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How to Secure Charitable Giving: The Role of Data Security in Device Donations Featured

How to Secure Charitable Giving: The Role of Data Security in Device Donations Lorenzo Herrera

Most organizations plan for the unexpected, but not many planned for a global pandemic that would trigger an instant shift to remote work, and the massive amount of extra IT equipment and devices that this sudden transition required. According to one of our research reports, 97% of 600 global enterprises surveyed had to purchase new IT equipment. Now, with the vast majority of businesses having readjusted their operations back to “normal,” many employees have found their way back to the office, but enterprises are still dealing with the pandemic’s IT aftermath, among which is device redundancy. So, what can be done with all of the extra devices now that workers are back in the office?

One way that enterprises can deal with this redundancy is by partnering with non-profits for charitable giving in order to help underserved communities; however, there are important considerations on both sides, such as data security best practices and a sustainability mindset, that need to be factored in to make these partnerships blossom and achieve successful results:

  • Finding the right fit -- Enterprises with redundant technology tend to be most motivated to contribute to non-profit organizations whose purpose and operations are synergistic with their corporate goals. For example, The Turing Trust, a charity that provides IT resources and training to schools in sub-Saharan Africa, is a non-profit that we as a business chose to partner with to support their cause. But there are a number of charities worldwide – e.g., World Computer Exchange (WCE), Computers with Causes, Cell Phones for Solders, etc. – that can be a match for various types of organizations seeking to meet the technology needs of underserved communities, from education groups to geographies where computer access is limited. One way that enterprises and non-profits can identify synergistic matches is through organizations that help charities in need find the specific equipment for donation – the Technology Donation Platform of the National Cristina Foundation is one such company.
  • Ensuring data security in the enterprise – When enterprises consider donating equipment, they must consider how to keep their own data secure. It may seem like a time consuming process to go through and eradicate all the data on devices earmarked for donation, but there are automated ways of doing so. For instance, enterprises that use software like ServiceNow to manage digital workflows for their operations can set up a data hygiene checkpoint as a step that’s triggered in their automated workflows. If a device is classified as “redundant” by an employee, it can be part of a default automated checklist to mark the equipment due for data sanitization before its reused or recycled. This step also streamlines the process for equipment donations from the perspective of data security. With devices that are known to contain particularly sensitive information, there are extra assurances that can help enterprises avoid physical destruction in lieu of reuse, or in this case, donation. A software partner that can provide a data sanitization certificate with an audit trail will add peace of mind for the businesses giving away equipment. Destroying perfectly functional devices to maintain data privacy is an outdated method and should be reevaluated, especially as sustainable business practices remain top of mind with discussions about the growing e-waste problem and climate change.
  • Bolstering data security at the charity level – To add an extra layer of security and to provide incentive for receiving donations, non-profits can also offer their own data sanitization assurances for device donations through software partnerships. For instance, The Turing Trust started out using freeware for erasing data from donated devices, but they were struggling to get interest from donor businesses as they were concerned about company data getting compromised. The non-profit then approached us to request free licenses, which we granted. The extra security measure helped donors feel more confident and more equipment donations started coming in. Since then, The Turing Trust has distributed more than 2,500 donated devices to schools across Africa. Enterprises that have excess equipment look favorably upon working with non-profits that can demonstrate advanced data security protocols.

There are many worthwhile charities that can leverage what we might consider out of date computers or assets that companies no longer need or use. Saving end-of-life hardware from landfill can not only benefit the environment from being spoiled by harmful chemicals and materials it can also help those underserved communities in many meaningful ways.

 Adam Moloney, CFO of Blancco

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