|FROM ||Ray Connolly
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] we have some competition...
|From owner-hangout-desteny-at-mrbrklyn.com Wed Oct 23 12:58:03 2002
Received: from www2.mrbrklyn.com (localhost [127.0.0.1]) by mrbrklyn.com (8.12.3/8.11.2/SuSE Linux 8.11.1-0.5) with ESMTP id g9NGw3f0006148 for ; Wed, 23 Oct 2002 12:58:03 -0400
Received: (from mdom-at-localhost) by www2.mrbrklyn.com (8.12.3/8.12.3/Submit) id g9NGw3dk006147 for hangout-desteny; Wed, 23 Oct 2002 12:58:03 -0400
X-Authentication-Warning: www2.mrbrklyn.com: mdom set sender to owner-hangout-at-www2.mrbrklyn.com using -f
Received: from nsmail1.natsource.com ([18.104.22.168]) by mrbrklyn.com (8.12.3/8.11.2/SuSE Linux 8.11.1-0.5) with ESMTP id g9NGw3f0006142 for ; Wed, 23 Oct 2002 12:58:03 -0400
Received: by nsmail1.natsource.com with Internet Mail Service (5.5.2653.19) id ; Wed, 23 Oct 2002 12:58:00 -0400
From: Ray Connolly
Subject: [hangout] we have some competition...
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 12:58:00 -0400
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2653.19)
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Reply-To: Ray Connolly
List: New Yorkers Linux Scene
Admin: To unsubscribe send unsubscribename-at-domian.com to hangout-request-at-www2.mrbrklyn.com
New York Times
October 21, 2002
A Boon for Nonprofits With Software Needs
By LAURIE J. FLYNN
AN FRANCISCO, Oct. 20 - If these are lean times for corporate information
technology purchasers, what is the situation for nonprofit groups that need
new hardware or software? Surprisingly good, as it turns out.
Despite the moribund information technology economy, the nonprofit sector
may actually be benefiting from the slump - as companies like Microsoft see
donations as a way of helping keep their products in widespread use, and as
large numbers of otherwise unemployed hardware and software professionals
demonstrate a new willingness to take jobs in the nonprofit community.
At the Family Stress Center, a county-financed nonprofit family services
agency in Concord, Calif., Paul Bongiovanni has the task of continually
updating the computer system that keeps the agency running.
That is a challenge because the center serves 7,000 clients a year
throughout sprawling Contra Costa County, 30 miles east of San Francisco.
The agency, which offers programs for the prevention and treatment of child
abuse, operates on a budget of only about $2 million. And with 70 or so
full- and part-time counselors and administrators to pay, that leaves little
left to spend on the latest version of Windows software, say, or on
installing additional high-speed Internet lines.
But through a relatively new online software store for nonprofit
organizations called DiscounTech, Mr. Bongiovanni, the center's business
manager, is able to buy leading software like Norton Antivirus and Microsoft
Office XP for about 10 percent of the original retail price. That means
instead of paying the $500 or so he might spend on each copy of the
Microsoft Office XP suite of word-processing, scheduling, spreadsheet and
other applications, Mr. Bongiovanni pays only a $60 administrative fee to
CompuMentor, the nonprofit organization in San Francisco that created
DiscounTech. That way, he said, the agency can spend its money on technology
consultants, instead of software, to get the most out of the technology.
DiscounTech was introduced in February by CompuMentor, which has been
offering computer consulting at discounted rates to other nonprofit groups
for 15 years, primarily in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley.
The advent of DiscounTech, which is available nationwide, has clearly struck
a chord with nonprofit organizations, which in the past have had to rely on
a hodgepodge of grants, direct donations and assistance from a variety of
foundations to pay for new technology. Or they have simply done without.
That had been the experience, for example, of Mark McNeil, information
technology director of the nonprofit Economic Opportunity Council, a social
services agency in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Before DiscounTech, Mr. McNeil
said, he would typically contact Microsoft and other companies directly to
request specific product donations.
"Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, but it always took a lot of
effort," said Mr. McNeil, adding that he had also received donated software
through Gifts in Kind, an organization that helps match donors of various
sorts with nonprofit groups.
But not until DiscounTech came along, Mr. McNeil said, did he find it
possible to use the most current versions of leading programs, like
Microsoft Office XP and Symantec's antivirus software.
"Our organization has to run pretty lean," Mr. McNeil said. "Now for every
four licenses of Microsoft Office we save enough to buy another computer."
Rebecca Masisak, the director of DiscounTech, hopes to start offering
discounted computers and networking technology by the end of this year,
though many of the details have still to be worked out. Once a DiscounTech
customer has installed the purchased technology, the user can then turn to
CompuMentor for discounted consulting services, online bulletin boards and
an informational Web site for nonprofits called TechSoup.
CompuMentor's original charter - to match volunteers, or mentors, in the
technology industry with nonprofit agencies - is still a large part of the
organization's focus. But the current one-stop approach marks a coming of
age for CompuMentor. It was founded in 1987 by Daniel Ben-Horin, a former
journalist, who set it up with a $2,500 grant from a local foundation.
"I thought I'd do it for about a year," Mr. Ben-Horin said. Considering the
enthusiasm for technology at the time, he said, "it seemed like a
no-brainer" to match computer programmers and consultants with agencies in
need of their specific services. But keeping his own nonprofit afloat proved
to be more challenging than he had expected.
In the last decade, Mr. Ben-Horin said, the organization has come close to
bankruptcy more than once. But it is now on firmer footing, as it receives
financing from Microsoft and AOL Time Warner, along with the Surda
Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and the
Kellogg Foundation. CompuMentor is also the Bay Area affiliate of the
national network of technology assistance providers, called the NPower
Network, that Microsoft founded several years ago.
CompuMentor has benefited somewhat in the last year from the demise of the
local Internet economy in San Francisco. For one thing, Mr. Ben-Horin has
been able to find spacious offices in a converted warehouse once occupied by
a Web company. And he has seen the caliber of job applicants rise, as
layoffs sent talented Internet entrepreneurs, project managers and designers
looking for their next projects.
Recently, for example, CompuMentor received 500 applications for a single
editor job on TechSoup. CompuMentor now employs about 65 people in roomy
offices in the southern end of San Francisco once known as Multimedia Gulch.
For software companies, CompuMentor's DiscounTech simplifies the process of
donating to numerous small and midsize nonprofit groups - a disparate array
of clinics, community service agencies, homeless shelters and other
Microsoft, which began distributing a limited selection of programs through
CompuMentor, has now made DiscounTech one of the company's largest donation
In its fiscal year 2002, which ended on June 30, Microsoft donated $25
million in software through DiscounTech, accounting for about one of every
eight of the company's software donations, according to Bruce Brooks,
Microsoft's director of community affairs.
This fiscal year, Microsoft expects to use DiscounTech to donate $30 million
For Microsoft and other software companies, having their products widely
distributed, even at steep discounts or for free, can be a way to raise
visibility - a tax-deductible form of marketing.
"There's a definite market-recognition factor in the nonprofit sector,"
agreed Eran Goren, vice president of business development at Ontero
Software, which donates its Web portal program called InfoCentral. "And it's
a sector that definitely has a need."
New Yorker Free Software Users Scene
Fair Use -
because it's either fair use or useless....