Beyond Videoconferencing – Part 3

In part 1, we laid out the case for cloud-based collaboration and communication, and in part 2, we reviewed some of the major technical platforms. In part 3, we’ll work on acquiring this technology… at no charge to you!

If you started looking at some of the platforms we discussed in part 2, you’ll have noticed that they don’t come cheap. They’re often priced on a per user/per month basis that can add up quickly. As a non-profit during the time of quarantine and social distancing, you probably don’t have that sort of cash to throw around, especially on technology.

What you may have also noticed is that the tech giants offer some form of “non-profit” pricing. For example, Google offers “Google for Non-profits” at no cost. Microsoft 365 also has a non-profit pricing tier – free!

Free is good, obviously. So how do you go about accessing these resources? You must prove you’re a non-profit in your application, for starters. If you’ve already tried the application process, or have done some research, then you’ve probably come across a company that we’re going to discuss here – TechSoup.

TechSoup Canada is part of the global TechSoup network. It’s a non-profit organization dedicated to helping small to medium non-profits save on their technology investments. Their main resource is their “Technology Donation Program”, which “offers donated and discounted technologies to qualified charities, nonprofits and libraries for an administrative fee that’s typically 90% less than market value.”

While this alone is a great opportunity for your club, its TechSoup’s other function that we’re going to focus on; that of a gatekeeper. Companies like Google and Microsoft don’t want to research and verify every non-profit application that comes along – so they rely on TechSoup. If TechSoup says you’re a verified non-profit, then that’s good enough for them!

The application process at TechSoup is pretty easy, but you will need some information at hand before you begin. This article will walk you through it, but you can also go straight to TechSoup’s page for more info.

For Ontario clubs, you’ll need a copy of your Letters Patent, or a stamped application for incorporation. Quebec clubs don’t need any documentation up-front, but TechSoup may contact you if they need confirmation. If your club is federally incorporated, the same caveat applies. You will also need an idea of your club’s current operating or projected budget for the year.

  • Step 1: Sign up with TechSoup as an individual. Using a club email address, or an address that’s used on your website, can speed up the application process. REMEMBER this account, as it will be your TechSoup login for accessing their catalogue.
  • Step 2: Register your organization. This is where you’ll need your incorporation number and budget.
  • Step 3: Send proof of documentation. Scan and email your documents to TechSoup.

Once the application is complete, TechSoup will review and, if all goes well, they’ll generate a validation token – this is your key to unlock your new, FREE, collaboration platform!

In part 4, we’ll take a look at some of the information and resources you’ll need to successfully set up a collaboration platform, and an easy way to hop on board if you don’t have the time or expertise to set things up yourself.