology to support the missions of nonprofits, charities and NGO’s The Met Need: Donated technology delivered in a supportive environment to effectively impact the missions of nonprofits, charities and NGO’s The TechSoup Value Chain Setup & Train Partners – Enable Local Presence via Web for “TSS-like EMEA Solution” Manage Product Donation Partnerships with Corporate Partner(s) Package Product Offering(s) & Delivery Solution/ Platform Establish & Manage NGO Distribution Partnerships Go Live in Country/ Region and manage program inquiries, provide support and process requests Verify Eligibility of NGOs Using Delivery Solution/ Platform 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Post Fulfillment Support & Returns Processing Fulfill Orders Program Outreach Provide Value-Added Content & Services to Improve Program Impact Manage fulfillment through Corporate Partner 7. 8. 9. 10. 11.
    • 9. With a one-time investment, the existing technical infrastructure established to support the Donation Program in the U.S. and Canada can provide a scalable packaged solution CompuMentor/TechSoup EMEA – TSEMEA Partner NGO (PNGO) Donor
      • Deliver and support online donation delivery solution/platform
        • Extend organization registration, restrictions engine, product catalog, and ‘shopping cart’ functionality to deliver to PNGO’s a version of the TSEMEA web solution that is ready for their branding and localization and has the look and feel of the PNGO’s website
        • Platform would have ability to accept admin fees in local currency and to facilitate content management for localization purposes
        • Packaged solution/platform would also support other corporate donation programs administered by TS and would allow for local services to be offered by the PNGO independently
      • Provide and manage a partner portal that supports collaboration, communication and community between PNGO’s, TSEMEA and MS
      • Package products, online content on product
      • Create and maintain program online content
      • Manage product catalog and service pricing
      • Localize all program online content – language and other adjustments as required to fit local laws, practices and provide input for TSEMEA
      • Localize eligibility requirements in terms of content as well as website restrictions engine and provide input to TSEMEA
      • Provide regular input on solution/platform requirements through Advisory Council
      Package Product Offering(s) & Delivery Solution/ Platform Key Benefits:
      • Quickest, lowest cost, sustainable way to scalable EMEA local donation program
      • Investment ensures majority of ongoing monies generated through program stay in-country
      2.
    • 10. The technology design allows for contribution from Partner NGOs in ways that will build sector capacity in-country that can be shared throughout the network to create value
      • Starting the pilots without having the platform completely ready and while still planning and designing, proved challenging
      • Can be challenging to find the right partners; may have to build
      • Partner NGOs have limited capacity; need for explicit requirements
      • Reducing implementation cost through systems and repeatable processes critical to managing program success
      • Developing marketing/outreach plans and sharing resources throughout the network important to success
      • Communications plans critical as early as possible due to the level of coordination required
      • Leveraging existing resources and ‘kitting’ materials on the program keys to reducing cycle time and improving quality of rollouts
      • The model works!
      Learnings
    • 11. The TechSoup Global Network is a sustainable, cross-border network of partner NGOs serving 33 countries. United Kingdom Russia Mexico
    • 12.
      • Donation Programs: Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States.
      Today, TechSoup Global’s international programs provide tools and resources to organizations across five continents.
      • Users in 190 countries visit TSG sites and participate in its online communities.
      • Monthly NetSquared events in 78+ cities in 25 countries worldwide.
    • 13. Partner Profile: National Forum for Voluntary Social Work, TechSoup Sverige
      • Partner Profile:
      • Founded 1993
      • Annual budget of $1.5M
      • 9 full-time employees, 5 part-time
      • Platform for the exchange of knowledge & volunteering
      • Focused on Sweden, but excellent network within the EU
    • 14. End recipient: Remote Access Proves Critical to Cystic Fibrosis Association of New Zealand “ I’m working from home today because of the earthquake and that’s only possible because of Small Business Server 2003 and Office Professional Plus 2007 that we received from Microsoft and TechSoup. It’s a huge boon for our organization, allowing the CEO and fieldworkers access to our data when they’re away from the office.” Cystic Fibrosis is NZ's most common life-threatening inherited disease and the CF Association is the only national organization dedicated to all aspects of the condition.
    • 15. NetSquared originated in 2005 to address the opportunities of Web 2.0 for nonprofits and by 2006 its NetTuesday meet-ups were expanding to other cities NetTuesday Organizer Network NetTuesdays:  A model to enable local groups to meet, share, collaborate, and create social change
      • Volunteer, Activist Led
      • Freedom to develop organically and discover results
      • Hyper-local; face-to-face
      • Sustainable
      Partner model requirements:
    • 16. Today, NetSquared Locals are held in 78 cities in 25 countries connected to an active online community of 27,300 members
    • 17. Founding President and CEO of i-Vission International; an International NGO with headquarters in Douala Cameroon. The mission of the organisation is to empower computer literacy and break the digital divide between the North and the South. Graduate, holder of a Certificate on Conflict Analysis from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and Information System Engineer by profession.   Excel is convinced that we are in the information age, and whosoever is not informed is deformed. He is motivated and dedicated in empowering people with the ICT. His top priority for 2009/2010 is to setup a network in Cameroon, to combat cyber crimes.   In a nut shell, Excel will like to meet new people and organisations who have the ambition to live in a more secure and just world, and possess the required passion to make it happen. Douala, Cameroon Asama Abel Excel Chicago, IL, USA Justin Massa Justin's time is split between NetSquared.org (where he is the Program and Technical Coordinator) and MoveSmart.org (where he is the executive director)). MoveSmart.org, which he co-founded, is a start-up organization dedicated to fostering vibrant and diverse neighborhoods by empowering housing seekers through technology to move to opportunity. Justin is a member of the National Advisory Board of NeighborScapes, the Reader's Bureau of the   Chicago Reporter , and the Program Committee of the  Community Media Workshop. He is also a co-convener of  Chicago Net Tuesdays  and helps organize  Illinois Data Exchange Affiliates. Organizer Profiles
    • 18. We learned from the successes of NetSquared.
      • What we did well:
        • Allowed organizers to be stars
        • Hands off approach to sponsorships allowed local connections to be built
        • Let organizers control the agenda, allowed local relevance (Cameroon vs D.C.)
        • Didn’t expect to last forever, location has to own it
        • Recognized stars from NetSquared challenges and sparked NetSquared Local
    • 19. We learned from the challenges of NetSquared.
      • We could have provided more tools to the organizers so that we could better measure impact.
      • We could have better used our organizational outreach and relationships to help bring visibility to NetSquared.
      • We could have created a maturity model for partnerships.
    • 20. In the article “Scaling Social Impact”, Dees describes three mechanisms for scaling impact.
      • Dissemination
        • Actively provides information, sometimes technical assistance to others looking to bring an innovation to their community
      • Affiliation
        • Formal relationship defined by an ongoing agreement to be a part of an identified network.
      • Branching
        • Creation of local sites through one large organization.
      Source: Scaling Social Impact Dees, Battle Anderson and Wie-skillern Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2004
    • 21. Mechanisms for scaling impact Dissemination Affiliation Branching Source: Dees, Battle Anderson and Wie-skillern , 2004 Resources Degree of Central Coordination
    • 22. TSG began by scaling its impact through two mechanisms TechSoup Global Network NetTuesday Organizers Resources Degree of Central Coordination Dissemination Affiliation Branching
    • 23. And TSG continues to scale and evolve its model Fundacja TechSoup GuideStar International Resources Degree of Central Coordination Dissemination Affiliation Branching TechSoup Global Network NetTuesday Organizers GuideStar International Partners
    • 24. Contribution Economy: Spotlight on Romania
      • Collaboration with Cisco Networking Academy for IT Mentor Program throughout Romania
      • Donations program
      • Computer Refurbishing Program
      • NetSquared Locals and social media trainings
      • Indigenous volunteering and philanthropy programs
      • Exploring mobile phone donation platform
    • 25. Current challenges and opportunities
      • Providing support/Managing expectations
      • “ Marrying”/Rationalizing both programs
      • Branding
    • 26. Implications for Board roles
      • Promote experimentation
      • Focus on requirements for choosing the right model
      • Help think about sustainability options
        • Earned income models
        • Funding
        • Low investment
      • Tolerate failure as an opportunity to learn
      • Encourage open discussion and honest assessment
    • 27.