Five minutes of Connecting Up history, with CEO Doug Jacquier

There are thousands of not-for-profit organisations in Australia dedicated to helping those in need - but who helps them?

That's where Connecting Up comes in. At the centre of this initiative is the desire to help not-for-profits communicate, collaborate, and have access to a variety of technologies and resources.

And at the centre of Connecting Up is chief executive Doug Jacquier. After 12 years with the organisation, Doug is now moving on.

In a recent interview, he discussed the highlights of his time with Connecting Up, shedding some light on how this organisation has evolved and grown over the years.

Where it all began

A social worker by profession, Doug was offered the role of chief executive in 2000, after his career had seen him work in jobs across the government community services, disability, training, consulting and not-for-profit sectors.

In the early years, Connecting Up (then CISA) generated its income from Government grants and  selling print directories and database updates of information around community services in South Australia.

However, it soon became clear that in order to maximise their service, they needed to move it online.

"The organisation itself has always been pretty much at the forefront of new things that were emerging in terms of electronic databases and we were one of the earliest not-for-profits to have a website, so other not-for-profits started asking us for help in these areas" Doug said.

From there, Connecting Up began to grow and evolve at a fast pace.

"By 2004 it was really clear that the wave was breaking over not-for-profits in terms of upgrading their technology and building websites," Doug explained.

"We called the first Connecting Up conference in 2004, and we thought maybe if 80 or 90 people turned up from across the country that would be a good thing , but 270 people turned up. And we thought, well, there's obviously a big demand for information in that area - and we've been running the conference very year since."

And then came DonorTec…

Connecting Up grew exponentially in the early 2000s, and things didn't slow down as the decade went on. 

In late 2004, Doug began to look around the world to get a feel for what other not-for-profits were doing, and this ultimately led to a partnership with a United States not-for-profit organisation called TechSoup.

"TechSoup were doing lots of good things in terms of technology information for not-for-profits, and in 2005 they launched a technology donations program," says Doug.

"We were talking to them a lot about the potential to bring that outside the US, and then in 2006 we negotiated an agreement to be the third country in the world to become a partner with TechSoup, who later became TechSoup Global."

As the old saying goes, the rest is history! Since launching DonorTec in 2007, Connecting Up has delivered over $150 million in technology donations from major companies like Microsoft, Cisco and Symantec to more than 15,000 Australian and New Zealand charities and not-for-profits.

"It was a huge undertaking. We started off very modestly and we are now the largest distribution partner of TechSoup Global after the US itself, so we've done extraordinarily well, I think."

Where to now?

Fortunately for the sector, Doug isn't completely retiring just yet. From 1 November, he will be working for TechSoup Global as a senior advisor, a job that he can do based from his home in Gawler.

"I'll be doing some work for them around innovation funding across the network and also looking at data services across the globe and see how we can get more effectively engaged in those areas," he said.

Before then, he is going on a much deserved holiday with his wife, Sue, who will no doubt be happy to have Doug around home more often.

"My wife and I have just got a nice little block here in Gawler and we are planting trees and growing veggies and doing all of those sorts of things that we've always wanted to have the time to do.

"It's time to put the foot on the break just slightly and smell the roses!"