Connect to Compete, an initiative led by the FCC with help from private and non-profit organizations, gives large businesses and government agencies the opportunity to re-channel used, surplus computer equipment to help provide support to the one-third of Americans who lack a home PC or broadband internet access. Doing so helps support digital literacy, but it can also make a difference in an organization’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability goals.
Donating surplus equipment can help a company meet philanthropic goals while minimizing cash expense. By refurbishing and donating PCs, organizations can realize a “Giving ROI” of $5-$7 for every dollar invested, thanks to tax benefits and enhanced hardware value. Connect to Compete makes this ROI possible through a gift-in-kind donation program, which streamlines the process. Gartner, Inc., calls this effort a benefit for corporations looking to develop their corporate social responsibility in concert with a successful IT asset disposition strategy. Gartner recommends organizations leverage donation “for economical and environmentally and socially responsible PC asset disposition.”
Companies that refurbish and channel surplus IT to programs like Connect to Compete are also extending the life of IT equipment to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Reusing 1,000 computers, for example, saves enough energy to power 680 homes for a year and cuts enough greenhouse gases to equal removing 480 cars from the road for a year.
Additionally, channeling surplus IT to Connect to Compete ensures responsible recycling at end-of-life to prevent toxic e-waste exports. Through free “takeback” at the end of life, families purchasing a refurbished Connect to Compete computer can return them for safe and certified recycling. This means computers are recycled at the highest standards for environmental protection and global responsibility, including no export to developing nations, no e-waste toxins sent to landfills or incinerators, and no use of prison labor. For organizations, this removes their liability for the equipment.
Like most good CSR initiatives, supporting digital literacy is also good business. According to FCC Chairman Genachowski, decreasing the digital divide will increase the online marketplace, or America’s new Main Street, by 50 percent. Additionally, millions of Americans participating more fully in the digital economy will create an anticipated $32 billion in annual economic value. Improving digital literacy will also enable future employees to apply for jobs online. More than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies require online job applications, including companies like Wal-Mart, Target and Costco. But without a PC, a broadband connection and the skills to use them, millions of Americans are essentially shut out of these opportunities. By increasing the percentage of the population that has access to computers and broadband, companies can help produce a healthier economic landscape and a more educated, successful and globally competitive workforce for future generations. For organizations, supporting this endeavor is rewarded through positive public relations and brand affinity within the communities where their employees live and work.
Connect to Compete is a national effort that counts on the support of countless public, private and non-profit organizations during the next several years. Being a part of this initiative is not only important to the economic growth of America, it can also play a pivotal role in the strategic growth of an organization.
Jill Vaské is the Executive Vice President at Redemtech, the chosen provider of low-cost, high-quality refurbished computers for Connect to Compete, augmenting broadband access, training and technical assistance from other partners.