GuideStar International's Blog

December 7, 2012

Thoughts on Big Data for NGOs from the OECD Technology Foresight Forum

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 13:26

OCED logo_0The Internet Society recently named TechSoup Global Communications Manager Keisha Taylor as one of two Fellows to participate in the 2012 Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Technology Foresight Forum held in Paris October 22, 2012. The Forum focused on the topic of “Harnessing Big Data as a New Source of Growth”. She  spoke about big data and its relationship to Internet governance and development at an Internet Technical Advisory Committee to the OECD (ITAC) meeting, which was also held in Paris  She was interviewed by TechSoup Global about the Forum and her thoughts on what she learned about what “Big Data” might have for NGOs.  Read the Interview

October 2, 2012

Cross-Border Philanthropy Grows Up as U.S. Treasury and IRS Rules Reduce Barriers to International Philanthropy

By Keisha Taylor

Giving overseas can be tedious and costly given the complexity of a vast and diverse global civil society sector. Charities, NPOs, NGOs, community-based organisations, foundations, and associations all work for social benefit, but are called and categorised differently depending on country. This can create complications for funders and donors wanting to give. Knowledge of the regulatory framework, the inner workings of the NGO, how best the NGO will be able to put resources to use, and even what help is needed to build capacity is often lacking.

This is why the announcement on 24 September that the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the IRS have recommended a significant change in the process for determining whether a foreign nongovernmental organization (NGO) meets U.S. standards for charitable giving is indeed an important one. Rules regarding the process of evaluating whether a non-U.S. NGO is equivalent to a U.S. public non-profit have not changed for 20 years.  In “Reliance Standards for Making Good Faith Determinations,” published in the Federal Register, Treasury and the IRS proposed regulations to lessen the administrative and financial burdens for U.S. grantmakers to engage in international philanthropy.

The  U.S. recently joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) to help make global development finance more open, shareable, standardized, and transparent. Similarly the proposed regulations also take us another step closer to building better and more streamlined grantmaking standards for NGOs worldwide. This can help to increase the effectiveness of cross-border philanthropy.

The U.S. has a long history of institutional philanthropy, —both corporations, government, and the American people have donated billions to causes not only in the U.S., but also overseas.  A look at the National Trust’s Chronological history of Philanthropy in America, shows that as far back as 1601, a Statute of Charitable Uses, enacted by Parliament became the cornerstone of Anglo-American law of philanthropy. The recent announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the Treasury and IRS rule changes is a milestone for global grantmaking.

Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks at the Global Philanthropy Working Group Launch

Today the U.S. gives the most in Overseas Development Aid (ODA). While this refers to government as donor, thousands of corporations and millions of citizens have also provided money and resources overseas. However, in today’s recession stricken world, the way aid is given is being turned on its head. While the United States continues to be the largest donor by volume with net ODA flows of 30.7 US billion in 2011 (this represented a fall of -0.9% in real terms from 2010).

Governments, corporations, and citizens want to know more about the institutions they want to give to, and wish to avoid waste and corruption in foreign aid. The quantity and quality of NGO aid is not always held to account. While no two NGOs are the same, knowing more about the NGOs that receive overseas aid and its equivalence to U.S. NGOs will be a big help for accountability efforts.

Secretary Clinton noted in her remarks that the regulatory changes clear the way for the establishment of organizations that can serve as repositories for equivalency determinations. The Council of Foundations and TechSoup Global have been working together to create such a repository, called NGOsource, which they hope to launch as soon as possible. Today the equivalency determination (ED) process differs from grantmaker to grantmaker, is very costly (each ED can cost between $5,000 to $10,000) and if done improperly, may lead to inconsistent and subjective findings. NGOsource will make it easier and more affordable to evaluate whether a non-U.S. organisation is equivalent to a U.S. public charity through a centralized, streamlined, and standardized ED process.

Rebecca Masisak, co-CEO of TechSoup Global has said “Secretary Clinton’s announcement and the IRS guidance support a shared cross-sector vision of ways to reduce redundancy and lower costs and are a welcome signal from the government to grantmakers and their grantees.”
While Sheila Warren, director of NGOsource for TechSoup Global and an attorney with expertise on tax-exempt law said “The IRS guidance is an encouraging building block for the development of an equivalency determination repository that will enable private foundations to identify and grant to overseas NGOs with greater confidence and ease.”

This will undoubtedly take us one step closer to more effective cross-border philanthropy. This is especially important in today’s data-driven world where more transparent, reliable, and streamlined processes are needed to make it easier to realise social benefit globally.

You can read the entire press release on the announcement here.

Hear from experts about this issue at two upcoming events. On 4 October, the D.C. Bar will host a panel discussion in-person and via webinar. On 5 October, experts — including Sheila Warren, director of NGOsource for TechSoup Global — will discuss the rule change in a conference call briefing.

You can also receive updates about regulatory decisions affecting international grantmaking and about NGOsource by signing up online at

September 14, 2012

Global Cloud Computing Survey on NGOs – 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 13:41
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In 2012, TechSoup Global and its network of partners conducted a survey of NGOs, nonprofits, and charities around the world. The goal was to better understand the current state of their tech infrastructure and their future plans for adopting cloud technologies.

TechSoup Global received answers from more than 10,500 respondents in 88 countries and this data adds to its ever-evolving resources for NGOs, foundations, and the nonprofit community. This extensive study, the first of its kind has also been translated into 18 languages. Its compulsory reading for anyone wanting to understand the needs of NGOs around the work in relation to tech and cloud computing. Click here to read it.

July 23, 2012

Technology, Data, and Indian Nonprofits: Enabling Philanthropy

By Keisha Taylor, communications manager at  TechSoup Global & for its GuideStar International program. This was first posted on the blog

 Technology product donations, training, and nonprofit data are all part of TechSoup Global’s offering to civil society in India. Our BigTech program is run by our local partner, the NASSCOM Foundation in India. And the GuideStar India program was launched by our partner, Civil Society Information Systems (CSIS) India, through our GuideStar International program.

Nonprofits throughout India are now benefiting by getting high visibility and access to information and technology for their work.

 According to the Indian Central Statistical Office, there are 3.3 million NGOs in India. While the estimated number of operational NGOs is about one-third of that, there is little transparency on their activity.

GuideStar India is increasing the visibility of the nonprofit sector to multiple stakeholders by providing reliable information on more than 2,500 NGOs. It is also encouraging nonprofits to become better at reporting on their activities. GuideStar India is connecting the nonprofits on their site with those who need their help or want to lend support.

For example, the Surf Excel India’s Back to School Campaign reached out to needy children who go to learning centers and schools run by NGOs. Their Facebook campaign page engaged more than 800,000 fans during the campaign and sensitized them to the needs of poor children.

Their posts on Facebook also highlighted how fans could easily make a difference. The campaign gave exposure to 168 NGOs and raised 125,000 rupees in addition to in-kind donations.

GuideStar India put the Surf Excel team in touch with Child Survival India to provide essential teaching and reading materials to schoolchildren. The materials were donated by another school run by one of their Facebook fans.

Nonprofits in India are realizing that putting up their data voluntarily on GuideStar India can bring them resources and capacity-building opportunities. And donors and institutions looking for nonprofits find it convenient and efficient to access nonprofit information and connections through GuideStar India.

According to Fatima Lawrence, president of Lakkasandra Ashwini Mahila Sangha, a nonprofit featured on GuideStar India, “Opportunity knocks at your door only once, but GuideStar India knocks at your door again and again until you grab the opportunity!”

GuideStar India is also helping NGOs take advantage of the BigTech program and NASSCOM Foundation’s supportive technology activities.

Usha Pillai, chairperson of the IDEA Foundation, said, “Soon after being a part of GuideStar India, we got to attend an IT workshop conducted by NASSCOM Foundation. Our presence on the GuideStar India and a social networking site has helped us to get an industry donor looking for a small NGO. It is a phenomenal long-term value from GuideStar India to a small NGO like ours within a few months.”

Technology donations have also transformed nonprofit operations. The Hunger Project India helps those affected by hunger and victimized by social suppression in six Indian states. To help sustain their activities, they rely on accurate data monitoring and reporting.

However, data processing and collaboration were difficult because they used non-licensed and outdated software. Absence of effective antivirus applications slowed their computers, and there was limited uniformity and standardization in their infrastructure.

The Hunger Project India registered for and received a BigTech donation of Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Upgrade, Office Professional Plus 2010, and QuickHeal antivirus software.

Today, they use Microsoft Access for their data evaluation and database management. Microsoft Excel helps in preparation of their financial reports and accounting. Moreover, Quick Heal antivirus eliminated the viruses and resulted in a faster and more efficient functioning of the organization.

Bharani Sundarajan, program officer at The Hunger Project, said, “Participating in the BigTech program has had a positive outcome as it helped us maintain uniform and streamlined operations, along with being a time and energy saver. We are thrilled to be associated with it.”

Through its partners in India, TechSoup Global’s support to Indian NGOs is helping them to use and benefit from technology. Data on Indian nonprofits is also proving invaluable for visibility, transparency, and effectiveness of the sector.

June 27, 2012

Guardian Reports on TechSoup Global/Guardian Charity Data Seminar

Big data, open data, charity reporting and crowdsourcing were the order of the day at the recent Transforming your charity by bringing your data to life seminar that TechSoup Global hosted in collaboration with The Guardian. Today, the Guardian published an article about the seminar in their paper, titled: Getting to Grips with Big Data which gives a report of the seminar. The article focuses on why charities should start using ‘big data’ and ‘open data’ for the benefit of their communities. Also discussed were some of the difficulties charities face in knowing what tools to use, and understanding what data they should provide and collect to save money, be more effective and help the public. Videos of 2 of the speaker presentations are available (the other 2 will be posted next week) and you can find a copy of all presentations below.

Some key highlights:
Marnie Webb, Co-CEO and Paul van Haver, Director of Global Services of TechSoup Global Data Services highlighted the need for charities to help transform the way they engage with and service their community through the use of data. Watch the VIDEO! Presentation: We are “Big Data” (and so can you!)

We are “Big Data” (and so can you!)

View more PowerPoint from GuideStarintl

Dave Coplin, Director of Search, Bing, spoke about how big data is transforming how businesses are making decisions, the way it is being used for the popular Kinect, as well as the privacy issues. Watch the Video! Presentation: Big Data, Machine Learning and You

Karl Wilding of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) spoke of the work that the NCVO is doing to provide charity data and gain insights to the sector. He also spoke of the struggle to find sustainable ways to provide data openly. Presentation: Data @NCVO

Nathaniel Manning, Director of Business Development and Strategy at Ushahidi illustrated how they use crowdsourcing, big data and the opensource tools they have developed to help with disaster relief, political accountability and other development issues. Mobile phones were identified as one of the key ways that data is provided and collected in developing countries. Presentation: Ushahidi: Made in Africa

We are also hosting an international tweetchat on charities and data on Wednesday 27 June to discuss topics from the seminar on 10:00 a.m. Pacific time / 6:00 p.m. British Summer Time (BST). You can follow in our tweetchat room and comment on the article, seminar, presentations and tweetchat on twitter using #npdata.


June 12, 2012

Upcoming International Tweet Chat on June 27: Data

Filed under: Access to information — guidestarinternational @ 16:51
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As we posted earlier, TechSoup Global  is hosting a seminar titled “Transforming Your Charity by Bringing Your Data to Life” in conjunction with the Guardian.

To keep this exciting conversation going, we are also producing a tweet chat on Wednesday, June 27 at 6:00 pm London time. The tweet chat is designed to spark an international conversation, spanning multiple time zones.

Join us on Twitter or on using the hashtag #npdata.

The conversation will focus on the power of data and how it can be used to achieve the objectives of nonprofits, charities, libraries, and other civil society organisations. Participants will be able to ask questions and share knowledge around what relevant data they can share to benefit their organizations and the social good sector.

How to Participate

  • Join us directly in the TweetChat room to follow along with the conversation
  • Participate in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #npdata

Have questions about data you want to see answered during the tweet chat? Tweet them to @TechSoup and include the hashtag #npdata.

Never participated in a tweet chat before? Check out this how-to in TechSoup’s Nonprofit Social Media 101 Wiki and watch the video below.

May 30, 2012

Transforming your charity by bringing your data to life

Filed under: CSO reporting — guidestarinternational @ 09:30
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TechSoup Global in association with the Guardian are hosting an exciting seminar titled “Transforming your charity by bringing your data to life” on Wednesday 13 June 2012 (8.45am-12.30pm). It will focus on the use of Data and Technology in the charity sector. The seminar will discuss the power of data and how it can be used to progress the objectives of charities and NGOs.

Speakers include: Dave Coplin, Director of Search, Bing, Karl Wilding of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and Nathaniel Manning, Director of Business Development and Strategy at Ushahidi

You can find the agenda here: Agenda: Transforming your charity by bringing your data to life

In essence, participants will be able to explore what relevant data they can share to benefit their organisation and the charitable sector. They will also hear from individuals who have successfully accessed and deployed technology and big datasets in their organisation. A more detailed agenda can be found here.

The event will be held at the Guardian’s London headquarters located at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU in association with TechSoup Global

TechSoup Global is an international non-profit, founded in 1987 on the belief that both technology & data are powerful enablers for social change, driving the creation of innovative solutions and informed decision making.


This is an invitation only event.


The findings of the seminar will then feature as a one-page article in the newspaper and online on the Guardian Voluntary Sector Network.


April 30, 2012

Building Better Solutions Together, Faster

Filed under: ICT for Development — guidestarinternational @ 12:56
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You’ve probably heard about hackathons, but have you heard of the ‘Weekend Movement’? Glenn Fajardo at TechSoup Global talks about the Weekend movement that is gathering steam in Malaysia in a recent Stanford Social Innovation Review post. It is describes it as “a community of people that builds crafty projects and innovative solutions to real-world problems over weekends.” So you can imagine that though hacking is a part of it, this is much more that a data hackathon. There are Makeweekends  and Changeweekends too. It is another example of how communities, nonprofits, and the technical community can work together to solve pressing problems. You can read more it the post in the SSIR review here. Please feel free to comment!

March 23, 2012

Tell Us About Your Technology

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 12:20
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ImageTechSoup Global wants to learn more about how your organisation uses traditional and cloud-based technology and about your plans for the future.

Be heard! This is your chance to tell us what you need.  Take our survey – it’s short, only 10 minutes, and intended for anyone who has responsibility for recommending, purchasing or managing IT products or services at an NGO including nonprofits, charities, libraries, foundations or similar organizations. All ranges of IT influencers are invited — from accidental techies to IT directors.

By better understanding the tools you currently use and your future plans, we can work with our partners around the world to provide nonprofits like yours the technology resources they need to operate at their full potential.

The survey closes March 23 so please don’t miss out on your chance to tell us about your IT needs.

What are we doing with the results?

In late spring, we’ll publish a white paper with the survey results detailing the responses of nonprofits based in the United States and in 37 countries around the world. The results will support organisations like yours in making informed IT decisions. They will provide insights into how your peers are using technology and into the currents needs and issues around adopting cloud technologies.

If you’re interested in receiving a report on the survey findings, be sure to provide your email address at the end of the survey. We’ll send you the white paper when it’s finished in late spring and it’ll be available for free on our site.

March 5, 2012

Uncertain about how to report and share your nonprofit’s data?

Filed under: Uncategorized — guidestarinternational @ 16:29
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Join TechSoup’s webinar on March 8, at 11 a.m. Pacific time, Explore, Report, and Share Your Data Online, to find out the answers to your data sharing questions.

Register today as space is limited!

SAP and Business Objects BI OnDemand

During this free, one-hour webinar, we will be hearing from SAP’s Steve Williams and Saurabh Abhyankar about issues surrounding data and reporting. We will talk about possible solutions, culminating in a closer look at SAP’s product, Business Objects BI OnDemand.

What is Business Objects BI OnDemand? It is a cloud-based business intelligence application which supports multiple data formats to help you understand how your organization is performing.

Nonprofit Questions About Data Reporting

Want to hear concerns that real nonprofits have about implementing data reporting tools? In preparation for this webinar, we have reached out to organizations using BI OnDemand. These organizations have shared their concerns with us, and we will in turn be addressing them during the webinar.

If you have questions of your own, feel free to email those questions to or post them in the comments below. You will also have additional opportunities to ask questions during the webinar.

This free one-hour webinar is presented in cooperation with SAP, a donor partner of TechSoup Global, and is appropriate for technology decision makers in nonprofits.

We will be having a follow-up webinar on this topic specificially geared to our international audiences. That registration information will be available in April.

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