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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
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
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
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.