TSG Contributors Summit One Year Later—The TSGN Network Comes of Age
This is the third of a four-part series in which you will find excerpts from twenty participant impact evaluations provided one year after the February 15, 2011 TechSoup Global Contributors Summit. (See the just published Stanford Social Innovation Review blog post for a Summit overview.)
With all due modesty, a big win for many Summit participants was getting to better know and appreciate the TechSoup Global Network. It is one thing to look at a website that claims to represent a network that operates in 40 countries. It is something else again entirely to meet Valter Cegal from ATN in Brazil or John Fung from HKCSS in Hong Kong or David Barnard from SANGONeT in South Africa or Jane Zhang and Tonya Surman from Techsoup Canada or Shu-fang Tsai from Frontier Foundation in Taiwan. These are formidable leaders, both in their own regions and within the Network.
“By attending TechSoup Global’s Contributor’s Summit, I gained a far greater appreciation on the depth and breadth of TechSoup’s talents and capabilities… TechSoup’s NetSquared communities offer connections to both technologists and civil society organizations in many countries around the globe. Our Civil Society 2.0 TechCamps serve as a convening of these two groups, so it only made sense that we start to look to TechSoup as a partner in this area. We are even now teaming up with TechSoup to work on TechCamp Sarajevo in October around Accountability and Transparency.”
“I got from it a closer working relationship with TSG, based on a richer understanding of the organization…. And I also received increased visibility in TSG network, with us subsequently running MSFT I4G event as well as Internet Society event, both directly stemming from the Summit exposure.”
The Summit was our way of ‘upping the ante’ with some individuals and organizations we perceived as potential key partners in the future. We’d been fascinated by Random Hacks of Kindness’ effective methodology for inspiring and organizing hacks for social change. We’d just gotten to know RHok founder Todd Khozein, and were excited that he accepted our invitation to attend. Let Todd pick up the narrative from here.
“RHoK's partnership with TSG grew directly out of the Summit, there is no question. I had the opportunity to previously meet and be deeply impressed by Marnie, who gave me the best possible impression one person can give of an institution. But one person, regardless of how amazing they might be, does not necessarily create the institutional respect that is essential for partnership. When I saw the Contributors’ Summit request, though, and that TSG had invited someone to speak about RHoK there, given my curiosity about TSG, I chose to go myself to represent RHoK. That was where I met Daniel and numerous other TSG staff and where I was able to have a glimpse of the culture of TSG and see the community it has attracted. I was really there not only to speak about RHoK (one of our local partners could have easily done that), but really to see where a partnership between the two could bear fruit. Getting to meet some of the TSG staff, meeting their partner organizations, seeing the larger community and listening to the conversations as well as observing the organization of a TSG event would ultimately provide critical evidence that this was an organization that I could trust and with which I would have the confidence to build a lasting partnership. …. This year we will launch our partnership between RHoK and TSG and we have very hopes for what the future can bring.”
“The biggest change is that I now approach these (TSGN partner) organizations with a much stronger sense that we could work together, and more importantly, I have confirmed that TechSoup knowledge and network can help me and Telecentre.org to achieve more meaningful results, because TS makes its network available to us.“
Chris Worman had already proven a dynamic TSGN partner, starting TechSoup Romania. But it’s a big network and hard to ‘know’. For Chris, and other partners, the Summit sparked an entirely different level of interaction.
“For some of us, this was the first opportunity to meet regional partners and learn about each other's skills and motivations within the context of TechSoup and IT&C for Development. Inspired by the Summit, we decided to convene our own regional meeting of Central and Eastern Europe partners. The event took place the following May in Budapest and set out to explore how we could do more together cross-border and in-region, leading to several new initiatives in shared content and community. Before the Summit we at TechSoup Romania had decided to explore a local iteration of the TechSoup Challenge model in partnership with the San Francisco team. The event offered important offline time to the launch of the Challenge which became known as RestartRomania and which tested several 'new' concepts for TechSoup including a one-country, non-English Challenge, managed largely by a partner on a new site. Through Restart we engaged more than 100,000 Romanians in the social-change-through-technology dialog – unprecedented numbers for an open-society campaign in Eastern Europe. It was a lot to work through and there were hurdles along the road which we were able to clear with a relative amount of grace due to the time we had been able to spend with the US Team at the Summit. That personal time - in the same time-zone - to cover the basics proved a vital trust-building exercise. Today we are on to our third Restart Challenge and working on launching others across the region, all firmly rooted in the Summit and what emerged in its wake.”
(This four-part series on the TSG blog about the Contributors Summit continues Monday. For a Summit overview, see the just published post on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.)
photo by Clara Azulay