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Phone system worth $276,000 donated to nonprofit agencies


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A two-year-old, state-of-the art phone system donated to United Way of Bartholomew County will be made available to local nonprofits not housed at the Doug Otto Center.

Savings to the agencies — which could be $20 to $25 a month, or about half of current service costs — would come as a result of a package service deal with other nonprofits, according to Doug Otto, vice president and general manager of the Otto Center. Those cost savings can now be redirected to client services, he said.

Old National Bank donated the system, valued at $276,000, making it the bank’s largest in-kind gift in at least a decade, said Kathy Schoettlin, Old National’s community relations and social responsibility officer.

It had been used by Indiana Bank & Trust Co., which Old National acquired over the summer, she said.

Available for use

Nonprofit agencies interested in utilizing a telephone system donated to the United Way should contact Doug Otto, vice president and general manager of the Otto Center. Installation costs are estimated at about $200 for three phones, according to organizers.

Information: 375-2200.

She added that the donated phone system was not compatible with the one Old National uses in its banks. Old National had planned to sell the phone system until company officials heard there was a local need.

Chris Chandler, president of Central Communications in Columbus, which regularly services customer phones at the Otto Center, made the first contact with Old National’s information technology assets manager, Dan Nord, about the system. Chandler said he knew the local nonprofits could use it.

The donated system is expected to save Foundation For Youth up to $30,000, which is what the organization would have had to pay toward its own new phone system, Otto said. Savings at such levels are significant because nonprofits have been searching for new revenue streams in recent years to support their programs.

“The visibility and trust of United Way as a major leader in human services was what brought Old National to our door,” Otto said.

Chandler said the donated Zultys system “is the best that’s out there.” It offers features such as videoconferencing and also will allow agencies to speak to one another on an intercom-style system for convenience. That feature also means agencies can have fewer phone lines and save money, Chandler said.

The system currently is set to handle 250 phones at six locations but easily can be expanded at little cost, Nord said.

United Way President Mark Stewart said the bank’s gift is a very practical way to help others.

“Anytime we can create a system of additional efficiency,” Stewart said, “that’s a very good thing.”

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