Who Says Charity Begins at Home?

Simon Richards
Written by: Simon RichardsPublished: May 4, 2017

For charity and not-for-profit organisations raising funds is a well-documented challenge but many of these organisations also struggle to keep their IT costs and administration time under control. Often these organisations have multiple, widely dispersed local offices and centres. Every cent spent keeping the technology on these desktops working is money not spent on the organisation’s chosen good causes. But in this battle, many organisations are now turning to virtual desktops and IGEL Technology for desktop solutions that supports the needs of their staff, and sometimes their clients, without busting the budget.

St Michael’s House wanted to upgrade its workstations to centralise management and secure client data centrally for more than 100 care centres and independent living locations around the Dublin area in Ireland. The voluntary organisation, which provides community-based services for people with an intellectual disability, turned to IGEL Technology for a thin client solution and discovered many additional benefits.

Before its technology upgrade, St Michael’s House was struggling to manage 250 aging PCs distributed across its units with local data storage and a mix of dial-up and broadband connections. After moving to a Citrix virtual computing infrastructure, the team ran an IGEL thin client proof of concept, guided by the support company, and quickly saw that there were huge performance advantages with the IGEL devices. The other big win was the IGEL management software. All the devices can be managed centrally with a few simple point and clicks. In terms of cutting management overhead, The St Michael’s IT team said they had “never seen any other thin client management software come close to its capabilities”.

Today, St Michael’s House has around 130 IGEL thin clients deployed and is slowly replacing more and more PCs as budgets allow. Over time the organisation is aiming for 80% of all its remote location desktops to be IGEL thin clients. The devices are connected to a server farm using Citrix XenApp and users access their office and clinical applications via a virtual desktop with some published apps. All data is stored and accessed centrally, rather than on the local desktops, ensuring client data is held far more securely than ever before.

IGEL Universal Desktop thin clients have also been used for the past seven years to support the Crisis charity’s UK Crisis at Christmas initiative, designed to help the homeless over the holiday period. As well as warmth, companionship and three hot meals a day, guests at the centres receive healthcare and specialist advice on housing, work, and benefits and are encouraged to take up the life-changing opportunities on offer at Crisis centres during the year ahead.

The IGEL thin clients are used at each London location as Video Call Kiosks to allow homeless guests to get in touch with friends and family and to consult with Crisis specialists at other locations to help improve their situation. The remaining IGEL devices are used to provide access to email, word processing, and collaboration tools to enable Crisis charity volunteers to communicate and identify shelter for homeless people over the Christmas period, as well as for homeless visitors to access the internet for information and communication.

Each year, the Aimar Foundation funds and sets up the information systems network, with help from global IT companies and principally Morgan Stanley. In total, 200 technology professionals and volunteers set-up the vital communications network in a 48 hour period. They say they use the IGEL thin clients because of the speed and simplicity of setting up the desktop devices, in multiple locations, in just a few hours. Charity may begin at home but when it comes to cutting technology costs and reducing administration time for charities – it begins on the desktop. Why not download 3 free IGEL Desktop Converter (UDC) licenses now to trial just how simple and effective IGEL solutions can be?

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