Eleven years ago, when Wesley Chenery took on the role of IT specialist at the Alberta South Regional Office of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) the computers were old and the software was either extremely outdated or in some cases, completely missing.
Wesley began to research ways the team could access the software they needed to do their jobs. “The application process for donations directly from software companies was far too cumbersome for us,” Wesley reflects.“Luckily, I discovered TechSoup Canada, who seemed to recognize the resource-strapped context in which nonprofits operate. I just had to complete a basic form and provide supporting documentation. The very next day, I was able to access their programs and review the catalogue of software for which we are eligible.”
Wesley started by updating the office computers with current versions of Microsoft Windows and Office, adding programs such as Office 365, Microsoft Exchange Server, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat Pro over the years.
Better security, more efficient processes
Software from TechSoup Canada has improved many aspects of the organization’s back-end systems. Having correctly licensed every computer, Wesley has been able to more accurately track each machine, its license expirations and service needs. The upgraded software also gave Wesley the ability to address security concerns through data and hard drive encryption.
“The software we accessed through TechSoup Canada also benefits us as an accredited agency,” says Deb Chenery, CMHA Alberta South Region’s Executive Director.
“With Office 365 One Drive, we can streamline our paperwork with staff, which is much more secure than transferring physical paperwork. We were also able to create a website for our accreditation, providing each reviewer with online access to all of the necessary documents. This makes accreditation quicker and we have set a standard with our accrediting body for using tech to set up a more efficient, secure process.”
According to Wesley, membership in TechSoup Canada has saved the organization over $120,000 and countless hours of staff time. In his role as the backup accountant, Wesley offers a remarkable before-and-after: year-end reporting used to take him three solid seven-day weeks of 12-hour days. After upgrading their Microsoft Office, he gets the job done in one regular week.
Software savings have led to enhanced client services
Deb points out that they are directing software savings back to the clients they serve:
“Because of software donations, we’ve been able to save money and buy better computers for each of our sites. Clients no longer have to bring in their own laptops or go to the library, they can stay at our sites and use our computers to work on their resumes and complete medical forms, for example.”
Having access to Adobe Acrobat Pro has helped to improve CMHA Alberta South Region’s Community Links Booklet; a directory of community resources in Lethbridge. Wesley and Deb explain that the booklet has recently moved from a physical, printed booklet that is distributed in person and updated every 6-12 months to a digital version. The digital format is easier to update as needed, more easily accessible to community members, dramatically cheaper to produce and measuring reach (number of downloads) is easier.
“As a mental health agency, we are focused on the individuals we serve,” says Deb. “The donations and discounted software from TechSoup Canada directly and positively impact the quality of services we can offer our clients.”
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.
This case study is part of a series written by Marlene Oliveira, who is a copywriting and communications consultant at moflow.ca.