Microsoft Impact Story Contest 2009

See The Impact of Microsoft Donations

Microsoft LogoNonprofits across North America and around the world are using their Microsoft technology donations in innovative and inspiring ways that are helping to drive increased social benefit.  Microsoft and TechSoup are proud to support these organizations and hope you will be inspired by their uses of technology to operate at their maximum potential.

2009 Microsoft Show Your Impact Story Contest Prize Winners:

Freestore Foodbank NY Theatre

Pangea Foundation

2009 Winners

In May 2009, TechSoup Global and Microsoft Corporation jointly sponsored the 2009 Microsoft-TechSoup “Show Your Impact!” Contest. Below are the winners of that contest which was open to any US 501(c)(3) or public library or Canadian charity that had received donations through the TechSoup Microsoft Software Donation Program. In that contest, nonprofits were asked to submit their project into one of three categories. Find the impressive winners of each category below.

The winners in each category are:

Stable and Secure Technology: Raising the Bar - Serving Hunger and Poverty in Cincinnati

The Freestore Foodbank, the third largest food bank in Ohio, provides a full array of services to assist the Cincinnati area’s most vulnerable citizens with housing, food, clothing, transportation, access to healthcare/treatment programs, identification, referrals to job training and other social services agencies, and other every day needs. Their food services program serves over 160,000 individuals a year through different programs focused on both the urban and rural poor, and undernourished children, providing hot food and food pantries.

The Freestore Foodbank used Microsoft Technology donations through TechSoup to: 1) establish a server-based network between its locations, 2) standardize their desktops so everyone was using the same operating system and version of Microsoft Office, 3) move everyone onto a common email platform, and, most critically, 4) use Data Protection Manager (DPM) software for making shadow copy/replica backups of files. The efficiencies achieved through standardizing and securing the basic technologies that underpins their work has significantly impacted the Foodbank’s ability to serve an increasing number of clients, expand programs, and bounce back with little disruption in service when windstorms in September 2008 left one of their centers without power for four days.

Optimize Mission Delivery:

The New York Theatre Experience, (NYTE) uses new and traditional media to highlight, nurture, promote, and advance the work of thousands of indie/nonprofit theatre practitioners making groundbreaking and foundational art in New York City. NYTE has an annual budget under $100K, one full-time staffer, and an extensive team of nonprofit theatre professionals as volunteers. The NYTE website,, received more than 7 million hits last year from people coming to learn what is playing in New York theatres, buy tickets, and read artist interviews and production reviews.

NYTE has optimized the performance of through the implementation of Microsoft technologies to make it easier to manage and make it more user friendly, displaying a greater breadth of information. MapPoint allows NYTE to geocode locations of more than 200 venues listed on Their SQL Server/VB 2005 system facilitates the management and mobilization of volunteers more effectively, most crucially during FringeNYC when volunteers sign up to review 1500 performances of more than 200 theatre, dance, puppetry, comedy, and dramatic productions over a 17-day period. The SQL Server database also enables the website’s "Trip Planner" feature to display a customized page showing exactly what shows are playing during a given period of interest.

The donated Microsoft software has enabled NYTE to optimize their user-friendly, feature-rich website to more effectively promote the work of hundreds of nonprofit theatre companies to an audience of 3 million people annually, and all at no cost to the nonprofit theatres themselves.

Transformations to Maximize Impact: ReliefPoint

In 2008, the Pangea Foundation, a provider of custom, software-as-a-service to nonprofits, developed ReliefPoint™, an online solution that serves as a single, unified communications platform for disaster relief organizations. The Foundation utilized Microsoft technologies to develop a robust, real-time intelligence hub for nationwide disaster relief coordination by integrating enterprise-class software, visual analytics, and interactive web 2.0 technologies.

Because ReliefPoint is securely accessible via the web, the various organizations involved in a specific disaster relief effort are able to input information directly into the software which can immediately be utilized by call center operators for communication it to the public. In addition, information about the origin and nature of the calls coming in from the public can be used to provide real-time trend insight to relief agencies and public officials. ReliefPoint has been used by disaster relief organizations responding to the 2008 Midwest floods, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Ike, the 2009 Santa Barbara fires and, most recently, the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) to transform how disaster services are delivered and reported across America.

In a World Plagued by Disasters… Finally There’s Help

Organization Information:

Organization Name

Pangea Foundation

Organization's Mission Statement

Pangea Foundation delivers custom-fit software-as-a-service to nonprofits. By integrating enterprise-class software, visual analytics, and interactive web 2.0 technologies into an extensible service offering, we empower nonprofits to visualize and communicate the impact of their programs on demand.

Organization Website

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Transforming Microsoft® technologies into a real-time intelligence hub for nationwide disaster relief coordination

Pangea Foundation is what you get when you merge the heart of a nonprofit with the mind of Silicon Valley. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit and a trusted partner to nonprofits since 1996, Pangea Foundation delivers innovative, custom-fit web solutions using the Microsoft .NET 2.0 framework, which enables rapid development, enhanced security, and optimized scalability.

We rely on the Visual Studio 2005 Integrated Development Environment to develop extensible applications. Further, we utilize ASP.NET AJAX to build applications that are highly interactive and responsive. To enable our software developers and extended IT team to manage and track the progress and health of our software projects, we use Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server. We also employ Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005 to ensure high performance and scalability in our hosting environment. Lastly, we host and traffic email with Microsoft Exchange 2003 and we maximize productivity with the Microsoft Office 2007 toolset.

Harnessing these robust Microsoft technologies, Pangea Foundation added innovative disaster relief software to its service portfolio in 2008. The solution, branded ReliefPoint™, was custom-designed to meet the unique needs of America’s disaster services organizations. 

From volunteerism to innovation to extraordinary impact creation

What began as a volunteer effort in San Diego has been transformed into a powerful impact multiplier that now serves people all across America. Today, when disaster strikes, ReliefPoint serves as a single, unified communications point for nationwide disaster relief coordination. And without the generous support of TechSoup and Microsoft, ReliefPoint would not have been possible. 

2007 California wildfires: Beauty from ashes

The idea behind ReliefPoint stems back to October, 2007 when wildfires consumed Southern California and more than a million people were evacuated from their homes. Major highways were closed as fires spread ferociously. Information about evacuation routes, shelters, and road closures changed by the minute.

Recognizing the need, Pangea Foundation voluntarily created a custom-fit software solution to empower 211 San Diego and its 1,200 volunteers to communicate real-time relief information to the public. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, 211 San Diego is recognized by the San Diego County Office of Emergency Services as a key communications resource during times of disaster. Upon launch, the software empowered 211 San Diego to link people with vital resources. It also tracked services delivered to over 120,000 households during the fires. 

The old way: Paper-based processes that didn’t scale

Previously, the 211 call center operations were paper-based. Every two hours, volunteer call operators at five locations received an updated paper binder from authorized resource specialists. The binder included information provided by authorities, which was then communicated to the public when they called 211 for help. Not only did this approach not scale, the information was up to two hours old.

The new way: Less time buried in paper—more time serving people

After a few days of round-the-clock software development using Microsoft technologies, Pangea Foundation helped to transform the 211 call center operations from a paper-based environment to a vibrant, scalable, intelligence hub. With accurate emergency information now instantly accessible via a live connection to a SQL database, 211 call operators no longer had to waste valuable time sifting through paper binders to find what they needed.

Instead, resource specialists were able to input information received from authorities directly into the software. Call operators were then able to instantly access that same information and communicate it to the public. Lastly, 211 could track the origin and nature of the calls to provide real-time trend insight to relief agencies and public officials.

A commitment to building the technological foundation for impact-enablement

Following the fires, Pangea Foundation and 211 San Diego made a commitment to work together to make the software even more robust, with an ultimate goal of equipping disaster services organizations nationwide with the software, to ensure they were prepared to meet the demands of future disasters. Incorporating lessons learned from the fires, ReliefPoint was born.

2008 Midwest floods, Hurricane Gustav, and Hurricane Ike

During 2008, ReliefPoint was donated to accelerate relief during the Midwest floods, Hurricane Gustav, and Hurricane Ike. Because ReliefPoint is web-based, relief workers can access and communicate updated information to the public in real-time—whether they are working inside the disaster zone or 3,000 miles away.

This was particularly important during Hurricane Gustav when 211 call centers based in the Gulf Coast region were immobilized. Because ReliefPoint is securely accessible via the web, distributed 211s from across the United States were able to backfill critical gaps by receiving forwarded calls originating inside the disaster zone, and using ReliefPoint to provide callers with relief information.

With ReliefPoint, call operators were able to answer vital questions immediately: From questions about road closures to evacuation routes to the nearest shelter; from determining if it was safe to return home to identifying power outage updates to pinpointing boil water alerts. Without ReliefPoint, people would not have had access to the information they needed to remain safe.

2009 Santa Barbara fires and the H1N1 influenza (swine flu)

Most recently, ReliefPoint was donated to facilitate relief coordination during the Santa Barbara fires. It was also used to link people to services related to the swine flu, as well as deliver trend insight to stakeholders and public officials.

A smarter approach to disaster relief

Thanks to TechSoup and donated Microsoft technologies, ReliefPoint is transforming how disaster services are delivered and reported across America. In only a short time, ReliefPoint has already been used to serve over 330,000 households nationwide.

With additional support, we will build upon these efforts, make ReliefPoint even more robust, and help ensure that America’s communities are better equipped to withstand the demands of the next disaster—before it happens. 

“We first used the software during the 2008 Iowa floods. It was then that we began to realize the strategic role of technology in disaster risk reduction. The more prepared a disaster services organization is before an emergency, the more effective and credible it will be during an emergency. We will either save lives—or lose them—depending on the steps we take today to prepare for tomorrow’s disasters.” 

Chris Juett, 2-1-1 Program Manager, United Way

Submission Category

Transformations to Maximize Impact



Raising the Bar - Serving Hunger and Poverty in Cincinnati

Organization Information:

Organization Name

Freestore Foodbank

Organization's Mission Statement

Mission:  We provide food and services; create stability and further self-reliance for people in crisis.

Vision:  To be the leader of a community mobilized to end hunger and address its causes.

Organization Website

Submission Information

Impact Essay

          The Freestore Foodbank is the third largest food bank in Ohio and the largest emergency social services outlet for the greater Cincinnati area. It is unique among the nation’s food banks in that it operates an emergency client services center in one of Cincinnati’s most impoverished inner-city neighborhoods, Over-the-Rhine. This area has a 25% poverty rate, twice the national average, and residents have an average median monthly income of $690.00 with 56% of families living below poverty. Our clients represent the city’s most vulnerable citizens, including the homeless, the unemployed, and the working poor. Those who come through our doors are offered a full array of services to assist them with housing, food, clothing, transportation, access to healthcare/treatment programs, identification, referrals to job training and other social services agencies, and other every day needs. Our choice pantry serves over 7,000 individuals a month and those numbers double in November and December when we provide additional food for the holidays. In the City of Cincinnati, the Freestore Foodbank has earned the reputation for being “the place to go” in times of need.

            On the food bank side of the house, we provide food resources for approximately 450 agencies in 20 counties in the tri-state area (Ohio, parts of Indiana and Kentucky), and serve roughly 160,000 individuals a year. With our new mobile pantry, and working in conjunction with faith-based and community organizations, we will be able to reach further into rural areas to serve those who are unable to come to our agency pantries for emergency food assistance. In addition to serving member agencies, we also offer feeding programs for children. Our Kids Cafe program provides nutritious hot meals for children and currently operates 12 sites. In 2008 we delivered 85,090 meals. Our Power Pack program provides shelf-stable, nutritious food for children to take home over the weekend to help prevent them from becoming hungry. Our Cincinnati Cooks! program assists adults with culinary training over a 10-week program to help them learn new job skills and as part of the process, these students prepare the meals served at the Kids Cafe locations. Since the program’s inception in 2001, there have been more than 400 students who have graduated and in working with approximately 120 employers in the Cincinnati area, more than 70% of the graduates have obtained and maintained consistent employment.

            Our growth was previously hampered by our ability to communicate and share information over multiple sites on a reliable network using standardized software. The servers were old, the software was ancient, and no one had the same version of word processing or spreadsheet software. It was difficult to share files between sites let alone between computers, as well as send things out to donors, board members, or anyone asking for information. Our mail was hosted externally for the upper staff and through POP mail from our internet provider for the remaining the staff. Without a common desktop platform, working together was difficult and cumbersome. There were no backups because the DAT tape drive that was being used had quit working, and there were no monies to replace it. Through the Microsoft donation program at TechSoup, we have been able to purchase software that we would not have been able to afford otherwise, make a multi-year plan for network and desktop standardization, formulate a reliable backup plan, and find a way to protect ourselves from potential disasters, bring e-mail in-house, and work towards bringing stability and security to our organization. A monumental task given our small budget, limited resources, but definitely one that had to happen for the vitality and growth of the organization.

            We began with the implementation of updated server technology. A server was purchased for each site and new server operating software and licenses were purchased and loaded onto them. Having a common operating system helped to end some of the issues that were happening between sites which was a huge time savings for the 1.5 members of the IT staff. It allowed us to take advantage of Active Directory for the first time and control access to files, form policy groups, enforce policies and helped us to secure some of the holes that were causing problems. From there, the standardization of the desktops began with the purchase of XP licenses and office licenses to bring us up to a level where we could share documents and not worry about what version or what program the document was created in. Productivity rose and fewer client files were delayed in reaching necessary desks as most of the paperwork is now available electronically. This is especially important now because we are seeing more than 200 clients daily.

            One of the most critical purchases that we made was the Data Protection Manager (DPM) software for doing shadow copy/replica backups of our files. It allowed us to take our data and save it off-site by having each site have its own DPM server located at the opposite site. It also allowed our user base to recover different versions of documents if they are accidentally overwritten or deleted. This advantage became especially important during the September 2008 windstorms when our Liberty Street location was without power for four days. We were still able to be partially operational because the site’s data was protected at another location and was restorable to another server.

            By purchasing and installing Exchange 2007, we were able to move everyone onto a single mail platform saving the Freestore Foodbank over $7,000 a year and allowing us features and options not previously available. With the Global Address Book, now no one is left off of important internal announcements when previously the administrative staff had to keep their own distribution lists. Calendar sharing has opened up a number of organizational time savings with departments having shared calendars for scheduling client appointments, vehicles, and meetings. With the Scheduling Assistant, they know who is available and when, no more calling around to find a time for everyone to meet – no more of the “Where’s Waldo” syndrome.

            Our future plans include implementing an Internet Security Acceleration server and dabbling with the Systems Management Server (SMS) product to see if it can cut down on upgrades and software deployment time so we don’t have to visit everyone’s desk every time something is rolled out or updated. One of our dreams is to have the Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) program so we can have real time monitoring of our servers from a central location and the ability to be notified immediately if there are problems. If awarded this prize, we will be able to accelerate our plans which would come at a perfect time as we are opening a new location in March of 2010.

Submission Category

Stable and Secure Technology


Organization Information:

Organization Name

The New York Theatre Experience, Inc.

Organization's Mission Statement

The New York Theatre Experience, Inc. (NYTE), is a nonprofit corporation that uses new and traditional media to provide tangible support and advocacy for the theatre community in New York City. Through our two primary programs, NYTE New Media and NYTE Small Press, we help theatre companies and theatre artists—especially those in the nonprofit and indie theater sectors, and those in underserved communities—attain the recognition and rewards that their work deserves.

Organization Website

Submission Information

Impact Essay

NYTE’s 7 interconnected websites highlight, nurture, promote, and advance the work of thousands of indie/nonprofit theatre practitioners making groundbreaking and foundational art in New York City and around the US, and inform and grow theatre audiences. The oldest and largest of our sites is Last year, it generated more than 7 million hits: people use it to learn what’s playing in theatres in New York City, how to get to those theatres, and how to buy tickets; then they click on ticketing links and buy tickets (an estimated 1 million dollars’ worth in 2008) and attend performances—and then they return to to use our venue listings, read interviews with artists, or check out specific reviews. differs from other theatre sites by focusing on the nonprofit theatre community. More than 90% of shows in New York are produced by nonprofits; most of these are small companies struggling for limited funding and audiences. Because their marketing budgets are modest (or even nonexistent), it’s hard for these companies to get noticed by media and audiences. And notice is what they need and deserve:  they are the laboratory and experimental wing of American theatre, the incubator for new artists, new forms, new styles, new ideas.


Our vision is to level the playing field within the New York theatre community—to make sure that underfunded emerging nonprofit companies are given ample, enthusiastic  coverage to help them reach the public and build the audience they need to survive. We do this by listing more shows on than any other website we know of (more than 2,000 of them in 2008) and by reviewing more shows than anybody else (910 in 2008). Our success in serving the nonprofit/indie theatre community was acknowledged last year when we received the Stewardship Award from the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation.


We are a very lean organization (annual budget under $100K), with one full-time staffer (Executive Director Martin Denton). He edits and our other websites, creates much of their content, and handles all web/systems development. The rest of our content (there’s nearly 56 megabytes of data within right now) is created by a team of volunteers, all theatre professionals in the nonprofit sector. They give freely of their time, writing reviews and other material, to spread the word about this diverse, inspiring, and underserved community.


NYTE is a Microsoft shop. (TechSoup donations make this possible, and we’re grateful for that!) We use Office Professional 2007 for all of our administrative tasks:  Word to compose documents and letters, PowerPoint for presentations, and our entire accounting system is programmed in Excel. We use MapPoint to geocode locations of more than 200 venues listed on (so that the maps on our website are more accurate than the ones Google would automatically serve based on address).


Visual Studio 2005 has proved truly transforming for our organization. All of the data that drives is on a SQL Server Express database. Using T-SQL and Visual Basic 2005, we have built a system that converts this data into XML files that in turn serve as the back end to


We love the flexibility this approach enables, and our budget loves its extremely low cost. Using XML means we don’t have to host SQL Server databases on the Net and we don’t have to worry about administering or securing them. We would have to pay people to do those jobs, or ask volunteers to assist in these tasks in lieu of creating content for the website—in other words, we would be diverting our very scarce resources from doing work that directly serves our constituency (reviews, listings, articles on We can’t afford to do that.


The SQL Server/VB 2005 system enables us to manage and mobilize our volunteers more effectively too.  One of the biggest projects we undertake each year is to review every show in the New York International Fringe Festival. We’ve been doing this since 2002, and it’s a vital service that fills a need no other outlet has ever been able to meet. FringeNYC is the largest multi-arts festival in North America, bringing together artists from around the world, who present about 1500 performances of over 200 diverse theatre, dance, puppetry, comedy, and dramatic productions in 20 venues in Lower Manhattan during a 17-day period in August. The festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors and was last year recognized by Mayor Bloomberg for its contributions to the city’s cultural and economic landscape. covers this festival comprehensively, starting with previews a month before the festival begins and continuing with reviews of every show, posted during the short span of the festival in August.


We accomplish our FringeNYC coverage with the same one full-time staffer plus about 75 volunteers and with no addition to our annual budget. How? We use a proprietary automated scheduling system, built originally in Access and now being upgraded to SQL Server, which allows our volunteers to choose shows online and submit reviews via email, all the while being tracked by the site’s editor from his desktop. Producers and festival staff receive automatic email notification when reviews are posted. Using VB2005, we’ve been able to add features such as tagging (to our FringeNYC previews) and direct ticketing links (to both previews and reviews) with no additional investment in infrastructure.


Microsoft technology also enabled us to add the “Trip Planner” to in 2007. This feature answers a question many visitors to NYC have: what shows will be running when I come into town? The SQL Server database consolidates information from all of the ticketing agents that service NYC theatres (TicketMaster, Tele-charge, TicketWeb, etc.) to produce a customized page that shows the reader exactly what shows are available during the period of interest. And the Trip Planner results include shows at all price points—small nonprofit/indie theater offerings as well as Broadway/off-Broadway hits.


The software we’ve received from Microsoft via the TechSoup donation program has enabled us to build a user-friendly, feature-rich website that promotes the work of hundreds of nonprofit theatre companies to an audience of 3 million people annually. It’s enabled us to grow and expand the site without having to invest thousands of scarce dollars in software/development; this in turn enables us to provide all of our services to our nonprofit constituents at no charge to them. The content on builds audience, sells tickets, and helps hundreds of NYC theatre companies stay afloat and focus on their mission. Rather than having to spend money and resources they don’t have on promotion and advertising, these organizations are able to innovate, experiment, and create new art, contributing to the diverse cultural landscape of the largest theatre community in America.

Submission Category

Optimize Mission Delivery


2009 Submissions Gallery

Submissions Gallery- Optimize Mission Delivery

Submissions Gallery- Stable and Secure Technology

Submissions Gallery- Transformations to Maximize Impact