How to propose a corporate digital equity program to your C-Suite

Barbara Toorens

This is Part 2 in our series on how to create a digital equity program, please read Part 1: How Every Corporation’s IT Department Can Close the Digital Equity Gap here.

Corporate IT donation programs that extend the life of high-quality IT devices have compounding positive impact in digital equity, waste reduction and CO2 emissions avoidance.  Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you on your way to launching your own corporate digital equity program to support community-based digital equity initiatives.

Align the digital equity initiative to your company’s priorities

Your first step toward pitching a digital equity program is to your C-Suite is to garner leadership support for the idea while creating a strong business case to show how this program aligns to the company’s mission, objectives and drives positive impact in the communities you work and serve.  

When creating the business case, it’s good to understand your company’s culture and priorities. You can find this sort of information through:

  • Company mission statement
  • Annual reports and letters to the shareholders
  • Social responsibility priorities and climate goals
  • Your managers and leadership teams
  • Fellow employees, is there a way to hold an informal survey? Perhaps on Slack, Teams or during an All Hands meeting?

Perhaps your company is invested in skills development, STEM education, financial literacy, or carbon reduction. With a little research, you can identify opportunities where your company’s high quality, pre-owned devices could get a second life through non-profit efforts that align to these goals.  

Remember to appeal to both the heart and mind when building out the business case. Some people respond well to a story, while others want to see hard data. Incorporating both will help strengthen your case.

As an example, by referencing data available through the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA)  you can find statistics around the digital equity gaps present in the communities your company work with and in.  

For instance, according to NDIA, in the state of Ohio,  

There are 354,278 unemployed individuals, of which at least 116,912 lack foundational digital skills. These individuals may not even begin to compete for an estimated 250,536 or 76.3% of job openings which require such skills.  

This clearly shows a digital divide, where access to IT equipment and resources can help bring employment opportunities.

If your company has established carbon reduction targets, you can use carbon calculators, such as the one created by Sage Sustainable Electronics which leverages the EPA’s Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator (EEBC), to calculate the expected carbon avoided by donating your assets. And finally, devices that are donated to registered 501c3 organizations in the US could qualify for tax breaks.*

Get your internal allies onboard.

Rolling out a corporate IT donation initiative involves various parts of your company. The more colleagues you can rally behind this idea, the better your chances of getting support from senior leadership.  

Think about involving folks from CSR, procurement, finance, marketing, and the tech departments. Schedule casual one-on-one chats with people from different teams. Share your vision, talk about how the program not only is good for society but can benefit the company through brand value increase, employee engagement, supporting sustainability goals. Consider tailoring the value proposition to the department you’re meeting with. Work through their questions and suggestions together to figure out what can realistically work. This collaborative approach helps gain momentum and support, bringing everyone along for the journey and makes the plan more tangible.

Find a cause or non-profit in need of devices.

When it comes to selecting organizations to support with a corporate digital equity program, companies have a few different options available to them.  A company can identify organizations that offer services in an area aligned to their core business or target customer.

For instance, a bank may choose to partner with a non-profit that specializes in financial literacy training for young adults. By providing the organization with IT equipment and financial education resources, the company is gaining brand recognition in the community and can reach new customer segments. Another example could be a software company interested in supporting STEM and computer science programs for workers in transition. They may partner with a local educational program or library that offers job reskilling programs and provide the IT equipment to learn coding classes.

Companies can also allow their employees to choose the causes to support. Employee choice has become a critical component in most corporate giving programs. According to America’s Charities (2022), close to 30% of employees have reportedly opted out of giving programs that pre-select the beneficiaries on their behalf. In response, companies are giving employees the option of what causes they wish to support. This enables companies to support causes that are important to their employees.

When you fail to connect employees to why their donations matter, you end up with transactional, rather than transformational, giving experiences. If you give employees access to support causes they are passionate about and connect them to the personal stories and social issues behind their favorite nonprofits’ work, you end up creating those ‘aha’ moments that transform employees from one-off fundraiser participants into passionate, repeat workplace donors, cause champions, and brand ambassadors” (Ford, 2022).  

If a company doesn’t have a non-profit in mind, Sage Sustainable Electronics can help in making recommendations where the demand meets the supply.

Note: it is ideal to contact a potential non profit organization after you have completed steps 4-6. Giving false hopes to an organization in need is never a good idea. However, it’s an excellent idea to present potential non profit organizations to your C-Suite when making the case for a digital equity program.

Explore what tech you can donate toward a digital equity program.

There are two primary issues to consider when determining which technology to donate to a non profit. The first question to answer is, “what types of devices will our chosen non profit benefit most from receiving?” And the second question is “what can we afford to give?” The first question is for the non profit. Oftentimes the devices donated to nonprofits are in non-working order or quite insufficient for their needs. The latter question is for your C-Suite. A common misconception about technology donation programs is that a corporation can “just give their used laptops to a nonprofit at no cost.” In reality, donating a device toward a second life comes with a hard cost.

For example, to donate one laptop, here’s what a corporation must chip in:

  • Potential remarketing revenue from the resale of this laptop. Typically IT departments will earn a commission on any gently used devices that are resold by their ITAD provider through a third party. If the laptop is donated, your company would be forgoing that potential revenue.
  • The hard cost to refurbish the laptop. In order to refurbish a laptop for a second life, your company’s ITAD provider performs a number of services (outlined in the next step). All of these services come with a hard cost.
  • The Logistics, Shipping and Packaging. For a laptop to be donation ready it must also be shipped to and from your corporate office, to an ITAD provider and then to the non-profit. Plus there is also packaging to consider.

Depending on where you sit within your corporate structure, you may need to present the donation program without the hard numbers of what your donation may entail. Unless, your CIO is on board. Having the CIO in your corner or potentially your IT Asset Manager, would allow you to crunch numbers and put a dollar figure toward the program.

Also, keep in mind, while you’re busy building the design of a digital equity program for your corporation, it’s essential to also consider the environmental impact. Calculating the carbon savings you stand to gain from reusing hundreds of laptops could tip the odds in your favor.

Most C-Suites at American corporations are now paying much closer attention to ESG standards. Your program could help them achieve these goals. When devices meet a second life, there is no need to create a brand new device. This amounts to an incredible carbon savings. You can run a quick calculation on how much carbon your donated devices would save using the Sage Reusable Yield Calculator. Pay attention to the carbon savings and feel free to use that number in your C-Suite pitch (coming up later).

Ultimately, understanding your organization’s philanthropic priorities and budget during the early stages of the process can help reduce issues later.

Understand the ITAD refurbishment process and find a provider.

Now that you’ve established why a digital equity program makes good business sense, and have support from key internal stakeholders, it’s time to think about the logistics of the donation process, and potential concerns that may arise. In order to choose the right provider, understanding the ITAD process is key. For example, some ITAD providers do not actually offer refurbishment services. If you work at a corporation with over 1,000 employees, you likely have an existing ITAD provider who could fulfill your donation program. However, you’ll need to make sure your existing ITAD provider is a trusted refurbisher.

Here are the key services that will apply to any corporate tech donation or digital equity program. You’ll want to make sure your ITAD provider checks all of these service boxes:


The best ITAD providers meet you where you’re at. For example, Sage Sustainable Electronics offers nationwide pick-up or drop-off through their network of partners enabling companies to have impact in every community their employees and customers are located. This not only encourages local community contributions but also reduces the environmental and financial impacts of long-haul movement of goods.


Data privacy is sure to come up in conversations when you’re pitching your digital equity program to your CIO, particularly if you work for a company that operates in a heavily regulated industry such as finance and healthcare.

The biggest data risks happen during transport and during the refurbishing process. To help ensure data is protected, extra security measures can be taken that includes chain-of-custody details.

When the devices arrive at a Sage refurbishment center, all data is wiped with BLANCCO and is NIST compliant. Organizations receive a full data-destruction report for their records.


Whether a device is destined for resale or donation, end-users are looking for a “like-new” experience. After the data has been destroyed, all corporate and individual identifiers such as asset tags and stickers are removed.

Devices are then professionally cleaned, using non-toxic cleaning agents and fully tested for complete functionality. When they have achieved their "like-new" condition, they are boxed in retail packaging complete with a user set-up guide.

Using Sage as an example again, all of our processed devices bound for non-profits come with a full 1-year warranty, beautiful packaging and a user guide. Also, Microsoft Windows can be installed at a substantial discount delivering a plug-and-play experience for the end-user. And because Sage is a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, all Sage device end users have free support from Microsoft.


Companies will receive data destruction reports along with a donation receipt for their records. If the receiving non-profit is a registered 501c3, there is a possibility that the donation qualifies for a tax break. Your company’s finance department would be a great partner to understand the possible tax benefits of donating devices.  


When the device reaches the end of truly functional life, an ITAD provider like Sage will take back the device for recycling at no cost to the donor or non-profit.

Pitch the program to your C-Suite.

With all the information you’ve gathered, you’re ready to pitch the C-Suite. Consider taking the similar approach to Step 2: Get your internal allies onboard. Meeting with each C-Suite leader can be time consuming, but it would be ideal to hear their concerns before presenting your idea.

Scenario 1: You have CIO Support.

When you present the idea, with CIO support, it’s key to have the following:

  • The right ITAD provider to fulfill the donation process.
  • The hard costs associated with the program.
  • Your potential non profit or non profits identified. Tell the story of how your donation would impact the organization, highlight their mission and really show how this connects to your corporate values and mission. You could also create your own internal donation program. Branded to your company, an internally driven donation program could be a part of a corporate foundation. Whatever it is! Show up with an irresistible idea that aligns with your brand.

Scenario 2: You do not have CIO Support

When you present the idea, without CIO support, it’s key to have the following:

  • At least one other member of the C-Suite on board. Ideally this C-Suite member can give the CIO a head’s up on the presentation and encourage them to be open minded.
  • The goal, of course, is to win over the CEO and the Board. Your CIO will feel encouraged once this support falls into place. Understand, again, for CIOs a digital equity program can seem risky if they don’t have a trusted ITAD provider.
  • Your potential non profit or non profits identified.

Your leadership team may have follow-up questions which your partners in other departments can help you answer. If you’ve identified an organization to support, and have buy-in from the C-Suite, it would now be a good time to consider providing an opportunity for them to meet with leadership and share how such a program is pivotal to their mission and the community.

We wish you the best on your digital equity journey. To learn more, or with any questions about how to create a program within your organization, please contact Carrie Large at carrie.large@sagese.com.Together, we can bridge the digital divide and build a more equitable and sustainable future.

* Speak to your finance department to explore the possibility of a tax benefit for donating to a 501c3.


America’s Charities (2022). Snapshot Employee Research: What Employees Think About Workplace Giving, Volunteering, and CSR.

Ford (2022). Transformational Workplace Giving Program Increases Employee Engagement and Participation. Charity.org.

Hart, J. (July, 2016). Carbon Emissions and Implications of ICT Re-use at the University of Edinburgh. Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability.

Kilgore, G. (July, 2023). Carbon footprint of a laptop vs MacBook vs Desktop Computer vs iPhone. 8BillionTrees.com.

About the author:
Barbara Toorens

From the narrow corridors of the informal electronics markets in Africa to the conference rooms of corporate CSR and ESG, Barbara Toorens has dedicated her career to navigating the crossroads of business performance, environmental sustainability, and social impact for a circular economy within the technology sector. Committed to shaping sustainable change at scale, she draws inspiration from the dynamic worlds of communications, strategy, marketing, partnerships, and change management to integrate CSR and ESG into core business priorities for non-profits, social enterprises, start-ups, and Fortune 100s. She writes on sustainability in the IT sector, strategic CSR, and cross-sector partnerships.

download for free
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.


Get in touch with us

most recent

download for free
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get Started. Reach Out Today.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.