Microsoft taps giving chief – Brooks aims to plug in nonprofits

By Todd Cohen

REDMOND, WASH. — Bruce Brooks the former Seattle deputy mayor who is the new director of community affairs for Microsoft Corp. says a big challenge for the company will be to find ways to measure the impact that technology has on nonprofits’ productivity and mission.

“How do we know that providing software, hardware, and tech assistance to an organization is yielding the return that is ideal or close to ideal,” he asked.

Brooks assumes his new job just as Microsoft is concentrating more of its philanthropic resources on helping nonprofits make better use of technology.

A big challenge for nonprofits themselves, he said, is to team up with other nonprofits and use technology to combine their back-office operations and make them more efficient.

In the year that ended June 30, 1999, Microsoft gave more than $25.6 million in cash and $79 million in software to more than 5,000 nonprofits.

Of that total, 44 percent supported efforts to give communities and nonprofits better access to technology, and another 24 supported efforts to improve access to technology for colleges and universities.

Last year, Microsoft also supported the startup of community-based organizations in Seattle and Washington, D.C., to provide tech assistance to local nonprofits. It also has supported planning for a National Strategy for Nonprofit Technology that recommended creation of a Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network, or NTEN.

Brooks succeeds Barbara Dingfield, who retired. A former labor and employment lawyer with the Seattle law firm Perkins Coie and, most recently, a senior vice president for Seattle PR firm MWW/Savitt, Brooks was chairman of the board of directors of the United Way of King County from 1998 to 1999. Since 1996, he has been on the board of the $450 million-asset Northwest Area Foundation.

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