Provide Support or Donate Where Support Is Available

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

5. Provide support or donate where support is available.

Most IT organizations find it unacceptably disruptive and expensive to directly support the beneficiaries of their gifts. To address the issue, consider targeting donations to nonprofit organizations with the means to provide training and tech support to individual recipients. Or manage donations through a vendor who includes a warranty and support with its donations services offering. For computers upgraded through the MAR program, Microsoft provides free online technical support and software updates.

6. Track and report results.

A sustainable donations initiative relies on good metrics to provide ongoing proof of its value. Collaborate with CSR and marketing to understand what data they will require to credit IT for their contribution to larger enterprise objectives. For fully depreciated equipment, no additional reporting is necessary for tax accounting.

7. Close the loop.

All good hardware will come to an end, so it is important to provide donation recipients with the means to properly recycle their gifts. Since federal and many state environmental regulations are "joint and several" in establishing liabilities, a user that improperly disposes of an asset poses a risk to the enterprise that made the original donation. Providing free takeback for recycling demonstrates due diligence to regulatory authorities, virtually eliminating end-of-life risks.

8. Keep donating.

Organizations that are able to measure the business value of their gifts make donations part of a diversified strategy for optimizing the value of their hardware investment. From the charity's perspective, recurring support is much more valuable than a one-time gift, increasing the impact of corporate giving.

9. Consider outsourcing the donations process.

Most IT organizations would agree that their core competencies do not include refurbishing hardware, relicensing software, providing families with training and technical support, or managing end-of-life takebacks. Therefore, a managed donations program is the ideal activity to outsource to a qualified services provider. Look for a vendor who is both a MAR and an independently certified recycler. Insist that they have a strong balance sheet and a history of successfully managing the end-to-end process.

This approach is causing organizations to rethink past opposition to donations. For instance, analysts Rob Schafer and Frances O'Brien recently commented in a research note that their organization "has long advised enterprises to be cautious when donating used IT equipment to charitable organizations because the process can be labor-intensive and requires careful planning, asset preparation and documentation." However, the research note points out that with proper precautions, these "relatively low-risk IT asset donations can be attractive to an enterprise's corporate social responsibility (CSR) area."

In summary

Because IT is a gateway to individual prosperity and participation in modern society, donating used PCs to bridge the "digital divide" can make a major impact. Companies benefit in many ways when more people are empowered as citizens and consumers through digital services. From this perspective, corporate surplus IT is a strategic asset unlike any other kind of surplus property.

Robert Houghton is founder and president of Redemtech. Robert is an expert in the field of technology reuse and recycling, including responsible e-waste management, sustainable computing and off-network security best practices. He can be reached at




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