Software up for grabs

Over a year down the track it’s good to news to hear the TechSoup New Zealand programme racking up a substantial number of software donations.

At a function at Te Papa last night jointly hosted by TechSoup New Zealand’s local partner, NZFVWO, Barnardos and Microsoft, there was a fair bit of hoopla about the volume of donations. Some 288 organsations (subject to fact checking) have received donated software since the programme started in July 2008.

The main focus of the cocktail function was on a big donation by Microsoft to Barnardos.

Murray Etheridge, Barnardos CEO, was radiantly postive as he acknowledged the $1.4 million donation. The gift comprises software, along with technical support and I think someone mentioned cash as well. Whether this is a one-off or an example of a new partnering drive by the multinational software giant wasn’t mentioned.

Four other organsations which have substantially benefited from the TechSoup New Zealand programme were highlighted in a short video.

One of these is the Mangere East Family Service Centre. I first met the Centre’s director Peter Sykes when we were both studying social policy at Massey University.

He says the software donation means “for the first time in 15 years all our computers can talk to each other with common operating system”. Peter wants technology to be ubiquitous and essentially invisible to his staff so they can focus on doing the stuff they need to, which means talking with people. In the past, staff have spent be frustrated and distracted by computers getting in the way, rather than supporting their work.

Despite being an ideal time to alert people to an expansion of the range of software products available through TechSoup New Zealand, there was no mention of any forthcoming sources of software donations. I’ve since learned some other suppliers of software will soon be added to the list.

While Prime Minister John Key only talked about the corporate side of things, NZFVWO’s Tina Reid really emphasised the spirit of partnership and community building that sits behind TechSoup New Zealand. In it’s first year it’s off to a great start, with more to come.

BTW: Tech savvy John Key hasn’t yet shared his speech notes (perhaps because he realised after talking he made a slight ommission – he blatantly avoided any references to co-hosts NZFVWO) nor issued a tweet to his 5,982 followers (see JohnKeyPM).