When we think about the most exciting modern technologies, perhaps the first things that come to mind are machine learning, robots, or driverless cars. But what if companies could also apply their cutting-edge work to tackling the most pressing global issues? Imagine if software like Microsoft´s innovative Office 365 could be used to help millions of children living in poverty.
MVP Karl Donaubauer explains how he used his expertise in Microsoft Access to collaborate with the Austrian charity ZUKI (“Zukunft fur Kinder,” or “A future for children”) and make a difference in just this sort of way:
There are approximately 300.000 children living on the streets of Kolkata, India today - many of them working as child laborers. Since its founding in 2002, the charity ZUKI has made it its mission to confront this reality. Over the past 15 years, ZUKI has supported more than 1100 children in Kolkata and Sundarbans, providing them with a loving home, food, education and medical care.
This kind of work depends on appraising, social media, and transparent fund administration – all of which require efficient and unfailing data management. ZUKI volunteers and staff have always needed to track a vast amount of information relating to the children they help, as well as sponsor details.
As ZUKI's projects and administrative workload grew, they contacted me for technical consultation. They needed to develop a solution that could meet their complex demands for managing and sharing data. Being an expert in Microsoft products and a long time Microsoft Access MVP, I got to work building a solution that addressed ZUKI's needs and kept costs to a minimum.
Now ZUKI has the right technology at no cost. The organization uses a Microsoft Access database application with a user interface that lets them easily work with their data. ZUKI also uses SharePoint Online as a backend for data storage, which allows us to collaborate and monitor the most up-to-date data together.
As an officially recognized charity, ZUKI qualifies for the Office 365 Nonprofit Plan, and therefore receives SharePoint Online and other tools for free. And as ZUKI grows, cost of management remains around one percent – a figure which is crucial for their credibility and success in fundraising.
Using Access as a frontend and SharePoint Online as backend also allows us to work offline when necessary, as Access caches information until we regain internet connectivity. Additionally, Access integration with Microsoft Excel provides us a great advantage in that we can use Excel for reporting and data entry while in the field.
Thanks to these outstanding tools, donors can be sure that their donations are managed and spent in the way that most benefits India´s children. And with Microsoft´s help, ZUKI gets the support it needs.
This post originally appeared on the Microsoft Access Blog, and was edited by the MVP Award Blog.