A volunteer talks to visitors on the USS Midway, a floating museum in San Diego, Calif. Photograph: The Midway Museum
On an idyllic, bluebird day in downtown San Diego, visitors to the USS Midway Museum come aboard the historic aircraft carrier to learn about its 47 years of service history in the United States Navy. At any given time, 50 or so volunteers are welcoming and hosting museum visitors as they experience the ship’s mission: “That freedom is worth defending and preserving at home and far out at sea.”
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization,” says Midway Foundation president Laura White. “We have over 700 active volunteers that make our mission come to life. They are basically another set of our employees, and we wouldn’t be able to do the work we do without them.”
But the museum had two separate IT systems and processes: one for managing volunteers and another for managing monetary donors. “A patron would give us a cash gift and I would pull up a record and have no idea the relationship they had with our organization. Yes, maybe they gave a $5,000 cash donation, but they’ve also been volunteering every Saturday for the last 18 years. It was just impossible to know.”
During the Covid pandemic, the USS Midway expanded their virtual programming to individuals across all 50 states in the United States. However, as the USS Midway Museum prepares to celebrate their 20th anniversary in 2024 and embarks on their largest capital campaign in their history, they knew it was more critical than ever to modernize their systems and processes.
Globally, libraries and museums – like the USS Midway – play a critical role in the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage around the world. They also provide critical social infrastructure services like job search assistance, children’s programming and internet access in the communities where they operate. These organizations need affordable, modern technology and consistent licensing. And, like most organizations, they are being asked to do more with less.
Known for their physical locations and often hands-on experiences, museums and libraries have been hit hard during the pandemic era, with even more economic headwinds to come. According to UNESCO, museum revenues dropped 80% from 2019 to 2021. And the American Alliance of Museums states that 56% of US museums had to lay off staff, and 60% of museums said operating performance had fallen 40% or more during the pandemic. We saw similar trends when libraries had to close their doors during the pandemic, resulting in staff lay-offs and a shift to more digital services for their patrons.
We believe technology can help.
Aligned to our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, Microsoft provided over $3.2 billion in technology discounts and grants to more than 300,000 nonprofit organizations globally in our fiscal year 2022. But we can do more, and Microsoft is recommitted to doubling the number of nonprofits we serve over the next five years.
In line with that goal, Microsoft is excited to expand its nonprofit technology offers to public libraries and public museums around the world. Building upon our long history of supporting nonprofit museums, these newly eligible organizations, including over 2 million libraries across 99 countries, can further their mission by allowing technology to do more with less, to extend their reach, increase their engagement and leverage efficiencies in their workflow. Eligible organizations can get discounts for products like Microsoft 365 that includes Teams, Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint; as well as Azure, Dynamics 365, Power Apps and even Surface devices. Libraries and museums will also be eligible for our industry-leading grants that encompass Microsoft 365, Azure and Dynamics. And to help all nonprofits reach new visitors, donors and volunteers, Microsoft Advertising is offering a $3,000 monthly grant on its owned-and-operated digital search and native advertising platforms like Bing.
In addition, we now have solutions built specifically for the nonprofit sector in Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit, including Fundraising and Engagement, Volunteer Management, and Volunteer Engagement, with new features released earlier this month.
Public libraries and public museums will also have access to on-premises licenses for computer labs and other public access devices. Grants of Microsoft Office Standard, Windows Professional, Project Standard, Publisher, Visio Standard and Visual Studio Pro are offered for shared-device scenarios (computer training labs, for example) and available only from TechSoup, an international network of 65 partner organizations that facilitates software grants for nonprofits, charities and NGOs in 236 countries and territories.
White says the USS Midway Museum is looking for a “fresh start,” which is why they have recently chosen the Microsoft platform and Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit for their donor and volunteer management needs. With Fundraising and Engagement built on Dynamics 365 Sales, together with Volunteer Management and Volunteer Engagement, the organization can work off a common platform instead of multiple solutions.
“It’s kind of a dream for fundraisers and for those of us that are building different relationships throughout the ship to be able to know that a person is a member, a donor, a prospect for a campaign, a volunteer AND an original board member. All of a sudden, these dots are all coming together!”
White also noted that since the museum was already using other Microsoft applications – like Outlook – the staff and volunteers with varied technology backgrounds were able to feel a familiarity between existing Microsoft cloud products and new solutions, providing a sense of comfort with the programs with which they work.
With Microsoft Partner MISSION CRM, the selection committee at USS Midway quickly realized how the technology can be an extension of their staff. “We can set up campaigns and business processes, and the technology is like an additional staff person. This is really like having more hands in the department. And every nonprofit needs that,” says White.
“We want to be America’s living symbol of freedom. The best way to do that is to stay relevant – use technology like Microsoft Dynamics 365 to bring our data together, allowing us to stay connected to all of our constituents.”
Learn more about nonprofit offers from Microsoft and get started today: aka.ms/nonprofits