Engage Communities. Create Resilience – Our Experience At The 2021 TechSoup Global Network (TSGN) Summit

TSGN Summit 2021

TechSoup, the leading nonprofit network facilitating distribution of technology solutions to civil society organizations globally, convened more than 500 civil society leaders from 50 countries virtually for the biennial TechSoup Global Network (TSGN) Summit in June 2021. Centered around the theme “Engage Communities. Create Resilience,” the virtual gathering took place June 16-30 across every time zone and showcased the voices of capacity builders, philanthropists, corporate partners, NGOs and team members of TechSoup’s more than 60 global network partners.

After a year unlike any before, we are gathering the world’s largest network of nonprofits and civil society organizations to celebrate our successes, learn from our challenges and recommit to building resilient and effective civil society organizations in communities around the world,” said Ken Tsunoda, vice president of Development and Network at TechSoup.

This year’s summit, the eighth since the TechSoup Global Network was founded in 2005, examined the state of global civil society and the Network’s role in ensuring that nonprofits everywhere are equipped with the tools, services, and other resources needed to operate effectively in today’s increasingly digital world. The summit featured 63 sessions including:

  • Engage Community. Create Resilience. Get Networked!: A compelling discussion featuring leaders who are navigating capacity challenges on behalf of local, community-based civil society organizations and actors and the philanthropic resources their missions require.
  • Network Stories: Responding to COVID: Frontline accounts of how NGOs navigated the pandemic while continuing to meet organization missions and serve their communities.
  • Global Data Handling and Digital Readiness: Results from a comprehensive study conducted by TechSoup in 2020 among over 11,000 nonprofit IT decision makers.
  • Democracy and Civil Society: An open forum featuring foundation and corporate leaders, TSGN partners, NGOs, and experts on democracy to explore what we can all do to engage our communities and create resilience.

This year’s Summit was made possible through generous support from Summit Champion Microsoft and Summit Partner VMware. Global Network Partner Sponsors include Haus des Stiftens, SOCIALware, Charity Digital, Connecting Up, and Les Ateliers du Bocage. Sponsors include Adobe and the Cloud Signature Consortium and supporters include Cisco, Dell Technologies, OnBoard and DocuSign.

Phambano Technology Development Centre NPC (TSGN Partner | Southern Africa) Team Members Experiences At The TSGN 2021 Summit:

Arnold Netshambidi, Executive Director

“This is the second TechSoup Global Network Summit that Phambano Technology Development Centre NPC has attended after being onboarded as a TechSoup partner in 2017. Although this time around the summit was virtual, it presented an amazing opportunity for my colleagues to attend who previously wouldn’t have been able to travel to San Francisco. Together we were able to engage with, learn more about, participate alongside, and better understand the TechSoup Global Network and all partners worldwide, including our technology donor partners. With the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, we shared our perspective on building resilient nonprofit organisations in the Southern Africa region. The Phambano Technology Development Centre NPC team left the virtual summit energized with an increased purpose to better serve and support our global nonprofit communities.

Samantha Barnard, Development Lead

“Having previously attended a TSGN summit in-person, I have to commend the TechSoup team for hosting a phenomenal virtual gathering of global partners that felt like we were all in-person together. My most impactful key takeaways from this year’s summit include:

  • Listening to stories from other partners about how they provided immediate and much needed support to their NPO communities as a direct response to the covid-19 pandemic
  • Engaging with our tech donor partners to develop new strategies around product implementation and increased software donations in Southern Africa
  • Workshopping solutions and brain storming ideas with the global network team around responsible data and good technology practices
  • Developing new processes with the support of other partners to equip our team with the skills needed to better support more nonprofits across Southern Africa
  • Getting inspiration from other partners about the future of technology for social impact and how we as a TechSoup Global Network Partner can better serve the global nonprofit community, together.

To me, the absolute magic of attending a TSGN Summit takes place immediately after the closing summit discussion. During this time, our team is refreshed and motivated to develop and implement new strategies that were built on the learnings received during the summit and as always, we quickly implement and share these strategies with our Southern Africa nonprofit community. I am very proud to be a part of the TechSoup Global Network and look forward to developing more engaged communities and resilient programmes for our nonprofit clients, friends and partners.”

Di Ruthenberg, Programme Coordinator

“This was my first TSGN Summit. Being afforded the opportunity to meet and engage with partners from all over the world was overwhelming in the beginning but quickly became my most favourite place to be, virtually. The Airmeet platform (great choice TS!) provided us the opportunity to visit product and donor booths (and have some fun); meet with other participants around virtual tables (which felt like we were literally around a table in-person); attend sessions as audience members and participate in practical virtual workshops. For me, having attended many virtual events during the pandemic, this virtual summit stands out as the most organized and professional one to date. So what did I take from Summit?

  • No matter where you are in the world, TechSoup Global Network Partners, as nonprofits, carry the heart to serve their communities with compassion, respect and gratitude for their causes
  • Partner sharing of experiences, challenges and tech resources that each have used for capacity building is offered unconditionally
  • The foundation of our success is Relationships & Resilience
  • The TechSoup Global Network is so much more than tech and software solutions. It’s about equipping, supporting and listening to the needs of partners and helping each one find solutions to the challenges we face.

Three weeks of being together virtually sounded like a really long time, but the summit was so encouraging, uplifting and empowering that the three weeks seemed too short! I have come away with information overflow, not in a bad way! I can’t wait to continue our internal strategic planning and share what we as Phambano have gained at the summit, with the rest of our networks.”

Nontyatyambo Mhlayivana, Validation Coordinator

“My first TSGN virtual summit experience was phenomenal. It made me realize that TechSoup is more than just a network. It is an engaged and active community that combats social ills with the usage of technology. I was astonished at how 50 countries could come together and share their stories and experiences on one platform! I also got to learn about how different communities responded to the challenges of the Covid Pandemic and most importantly, I gained a new skill: virtual networking. Through this networking, I was able to exchange ideas with other partners and tap into a more diverse breadth of knowledge. There were a couple of events and networking sessions that stood out for me namely:

  • How to create value in a marketplace membership event: Camille Watson and Robbie Baxter spoke about the 3cs that each organisation needs to remember. The 3cs can impact the success of an organisation positively. The 3cs are, Commerce, Community, and Context. All Cs are interlinked therefore, if one C is affected it will affect the other Cs. I also learned that each country/partner had different challenges during the Covid Pandemic. For example, the African NGO’s had different challenges compared to the European NGO’s. Some European countries mentioned that their fundraising was affected as well as their service delivery. In contrast, African partners shared how their nonprofit communities experienced lack of online access resources, digital literacy and sadly how this resulted in many of them having to shut down.
  • The importance of Customer Success event: This session made me realize that “you prosper when your customers prosper-their win is your win as an organisation”. So, leave your ego at the door and serve the community. This changed my mindset as validator.
  • Global Validation Services program session: This session made me realize that my role as a validator has a huge impact on many NGOs in our region, especially during the pandemic. I also learnt more about the new corporate partnerships that were formed to make affordable software donations available for nonprofits globally.
  • Online SWAG session: This taught me the importance of adhering to dress codes even when attending virtual events and how one can get creative with online clothing/SWAG.
  • Learning about the different online tools that nonprofits across the globe used during lockdowns, especially the usage of the cloud. Previously, cloud technology could be seen as intimidating in our region but I am looking forward to sharing a new found love for the cloud with our community.

Partner Recognition – TSGN Leadership Awards

This year, The TechSoup Global Network proudly honoured Arnold and Samantha for “DRIVE COLLABORATION”.

TSGN Summit 2021

About the TechSoup Global Network

The TechSoup Global Network brings together 60+ organizations on six continents that collaborate to support more than 1.2 million NGOs in meeting the world’s most pressing needs. The partners, operating in 39 languages, are all united by a dedication to create social impact through access to technology. Together, TechSoup Global Network partners bring impact at scale.

About TechSoup

For more than 30 years, TechSoup has provided the transformative technology solutions, the digital platforms, and the in-person experiences that enable people to work together toward a more equitable world. Through its Global Network, TechSoup manages the only global philanthropy program that brings together more than 825 corporations and foundations to provide technology donations to NGOs everywhere. TechSoup’s data and validation services enable companies, foundations, and governments to connect their philanthropic resources with vetted NGOs around the world. TechSoup has reached than 1.2 million NGOs and facilitated distribution of technology products and grants valued at more than $15 billion. https://www.techsoup.org

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