Safe and secure technology: part of responsible nonprofit service delivery

North Kootenay Lake Community Services Society is a nonprofit, multi-service organization that responds to local needs, serving members of the community at all ages and stages. Their programs and services range from activities for kids to parent support, outreach and counselling, a food cupboard and an emergency call button for elderly or ill people living alone. For the Society, keeping technology up to date is more than a matter of efficiency; it’s an important part of protecting their clients.

North Kootenay Lake Community Services Society Food Bank


“As an organization supporting vulnerable members of the local community, we have a responsibility to operate with safe, secure and current technology,” says Heather Hamilton, Office Manager and IT at the Society. “For example, we provide refuge for women in abusive relationships and counselling for people struggling with addictions. It’s critical that we do what’s necessary to keep our computers secure and protect the confidentiality of our clients’ information.”

Heather, who is responsible for all things technology-related at the Society, obtains their software via the TechSoup Canada Technology Donations Program. One of the first things she obtained after signing up with TechSoup Canada almost 15 years ago was Norton AntiVirus by Symantec. And while security software is essential, there was an even more fundamental need that Heather sought to address. Within the Society, staff members were using different and often incompatible digital systems. This was hurting productivity and ultimately hindering the Society's ability to serve its members. Heather needed to bridge the gaps by standardizing her organization's digital infrastructure.

Too many versions of the same software, too many problems

“When I first arrived, we had a mish-mash of old computers, each with different versions of operating systems and applications,” explains Heather. “No one else was comfortable with technology and I was quickly becoming the go-to person; having to remember how to deal with something in three or four different versions of software was extremely inefficient.” 

TechSoup Canada membership allowed Heather to upgrade everyone in the office to the same versions of their operating system as well as Microsoft Office and Adobe applications. They immediately started to save time and energy that had been previously directed toward managing systems and processes that weren’t working. They were able to buy new computers while saving thousands of dollars on software.

Staying ahead of updates to ensure secure systems

The education and information from TechSoup Canada - including regular communication about what software is available, how to use it and how to stay up to date – is another significant benefit. As an example, Heather points to a circumstance a few years ago, when support for Window XP was ending. This caused significant problems for other local nonprofits that had put upgrades on the backburner. However, thanks to TechSoup Canada's learning resources, the Society had known about the change for months and had long since upgraded to Windows 7.

“If you rely on using old software, you’ll pay one day." 

"If you rely on using old software, you’ll pay one day. Either you won’t be able to do what you need to do, or suddenly you’ll find your software is a security risk, or you’ll have to pay for a sudden upgrade. Signing up for TechSoup Canada is a no-brainer; the savings are huge, and it’s easy to use,” says Heather.  

“We’re here to contribute to a thriving community and enhance the quality of life for North Kootenay Lake residents. Providing good service means protecting client information and doing what’s necessary to keep our computers secure. It’s not something any service organization should take lightly.”

Does your charity, nonprofit or library need help getting the right software? Start by creating your user account to find out what your organization qualifies to access through our Technology Donations Program.

Marlene OliveiraThis case study is part of a series written by Marlene Oliveira, who is a copywriting and communications consultant at

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