Donating to Charity Safely and Effectively – Meet Social Responsibility Goals through Managed Hardware Remarketing

By Jill Vaske, Redemtech

For those of us who spend our days immersed in technology, it is hard to imagine what life is like for the one-third of Americans who lack a home PC or broadband Internet access. This digital exclusion creates major barriers to getting and keeping a job, succeeding in school, keeping up with family and social connections, and much more. It’s a problem that impacts about 100 million people in our country – one in every three Americans.

Surplus IT from corporations and government agencies can play an important role. Every year, U.S. businesses replace approximately 40 million computers. Most have years of useful life remaining, but are stowed away in warehouses and closets or prematurely disposed.

Defining Value

Getting a good return on surplus IT is a key issue for ITAM professionals. But how do you define value –

Is it just financial? Or is it better to get fair-market value combined with environmental and corporate social responsibility (CSR) benefits to deliver results on a triple bottom line?

At many companies, ITAM strategy focuses on jettisoning surplus IT as quickly as possible to minimize depreciation. This approach typically yields less-than-optimal residual returns. Reuse and value-optimized remarketing options improve financial returns significantly. An ideal disposition program would ensure fast turnarounds and fair market value on equipment while promoting:

  • Sustainability by ensuring the equipment has a long, functional, productive life after it leaves the organization and is ultimately disposed of properly at end of life; and
  • CSR by providing much-needed affordable technology for underserved communities – which can provide brand-building public relations as well as commercial opportunities.

To make this concept a reality, ITAM leaders need new remarketing options that are convenient and deliver the right mix of triple-bottom-line returns. A good example is the Federal Communications Commission’s new Connect to Compete program to improve digital literacy in underserved communities throughout the United States. It’s a good cause and a sensible business opportunity for everyone involved with ITAM.

Connect to Compete

Connect to Compete aims to help 25 million Americans get access to PCs and broadband service so that they can participate more fully in our digital society. Redemtech is the chosen provider of low-cost, quality refurbished computers, augmenting broadband access, training and technical assistance from other Connect to Compete partners.

Finding a way to supply participants with hundreds of thousands of computers and potentially millions, at an affordable price, presents significant challenges. To ensure low-income families can afford the PC, we determined we would need to remove intermediaries (brokers and resellers) from the sales cycle. This approach would ensure greater value for the seller and keep the price within reach of this market. By providing a direct sale, large businesses and government agencies can support this important cause without compromising financial returns.

Connect to Compete participants need and deserve a quality PC to help them on the path to digital literacy, and our professionally refurbished IT will provide a “like new” experience, including a warranty, technical support and other features. For equipment sellers, marketing surplus equipment as a branded ‘finished good’ creates more financial value than selling it at wholesale with minimal quality expectations. Redemtech will directly support the Connect to Compete initiative by contributing a portion of its proceeds from the resale of client surplus.

Connect to Compete addresses key issues in the ITAM community around compliance and illicit e-waste exports. First, Connect to Compete ensures a long, productive secondary life for surplus IT. It also removes uncertainty about chain of sale because surplus assets are transferred directly to Connect to Compete. To close the loop on environmental compliance, Redemtech is a certified e-Stewards recycler and a free takeback program is provided to ensure responsible recycling at end of life.

Supporting Corporate Social Responsibility

Connect to Compete also creates opportunities for ITAM professionals to support broad corporate CSR strategies. Rather than having used equipment disappear into secondary markets, ITAM leaders can contribute to an important cause by helping disadvantaged Americans Connect to Compete. The FCC has created a powerhouse team, including Microsoft, Comcast and many others, to make the program a success.

While Connect to Compete is primarily a remarketing channel, it also offers donation opportunities. Companies can make a gift-in-kind by donating equipment to the program which streamlines the doantion process for businesses, government agencies and other organizations. When corporations fund the refurbishment of donated PCs, they can realize a Giving ROI of $5 – $7 for every dollar invested.

The approach we developed for Connect to Compete is getting positive reviews. A new Gartner report says the FCC’s Connect to Compete initiative could benefit enterprises “…looking to develop a successful ITAD strategy in concert with their corporate social responsibility (CSR) organizations” and recommends enterprises consider leveraging the program “…for economical and environmentally and socially responsible PC asset disposition.”

We also look forward to input from the ITAM community. We have crafted our approach based on the insights gained through many of our customers and colleagues over the years. ITAM professionals can make a big impact on the success of the program, and we look forward to your feedback.