TechSoup is a nonprofit that connects other nonprofits, charities and public libraries with the technology they need to serve their communities. Registered and qualified TechSoup users have access to donated and discounted products and services, including high-quality refurbished hardware and software from partners like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco, Intuit and Symantec. In addition to providing tech, the organization also provides the tools and learning resources needed to know how to use them.
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By Stephanie Rosenburg, Communications & Social Media Intern
Navigating technology and keeping up with the latest tech tools can be a scary task for any time-strapped nonprofit. But thanks to virtual tech-savvy volunteers like Sasha Daucus, cyberspace can seem like a brighter place. Sasha brings a love for technology and passion for volunteering together in her role as online community host for the TechSoup Forums.
TechSoup provides nonprofits, charities and public libraries with donated or discounted software and hardware, as well as training on how to use them. The TechSoup Forums is their online community where users can go for help, product reviews and to connect with other organizations.
Volunteers moderate the forums, fielding user questions, engaging with comments and posting their own reviews in the various discussion categories. Sasha and her fellow hosts help build a warm and supportive community in the virtual world.
As the host of the Introduce Yourself forum, she's been welcoming new users to TechSoup for nine years. When a nonprofit first joins the forums, it's often to answer a specific question or get advice on a particular product. Sasha's made it her goal to connect with these users, writing personal messages and proactively thinking about how they can find the most value in the forums.
She recently responded to a post from a nonprofit in Oakland, sharing - in addition to answering their question - how happy she was to hear about a new organization from the city she grew up in.
On another occasion, Sasha replied to a vague question from someone working with an educational group, who asked, "how can we get started using technology?" She answered with more specific questions, engaging the user in a conversation to understand what they were really needing.
Sasha loves moderating the TechSoup Forums. "I get to say hello to people when they first come to the boards, help them feel welcome and steer them in the right direction to find what they came looking for." She's been a dedicated volunteer for the past nine years, and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
So how does someone get involved with a virtual, skill-based volunteer opportunity such as Sasha's? Her advice is to jump right into it. "If you have an issue that you feel passionately about, that can make you a wonderful advocate for an organization that works with that issue," she explains.
For Sasha, this involved diving into the online community at TechSoup. As social media director for FundRaiser Software, she was already busy reading and interacting in online forums. She enjoyed this so much that she decided to reach out to the community managers at TechSoup and see if she could help them out more formally. They asked her to monitor the Introduce Yourself forum.
At first, she says, "I thought I was being given kind of an unpopular gig." But she soon realized that they'd put her in exactly the right place.
The Introduce Yourself forum has let Sasha use her social skills and technology know-how to help others, and representing TechSoup has helped her develop and learn even more about interacting in social media; something that also benefits her work with FundRaiser Software.
Volunteering has always been a part of Sasha's life. A lot of Sasha's volunteer work is in social media and for environmental organizations, and she has recently started helping local groups with donor management software and more effective communications.
This work has helped her in the TechSoup Forums also, she explains, giving her a better understanding of the tech-related challenges facing nonprofits. "There is something deeply enriching to me about being engaged in my community with others who are thinking about how to make the world a better place on issues that are important to them and me," explains Sasha.
For her, this means interacting with people in TechSoup's virtual community and helping nonprofits find technology solutions that can help them engage with own their causes.