A Fresh Look at Computer Donation

By Robert Houghton  |  Posted 2011-05-03 Print this article Print


Every disposition is a trade-off, with real opportunity costs compared to alternatives. When IT professionalizes its procedures to mitigate enterprise compliance risk and integrates technology gifts with enterprise CSR objectives, the business is able to realize quantifiable returns on its investment-a "giving ROI" that far exceeds the potential of any other disposition option.

Nine keys to this success include the need to:

1. Include CSR and marketing departments in donations planning.

When part of enterprise strategy, technology donations can receive budgetary support from these stakeholders. Also, participation in brand-building initiatives provides IT with a new vector for demonstrating its relevancy to the business.

2. Refurbish the hardware to provide a reliable, quality experience.

Donated hardware is a cost to the recipient, not a gift, if it's not in good operating condition. Fully refurbished hardware can be as reliable as new. Achieving CSR objectives requires that the new user be delighted and empowered by the gift. It is also important not to be labeled as an irresponsible company that avoids disposition costs by dumping surplus equipment on charities in the guise of a gift.

3. Include legitimately licensed software.

Software must be included to make a useful gift, but donating companies must be careful not to violate the terms of their software license agreements-which are explicit about the terms of transfer. Microsoft has created the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) program to inexpensively-and legally-relicense Windows operating system and Office software for secondary use. Consider engaging a MAR service provider to install genuine software on donated machines.

4. Donate where the equipment will have the greatest impact.

Historically, some IT donations have failed because companies give the equipment to community organizations that either do not need it or lack the resources to repair, deploy and maintain it. Gifts that go unused due to lack of training or because of malfunction create no value and can potentially hurt the enterprise brand rather than enhancing it. A third party can help target donations. For instance, some companies partner with nonprofits (such as Habitat for Humanity International, for example) to channel customers' donations effectively.


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