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
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."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.