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Sabtu, 25 Februari 2012

Reaching out to NGOs

Hadi Mahmud


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Brunei Darussalam Red Crescent Society volunteers demonstrating first aid skills. NGOs can be more effective in providing relief and support for the public with the help of technology resources.Picture: BT/Jin Shen

BACK in July, Brunei's nonprofits revelled in the news of an aid scheme aimed at supporting some of its operational costs.

While relishing renewed government support, announced during His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam's 65th birthday celebrations, NGOs still face growing demands for more effective contributions to the community.

The National Disaster Management Centre last month acknowledged the role of nonprofits as government's "key partners" in carrying out disaster relief activities, drawing participation from the Brunei Darussalam Red Crescent Society and the Brunei Four Wheel Association for its community-based disaster risk management programme.

The Red Crescent's first aid assistance capabilities, along with the Four Wheel Association's far-reaching capacity to access remote disaster-hit areas, will prove invaluable to government efforts in providing relief and support for the public.

Increasing recognition of NGOs' integral roles in areas such as disaster management, helping the disadvantaged, environmental conservation and spurring economic development means nonprofits need to be better equipped to handle future tasks.

This is where appropriate application of technology comes in. Having technology resources and know-how can exponentially amplify the impact of nonprofits and civil society organisations, and more importantly enable them to operate at their full potential.

Enter TechSoup Asia. First launched in Singapore and more recently Malaysia, the programme benefits NGO sectors in both countries by allowing players access to donated technology products from Microsoft, Symantec (the largest maker of security software) and SAP (a market leader in enterprise application software designed to manage business operations and customer relations).

Run by and for nonprofits, the Asian branch of the San Francisco-based international NGO launched its programme in Malaysia during Microsoft's Accelerating Asia Pacific 2011 summit in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, which will see donated and discounted technology products delivered to qualifying nonprofit organisations through a simple online application process.

Recipients pay a small administrative fee to cover handling costs. A one-time-only registration is needed to get access to products from Microsoft, Symantec and SAP, as well as future donors. On top of that, TechSoup Asia will be adding additional content in the coming months to help NGOs make informed decisions about their technology plans.

Rather than contacting Microsoft directly, NGOs will work directly with TechSoup Asia to review and request the software they need. TechSoup Asia replaces the current Microsoft donations programme for small-to mid-sized nonprofit charitable organisations.

Including Malaysia, the programme has now been rolled-out in 38 countries, benefiting more than 40,000 NGOs worldwide. Needless to say, the inclusion of Brunei-based NGOs in this programme would bring them immense advantages, and the country as a whole.

We're still awaiting a response from TechSoup Asia on how and whether Bruneian nonprofits can join.

The Brunei Times-->

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