How Carnegie Corporation of New York Got Microsoft Donations Through TechSoup
Monday, April 2, 2012
Posted by: Lisa Pool
Carnegie Corporation's Loretta Harris recently found out how strangely easy it is to get Microsoft donations through TechSoup. Once she registered it was easy to keep coming back.
Now that more and more 501(c)(3) private foundations are discovering that they are eligible for Microsoft donations through TechSoup, it may help to hear how one foundation's director of information technology got the software she needed.
I had a chance to chat with Loretta Harris of Carnegie Corporation of New York to find out about her experience registering with TechSoup and getting Microsoft donations this week. Loretta leads a staff of three IT people who, in turn, serve 85 staff people at the foundation. She is also on the board of the Technology Affinity Group (TAG).
TAG is a membership organization composed of foundation techies who share information about their work in the philanthropy sector. It has great discussion boards, hosts webinars, provides Gartner IT research, and organizes a big annual conference. Loretta actually found out about the new Microsoft donation eligibility rules for foundations through a TAG webinar in January. The TAG community has long been interested in finding in-kind donations like nonprofits have.
Here is some of what we talked about:
Jim: How hard was it for you to register and apply for a Microsoft donation on TechSoup?
Loretta: I attended the TAG webinar, so it was easy to register and apply for my first donation even though some time had passed since I got directions on how to do it. Once I got to the website and registered, I clicked on "Products" and ended up using "Browse by Partner" list on the left side of the page. I clicked on "Microsoft" and quickly found what I needed. I made the request, got the confirmation email, and then downloaded our licenses.
Jim: What donations did you end up applying for?
Loretta: We first got 20 Windows Remote Desktop Services User Cal licenses. After that I went back and got four copies of Windows 7 Professional that we'll use to create virtual desktops. Then today, I went back again got some SQL Server licenses.
Re-published from a TechSoup article dated March 2012
I did have some questions about some things and found that the TechSoup frequently asked questions are very good. I was able to find the information I needed there. Whoever built your database also did a nice job. I know IT people rarely hear that. I was able to easily see what donations we are eligible for and which we aren't.
Jim: What's the difference in using the TechSoup site compared with how you normally got software?
Loretta: I like TechSoup because the licensing choices are geared to small- and medium-sized offices and it is very simple compared with the online retail vendors I usually use. I thought there must be some kind of catch because getting our Microsoft licenses was so simple. Understanding all the different licensing choices is one of my IT headaches. Also of course the Microsoft donations have saved us lots of money.
Jim: I hope you don't mind my asking but is saving money a big deal for foundations? I mean… don't foundations have plenty of funding?
Loretta: I have an IT budget and I need to fit within it. Many people think that private foundations have unlimited funds, but our mission is to provide grants to nonprofits out of our endowment rather than spend our money on office expenses and overhead.
Jim: Is there anything else out there like TechSoup for foundations?
Loretta: Some software vendors give foundations 501(c)(3) discounts, but there is no uniform discount arrangement. I love getting the Microsoft software donations from TechSoup. It's simple.