NGO improves humanitarian aid delivery time by streamlining IT and improving ease of use
KUALA LUMPUR, 29 October 2013 – International charitable foundation The Tzu Chi Foundation (“Tzu Chi”), which opened its first branch in Malaysia in 1993 and is now one of Malaysia’s largest non-governmental organizations (NGO), today announced that it has successfully deployed a comprehensive stack of Microsoft technology to help it more effectively achieve its humanitarian mission.
Tzu Chi, which literally means "Compassionate Relief", has been recognized with a special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Its Malaysian operations, with 40 offices in the country, employs 500 permanent staff, who—with 20,000 volunteers—deliver a wide range of humanitarian, medical, educational and welfare programs.
Turning to Microsoft’s stack of technology has greatly improved Tzu Chi Malaysia’s ability to respond to humanitarian needs. According to Mr. Sio Kee Hong, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Tzu Chi KL-Selangor Branch, “When members of the public called and asked for help, we used to need some time to gather our resources and information. Sometimes, this took up to three hours. However, since we deployed Microsoft’s suite of solutions, we work faster. Now we typically respond within the hour.”
Prior to this, Tzu Chi depended on an assortment of technologies, mixing open source, free as well as proprietary software for its communications and IT infrastructure. It believed that this was the best way to remain financially accountable, as it needed to ensure that every donated dollar was channeled to its aid programs.
However, the situation became untenable. Documents were often produced in incompatible formats across multiple desktop versions and software products, which further slowed down collaboration with volunteers.
Reliance on free web-based email meant inconsistent communication channels to its donors, volunteers and partners. IT staff struggled to support their colleagues on the ground: multiple versions of applications on different operating systems meant updates and patches were hard to maintain.
Worse, the situation restricted opportunities for future growth and development. Tzu Chi was looking to build a new donor-management system, but the mixed technology environment made them cautious, especially when it came to future support and development.
In early 2013, Tzu Chi took advantage of a special licensing arrangement that allowed for software donations to charitable organizations, standardized its entire infrastructure on an up-to-date Microsoft stack, which included Windows, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Active Directory and Windows Server.
“We chose Microsoft because all our permanent staff are familiar with Microsoft products, and the products are supported by Microsoft,” said Mr. Sio. “Also, IT specialists with Microsoft skills are relatively easy to find. This is essential if we want to improve reliability, and build and integrate tools ourselves.”
According to Mr. Sio, Tzu Chi staff reacted very positively to their new IT environment. “We found everyone adapted very quickly, and I observe that everyone gets their work done more quickly. Greater efficiency means we provide much better services to the community.”
Commenting on the partnership, Carlos Lacerda, Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia said, “Stories like this continue to encourage all of us at Microsoft – to realize how the power of our technology can help transform and improve the lives Malaysians.
We are delighted to have helped The Tzu Chi Foundation in Malaysia improve their ability to provide humanitarian aid and relief to those who really need it. This is yet another clear example of how we can help partner with others to transform Malaysia together.”