The Help-Files: The Truth Is Here
Vol02: Iss06 – Autumn Is Here, Time For Some Soup – TechSoup That Is
Serve the City.your-city needs a few laptops, a printer, and some software licenses. You do a little searching on Amazon and Google and soon you realize that you won’t have any money for next month’s service projects if you buy the tech today. If only somebody offered NGO’s free or discounted hardware and software. Well, it turns out many companies do – you just have to go through a process of being verified as a legit nonprofit that meets that company’s requirements. So, you fill out some forms with Lenovo (or Apple) for those laptops you want, another set of forms with HP for the printer, and don’t forget the forms for Microsoft and Adobe because what good are the laptops and printer without the right software. Or …
… You could go over to TechSoup (TechSoup.org), fill out one set of forms to get yourself registered there (depending on your country you may be redirected to a partner organization), and go shopping! Launched in January 2002, TechSoup serves nonprofits by providing training webinars, community forums and other resources about the use of technology in nonprofit organizations and public libraries. TechSoup partners with Microsoft to distribute Microsoft’s product donations globally, and helps to connect nonprofits and libraries to corporate donors such as Adobe, Symantec, Cisco and Intuit to receive discounted hardware and software. TechSoup also verifies the nonprofit status of organizations seeking donations and matches them to the donated technology products they need.
The registration process varies a bit depending on what country you are in. Generally, you’ll need to provide contact information and one or more items to prove that your organization is a legal nonprofit and that you are fully registered as such in your country. This process can be paperwork heavy in some countries but something Serve the City International highly recommends all cities plan on doing as they enter the Active Life Stage. Once TechSoup verifies your nonprofit status you’ll have access to their catalog of hardware, software, and training resources. The offerings can vary between countries so, for example, that discounted laptop your friend from Serve the City Dublin got may not be available in the Netherlands. They also provide validation tokens for services like Google for Nonprofits, a necessary first step for access to Google Ad Words.
Will you always find the cheapest tech solutions at TechSoup? Honestly, no. If you’re a diligent bargain hunter or willing to working directly with multiple companies and navigating their NGO program registration process, you can likely save a few more dollars/euros/pounds by going it on your own. But signing up with TechSoup is free and, at the very least, it gives you an idea of what companies do have NGO discount programs and a price for comparison shopping.