NEWS
04/03/2012 07:08 EDT | Updated 06/03/2012 05:12 EDT

Right To Play benefits from technology gift, looks to reach more kids in need

TORONTO - Combine good technology with good intentions and the possibilities are endless.

At least that's the hope of Right To Play as it plans to make the best use of the philanthropy of Polycom Inc.

Toronto-based Right To Play is an international humanitarian organization that looks to use sport and play to give hope and teach essential skills to children in regions ravaged by war, poverty and disease.

Polycom is a California-based company, with offices in Canada, that used video conferencing and other technology to bring businesses and people together.

Polycom is donating that expertise to Right To Play, allowing it to vastly increase its outreach to countries far afield.

"We're obviously extremely thrilled about this partnership," said Laura Ryder, Right To Play's global director of communications and corporate sponsorships.

"It's going to open up so many opportunities for our communication and for us to get our message out, reinforce our training, provide really innovative opportunities for our donors. And I think just really be innovative as well, which is something we pride ourselves on. . . . Polycom is similarly innovative and we think it's just been a real perfect fit."

So how will it work?

Currently, Right To Play is involved in more than 20 countries. That means sending staff overseas to train locals on how to implement the group's programs on the ground.

Based in Toronto, that training team numbers just three to four.

Thanks to Polycom's video conferencing system, a lot of that can now be done without packing a bag.

"This obviously saves us time. It saves us a lot of travel. It saves us all those things," Ryder said in an interview. "But it also allows us to have more contact. Because if you can imagine again going from Thailand to Africa to the Middle East, it's an extensive amount of travel and time involved.

"The Polycom systems will allow us to speak more frequently with our people on the ground and sort of refresh that training, maybe have discussions about any other number of issues that we might want to deal with at a local level, face to face without having to travel or have exchanges over email.

"That's a huge asset for us and something that hasn't been available before."

It will also allow for Right To Play officials in Toronto to take part in, say, a regional meeting in Africa that has drawn people from across the continent.

The partnership involves hardware and infrastructure, with the hope that the systems can be turned online later this year, perhaps in August.

Polycom is also offering its in-house expertise. Its Toronto office is just two blocks from the Right To Play's international headquarters so Ryder's people can easily take advantage of its facilities.

In making its pitch to Polycom, Right To Play essentially proved its point.

Its CEO, Olympic gold medallist speedskater Johann Olav Koss, was in the Netherlands. Ryder and others were in Toronto. Polycom officials were on different continents.

"And we all came together on videoconferencing," Ryder said.

The technology also allows Right To Play a chance to give donors a window into its programs, showing them at work and event talking to the children benefiting from them.

Ryder see "some really amazing potential opportunities to use the technology."

Previously the not-for-profit organization has looked to use everything from email to Skype to connect the dots.

Ryder recalled being at one Polycom meeting where there were eight to 12 video screens in front of her.

"It's top of the line," she said,

Right To Play did not put a dollar value on the Polycom technology contributions, although a separate fundraising event at a Polycom conference in Orlando, Fla., raised an additional $45,000 for the organization.

Right to Play and Polycom were matched by EFCSR (Entrepreneurs Foundation Corporate Social Responsibility), a U.S.-based non-profit public charity that encourages corporate philanthropy.

The two's only previous link was a Polycom phone device for conference calling that was in the Right To Play boardroom.

Right To Play expects weekly participation in its programs to surpass one million children this year.

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Right To Play

www.righttoplay.com

EFCSR (Entrepreneurs Foundation Corporate Social Responsibility)

www.efcsr.org