Mid West Spina Bifida Case Study

130 Spina Bifida Members & Families in the Mid West on Cloud 9 with Microsoft Office 365

  • €12,000.00 per annum in donation value with 130 Office 365 licences results in a direct IT saving 3,500
  • Office 365 helps build community and deeper engagement with members in just a few weeks of use with the assistance from Just Social

15 January 2015: Social Entrepreneur Sean Brady, andfounder of Not-for-profit organisation Just Social,has helped to put staff, volunteers, members and their families of the Mid-West Spinda Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association in the Cloud with the donation Microsoft Office 365. The donation of 130 licences is worth over €12,000.00 per annum.

“The direct cost saving of the Office 365 cloud solution, means charities do not need to invest in server hardware and upgrades, and benefit from significant savings on the annual costs of licensing users,” commented Just Social founder, Sean Brady.

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From left to right: Steven Casey, Sports Coordinator & Gillian O’Gorman Service Coordinator at Mid West Spina Bifida with Sean Brady, Co-founder of Just Social

Building Better Communities with Office 365:

Office 365 assists charities in creating an online community using this Social Platform which can be scaled to accommodate any number of users and can extend to the members and volunteers to enable them to be more connected with the organisation. This is key in building a strong charitable network, reaching those in need whenever and wherever you need to in a way that is meaningful and easy to access for them.

The Mid West Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association currently has four full-time staff, two community employment employees, volunteers and 103 members in the Mid-West area. Though based in Limerick, they provide services to members as far away as 80km with 50% of their members in Limerick, 25% in Clare and 25% in North Tipperary.

According to Gillian O’Gorman, Services Co-ordinator for the Mid West Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association, “The geography of our membership database challenged us into looking for a more efficient and cost effective method of communication. With this donation, not only did we realise significant cost savings, it has also enabled us to provide an online community to our members by creating a forum allowing for efficient two way communication between them and the association.”

There has been a good response in just a few short weeks since the new system got up and running. The team have been monitoring the stats for both the email and the new website member portal and since going live over 15% of email addresses have been accessed while 20% of members have accessed and engaged on the new membership portal on the website.

Sean Brady added,“With collaboration and communication services such as SharePoint, email and a calendar function built into Office 365, staff and volunteers are already seeing how they can achieve greater efficiency and further cost savings through the use of these important services.”

“Organisational benefits such as the shared calendar will allow members and staff to track and be reminded of critical appointments and other scheduled events. It will help everyone to better manage their time and the cost of doing day to day tasks. Sending out reminders by post or rescheduling missed appointments are great time and money wasters, with Office 365 in place these costs will be significantly reduced, delivering real value to not-for-profit organisations who can hardly afford these types of inefficiencies,” added Sean Brady.

Gillian O’Gorman also identified that a comprehensive cost effective communications strategy was lacking. Not only had costs increased 7.5% between 2012 and 2013, but postal and email addresses had also become defunct with families moving or addresses being recorded inaccurately and eventually lost. Also, other critical and timely information was not being communicated or received in a way which benefited either the staff or members and their families.

“For me, Office 365 was a neccessary step in the right direction for improving communication to and from members primarily. It will allow us to reduce adminstrative costs, increase our productivity and has already provided us with a more effective way of managing our physiotherapy appointments.”

“All staff have been trained on the email and calendar functions of Office 365 and effective from September all physiotherapy appointments are now online, however this is only the beginning for us! We hope to activate the text reminder function that Office 365 offers for all physiotherapy appointments, as soon as it is activated in Ireland, giving us greater ability to further improve our services and help usgain even greater effeciency for members, staff and our voluteers. Just Social and Office 365 have helped transform how we communicate and work with each other, it’s a no brainer for charities who are looking to increase efficiency and, more importantly, improve on how they communicate with their clients, staff and volunteers,” added Gillian O’Gorman.

About Mid West Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association

Mid West Spina Bifida & Hydrocephalus Association is a voluntary organisation run by the parents of our members. We provide services to children and adults with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. Spina Bifda literally means ‘split spine’ and is a birth defect involving damage to the spine and nervous system often resulting in paralysis of the lower limbs.

Hydrocephalus, known as ‘water on the brain’ and requires a valve to be inserted into the head to overcome a blockage that is preventing the free flow of fluid around the brain. 85% of those with Spina Bifida also have Hydrocephalus.

Services include physiotherapy, family support, wheelchair sports, counselling, parent & toddler groups,summer camps, information seminars, classes such as cooking, art, computers amongst other social activities.

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About Just Social

Just Social stands for Social Technology for Just Causes and is a non-profit organisation that helps charities to adopt Social Technology donations including Microsoft Office 365 Donation. Just Social was nominated by the Web Summit as the ‘Best IT idea for the NGO sector’ in 2012 & is funded by UCIT as a Social Enterprise. Just Social is proudly sponsored by CloudAssist, a certified Microsoft Cloud Deployment Partner and the leading Office 365 migration service provider in Ireland. Just Social is kindly supported by Holmes O’Malley Sexton solicitors and EY in Limerick.

Sean Brady is the Founder & Geek behind Just Social and can be contacted via the Twitter handle (@justsocial), charities in the Republic and Northern Ireland can register your interest on www.justsocial.org.  Sean’s blog on the Office 365 donation from Microsoft was recently published by Congregation and was titled “How the “Open Kitchen” metaphor can help Irish charities to prepare for the challenges of Social Technology adoption”. http://congregation.ie/blog-papers/how-the-open-kitchen-metaph.html  The blog talks about the importance of preparing a charity for Social Media adoption by reviewing internal policies ( such as Data Protection and Security ) and developing a charter for users before engaging so as not to be lured prematurely by the monetary value of Social Technology donations until the organisation is ready to be ‘Social’. Just Social has created a LinkedIn Support group called Office 365 Donation for charities to help make the most of this Social Platform.