Focus, Nonprofits, and Technology

Trivalent Group launches CompassionIT initiative

Goal is to help nonprofits with technology services

October 15, 2012
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Michigan nonprofits will be receiving a technological makeover this holiday season, thanks to jolly old Saint Trivalent Group.

The technology firm recently announced the birth of CompassionIT (pronounced “compassionate”), a philanthropic initiative that will give away thousands of dollars in technology and services to nonprofits.

The initiative is open only to Michigan-based, 501(c)3 nonprofits. Eligible nonprofits have until Oct. 31 to submit a nomination form at www.TGcompassionIT.com.

The submission process is designed to put the nonprofits through a proprietary survey “which gives us a picture of what’s going on with their technology,” said Dawn Simpson, vice president for marketing development. “Each submission will actually get that report, and that’s part of what we’re going to use with the selection criteria.”

Five finalists will be selected through a public vote and selection committee. The first-place winner will receive about $30,000. The other four finalists each will receive Trivalent Group assistance and free analysis of their technology systems, a package deal worth about $4,000.

Rounds of voting elimination will go through October and November. The winners will be announced Jan. 10, 2013.

Larry Andrus, CEO of Trivalent Group, said he will be on the selection committee, along with Phil Catlett, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan, Candace Dugan, 2011 Lakeshore Athena winner, and Bjorn Bylsma, senior systems engineer at Trivalent Group.

Andrus has been involved with several nonprofit boards and said Trivalent Group is giving $20,000 toward this event and expecting at least $10,000 from its financial partners. The event will enable Trivalent to not only help the nonprofits technologically, he said, but also create awareness for local nonprofits.

“If we’re successful in generating additional support, this will give these folks an awful lot of free publicity,” he said. “Then it will hopefully spark a consciousness for the nonprofit community.”

Every year, Trivalent Group launches a different theme — this year’s being “excellence” — and tries to work the theme into a professional development, Simpson said. Bylsma and Senior Systems Engineer Justin Vriesman developed the idea for CompassionIT, she said, and so far, it’s been a hit with the staff.

“We’re kind of building the bike as we ride it,” she said. “We’d love to see this take off and become an annual event.”

Bylsma said the idea came up after an internal development conversation about team learning activities.

“We wanted to use our expertise in IT as a means to provide benefit for someone else, but also to provide education in our own internal so we could have a better environment in our staff, as well.”

Technicians will work from the ground up, Bylsma said, revamping Internet connections, firewalls, email, software, security, wireless and every other technology aspect that could be of benefit. The goal to custom fit the technology for each nonprofit could take anywhere from a week to a month to complete, he said, but they will get it done.

Simpson said the work comes with no strings attached, so the nonprofits are not obligated to have an ongoing business relationship with Trivalent Group.

“We would love it if they wanted to become an ongoing client of Trivalent,” she said. “But it might not be the right fit for them, or they might already have a provider, and that’s fine.”

Trivalent Group has very generous employees who often try to support nonprofits, Simpson said. The event is also a good way to give junior Trivalent Group members a chance for more hands-on experience, she said.

“It seemed like a win-win all the way around,” she said. “We’re a very family-friendly organization with strong vision and values, and that is what it comes from. At the core of our organization, it’s really the individuals creating the culture.”

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