Inside the NetHope Global Virtual Summit
- Posted on November 2, 2020
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
The NetHope Global “Virtual” Summit 2020 took place this week and was a resounding success. The Summit is near and dear to us at Avanade, since it was where we launched our Tech for Social Good business at the Dublin Summit in 2018. This was (of course) NetHope’s first virtual Global Summit, so there were many unknowns for the delegates, and I dare say the organizers too. However, taking the summit onto a virtual platform meant that many more nonprofit teams were able to attend. This year, over 1,300 people registered for an event that would have been 500-600 strong in-person, so there was easily double the capacity.
We witnessed amazing keynotes during the week — one of my favourites was Anita Bhatia, the Assistant Secretary-General for Resource Management, Sustainability and Partnerships and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Anita spoke very eloquently about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women around the world—and how the impact has been more noticeable on women and children in both the developed world and the developing world. During lockdown in the “developed world,” home schooling became the responsibility of more women than men, who had to juggle this alongside their regular jobs and working from home. While in the developing world, we saw an increase in underage marriage, thought to be due to families saving costs by marrying their daughters without the need for big ceremonies. Her talk touched me personally because this is a topic which is close to my heart and a big focus here at Avanade. Through initiatives such as our STEM Scholarship we help disadvantaged female students to successfully complete their STEM education. Anita also talked about The Generation Equality Forum, a civil society–centred, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. Anita encouraged us all to get behind the initiative.
There were many great speakers across the board, including our Avanade sessions. On Monday, I was delighted to join a breakout with the CEOs of Junior Achievement Worldwide and Junior Achievement Europe: Asheesh Advani and Salvatore Nigro. Avanade has partnered with JA for several years, and I was pleased to hear Asheesh comment that our great relationship is due to both of our organizations being purpose driven with a desire to make a genuine human impact, and prepare young people, the next generation of business leaders to succeed.
On Tuesday, my colleague Andrew Borg from our Advisory practice at Avanade led a session around Virtual Engagement. The panellists; Akhtar Badshah, University of Washington, Eleanor Meyer, NetHope and Jeremy Pitman, Microsoft Tech for Social Impact—along with Carol Gobby, Tech for Social Good business Australia, and myself talked about how everything being virtual has actually deepened relationships in many ways because now we know our work colleagues’ family and pets, and are welcomed into their homes daily. It also enables us to continue our engagement and continue to innovate despite being apart. There was great audience participation through a series of polls, and Andrew concluded by giving a sneak peak of our Avanade Virtual Engagement Experience (VEE).
Day three saw Avanade sharing the stage for a plenary with UNICEF Netherlands to talk about the work we have been conducting together with Microsoft. Innes Grant, who leads our nonprofit business here at Avanade, opened the session and talk about our focus on developing unique solutions for the nonprofit sector, which are relevant, affordable and reusable—meaning that a solution developed with one nonprofit can be easily adopted by another nonprofit. This was also a key mission of UNICEF Netherlands, to develop a solution for constituent engagement that can be re-used by other nonprofits. We invited NetHope Members to register their interest to join us for a workshop to dive deeper into how UNICEF Netherlands are using Dynamics 365 and the Customer Insights solution—there was indeed a lot of interest!
In closing, it really feels that whilst COVID has been a tragedy in so many ways, it has also been a driving force for nonprofits to digitize. We saw lots of examples during the Summit of how nonprofits are using digital for virtual fundraising, delivery of programs and services and engagement—and the great thing is that everyone is really embracing it. We embrace the sentiment shared by Microsoft for other tech companies to join the summit and support the sector—it is one of the most scalable ways we can be good stewards by serving nonprofits and their constituents, and of course, these are incredible opportunities to make a genuine human impact.
Congratulations to NetHope and thank you for a fantastic first virtual Global Summit!