$25 million given to expand nonprofits' tech access

Posted: Thursday, September 14, 2000

SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. is giving a Seattle area nonprofit agency $25 million to help it provide technology services to other nonprofits around the country.

NPower was formed last year to help Seattle-area charitable organizations understand and manage technology. The organization's volunteers helped set up computer systems and trained nonprofits' staffers to maintain the systems.

At the annual meeting of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer announced Tuesday that the company would dedicate the $25 million, to be paid over five years, to make NPower a national presence.

''This is one of the largest donations we've ever made,'' Ballmer said. ''Of course we donate software, but it's groups like NPower that will actually make sure that these nonprofit organizations get the most out of that software and their computers. It's a pretty special thing.''

New York and Dallas are two of the cities NPower hopes to reach, Ballmer said, with installations in up to 10 other cities by the end of the five-year grant.

According to Executive Director Joan Fanning, NPower helps nonprofits become more efficient, which in today's economy, helps attract more donors.

''Donors today have great expectations when they give,'' Fanning said. ''They want to be involved, and they want to see things being done right. NPower helps on the technology end by ensuring that nonprofits have the training they need to use their technology well.''

Fanning said Microsoft's grant would provide about 50 percent of the funds necessary for the planned national expansion. She hopes to develop new local NPower charities in each city in a ''franchise model,'' to best take advantage of local talent and philanthropy.

NPower was formed at the urging of Seattle-area companies and charities, including Microsoft, The Boeing Co., the Seattle Foundation and the Medina Foundation. According to Microsoft, an estimated 72 percent of nonprofits lack in-house technology staff and access to affordable technology services.

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