Microsoft Citizenship Blog

  • How many people does it take to make a difference? Just one. That person can be you...

    By Lori Forte Harnick, general manager, Citizenship & Public Affairs

    Today is a good day to remember that it takes just one person to have a positive impact on another person’s life. 

    Today is #GivingTuesday and as part of our ongoing YouthSpark initiative, we’re rallying support for young people around the world. 

    Would you like to make a difference in a young person’s life? If so, we’d like to help.   

    Starting at 9 a.m. Pacific Time today, Microsoft will match donations — dollar for dollar — that are made to nonprofit organizations serving the needs of youth at We’re also offering Microsoft Store shoppers a $25 donation gift card with any purchase. 

    How can you change a young person’s life? How can you help them get the education they need? Open doors to new opportunities? Spark their passion to discover and create and change the world for others? 

    Find out today at and let us help…let us double the impact you can make today in a young person’s life.

    Thank you.

  • Help your favorite nonprofit get a software donation

    Today we’re announcing updates to our nonprofit software donations program to enable more nonprofits around the world to get easier access to the technology they need, when they need it.

    While we currently provide software donations to over 40,000 nonprofits each year, we’re just getting started and we need your help.

    Many nonprofit organizations, including some in your local community, are not aware that they can request a donation of Microsoft software.  Help us spread the word.   Together, we can ensure nonprofits have access to affordable technology to help them do more with their limited resources.

    There are two ways you can help:

    1)      Share the video (below) with your colleagues, friends and family to raise awareness of a great resource available to nonprofits.

    2)      Make your cause our cause: Reach out to your favorite nonprofit and make sure they’re aware of the Microsoft donations program.  To make it as easy as possible, we’ve drafted a note below that you can use.

    To those who have already helped, a big thank you from everyone at Microsoft!


    To my favorite nonprofit:

    I think the work you do in our community is amazing.  I know how challenging it is to try and do more with less.   

    So how can you boost productivity, raise more funds, increase your reach, and deliver new or better services in our community? How about a donation of software from Microsoft? I wanted to make sure you know that eligible nonprofit organizations can request a software donation.  There are still many nonprofits that don’t know about the donations program.  Do you?

    Eligible nonprofit organizations can choose from a wide range of Microsoft desktop and server products (including Office and Windows).  Check out to see what’s available and learn how to apply.  In fact, if you are in one of these 35 countries with a local TechSoup program, you may be able to get technology donations from other companies too, like Cisco, Symantec, or Adobe.

    Maybe you already knew all this.  If so, that’s great.  I want you to keep doing good stuff in our community, and know that access to the latest technology can help.  It would be great if you could share this note with other nonprofits too.

    By spreading the word, together, we can help millions of nonprofits get access to the technology they need to best serve communities worldwide.


    Your supporter

    More information:

  • Meet the Imagine Cup students turned social entrepreneurs


    This week Dominik Tomičević from Croatia, Jason Mitsuyuki Wakizaka from the United States, Francisco Perez from Ecuador, and Mohammad Lu’ay Alazzam from Jordan were playing with the very latest Microsoft technology – in this case our new Microsoft Surface - in Davos, the Swiss village that hosts the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. They were in Davos as representatives of the four teams who have been chosen as the inaugural recipients of the Microsoft Imagine Cup grants program.

    The Imagine Cup Grants program is a three-year, $3 million competitive grant program to help Imagine Cup participants take their ideas and their projects and transform them into a business or nonprofit that can bring the benefit of their technology to the communities that need it most.

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    The students were in Davos to meet with Microsoft Chairman, Bill Gates and to participate in a roundtable discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing young people today. (We’ll have a report on that coming very soon.)

    The winning teams were chosen from 50 applicants that competed in the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals last year in New York City. A judging panel of eminent industry experts from the worlds of technology, venture capitalism, software development, startup culture, and the nonprofit sector ranked each team based on specific criteria including project impact and viability, and team quality and motivation.

    The judges included: Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Global Community Affairs, Microsoft Corporation; Peter Cowhey, Dean: Qualcomm Endowed Chair in Communications and Technology Policy, School of International Relations and Pacific Studies: University of California, San Diego; Tim Draper, Founder and Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Debra Dunn, Advisor to Social Ventures, Skoll Foundation; Edward G. Happ, Global Chief Information Officer of International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Chairman of NetHope; Zeev Klein, General Partner, Landmark Ventures; Dan’l Lewin, Corporate Vice President: Strategic and Emerging Business Development, Microsoft Corporation; Jeff Raikes, Chief Executive Officer, Gates Foundation; and Ann Winblad, Managing Director, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners

    While the judging process was very difficult, the winning projects are fantastic, and they show the incredible potential of providing young people with the skills and the opportunity to make a difference.

    Here’s some more about the four winning teams:

    Team Apptenders from Croatia: KiDnect

    Ivan Antonic, Ivan Borko, Karmela Bresan, Dominik Tomicevic (pictured)

    KiDnect is a Kinect-based solution for on-premise and remote physical therapy for children, especially those born with Cerebral Palsy. This software has the ability to monitor a child’s exercises to ensure they are being completed correctly, and then provides statistical analysis to the therapist. Team Apptenders hopes to add multilingual interfaces in order to integrate additional sensors for limb rotation monitoring and advanced data analysis.

    Team Falcon Dev from Ecuador: SkillBox

    José Vicente Anilema Guadalupe, Gerardo Francisco Pérez Layedra, Henry Javier Paca Quinaluiza, Juan José Morales Ruiz

    SkillBox is an affordable solution to help children who are hearing impaired by translating all audio received from a teacher in a classroom into sign language. A wireless headset captures the sound, sends it to the computer and SkillBox then shows the corresponding sign for the word or phrase.  Team Falcon Dev hopes to take their first step in making SkillBox available to children by selling their technology solution to public schools in Ecuador.

    Team OaSys from Jordan: Horizon

    Hani AbuHuwaij, Mohammad Azzam, Monir Abu Hilal, Mohammad Saleh, Yousef Wadi

    Horizon is a software and hardware system that allows people who do not have use of their hands/arms to use a computer. Specifically, it tracks head movements and translates these movements into mouse movements. Users get full control of a computer and a cellphone, and can browse the internet, type and connect with ease and at a low cost. Team OaSys hopes to improve the software stack by optimizing and adding features, pilot client lab preparations and hire sub-contractors.

    Team LifeLens from the United States: LifeLens

    Tristan Gibeau, Cy Khormaee, Wilson To, Jason Wakizaka, Helena Xu

    Lifelens is an innovative point-of-care tool to diagnose malaria using an augmented Windows Phone application. The project addresses the unacceptably high child mortality rates caused by the lack of detection and availability of treatment of malarial diseases. Team Lifelens is ready to develop their project for launch. They will use the investment for distribution of their devices, subsidizing the phones and field testing.

    So what about you?

    Right now, students can register to be part of Imagine Cup 2012 and can sign up in any of eight different categories. From designing brand new technology in Software Design to building gadgets through the Kinect Fun Labs Challenge, there is something for every student to enjoy. Who knows - your team could be the next group of students Microsoft funds through the Imagine Cup Grants!


  • Connecting nonprofits to the Microsoft employee giving campaign

    Kevin Espirito, Senior Manager, Employee Engagement Programs

    The culture of giving at Microsoft is deeply rooted in our culture with our employee giving programs beginning in 1983 and growing each subsequent year. Last year our U.S. based employees raised over $96 million for nonprofits, however many non-profits don’t know how to take advantage of our employee giving programs.

    We regularly get questions about how an organization can get on “the-list.” Of course there is no list. Our employees dictate which organization their matching funds go to. The programs are open to any 501c3 or educational institution based in the United States. Although political and religious organizations don’t qualify for our matching programs, there are exceptions such as if a religious organization has a secular program.

    Last fall, in an effort to help provide nonprofits with more transparency to our employee giving programs, we launched our first giving program information session. The sessions are designed to educate both non-profits and our employees on how they can fully leverage Microsoft’s giving programs to benefit their causes. After seeing a standing room only venue at our first session last September, we knew that these sessions were popular but more importantly they were needed. Based on that experience we have launched a quarterly program of sessions where nonprofits and employees can come and find out more about the Microsoft employee giving program and yesterday we held our third such session in the Microsoft store in Bellevue, Washington.


    Attendees at the Bellevue event.

    Cole Hoover Director of Programs at Lumana attended the event: "For me the event was a great chance to get to talk to people whose job it is to make the intimidating prospect of building relationships within Microsoft seem a little bit more accessible and human. It also provided me with a ton of information that I do not think my Microsoft donors and volunteers were aware of. I am excited to share with them what I have learned and use the tips from the informational session to craft a better strategy for this October. Last year we felt that it would be hopeless to try to navigate Microsoft to find supporters for our cause but this year after attending the session we are excited to get started."

    I have the pleasure of seeing employees creating change inside and outside of Microsoft every day. To be able to see these sessions come to life with engaged nonprofits who are learning even more about Kinecting, sorry connecting, to our employees is inspiring. Here at Microsoft, our employees’ innovation never stops, even when it comes to giving. We’re planning to continue hosting these sessions through the year to serve as a bridge between our employees and non-profits serving our communities.

    Kevin Espirito

  • Microsoft’s Commitment to Addressing Climate Change

    By Steve Lippman, Director of Corporate Citizenship at Microsoft

    In the recent past, we’ve blogged about our software donation program, a program that provides free software licenses to any eligible nonprofit organization. To keep things simple our eligibility guidelines track to the same criteria that the US government and other governments around the world use in deciding who is a nonprofit.

    This kind of broad program – which provided $844 million in software to 40,000 organizations last year – inevitably means that from time to time we end up providing software to some group that holds policy positions different than our own. That’s because the goal of the program is to support a vibrant and healthy non-profit community, not a particular issue or point of view.

    Until now, we’ve talked about this issue mostly in general terms. But a recent controversy over climate change denial advertising by a nonprofit that received software licenses under our program are prompting us to be a little more specific.

    Microsoft believes climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate, worldwide attention and we are acting accordingly. We are pursuing strategies and taking actions to reduce our own impact as well as the impact of our products.  In addition, Microsoft has adopted a broad policy statement on climate change that expresses support for government action to address climate change.

    The Heartland Institute does not speak for Microsoft on climate change. In fact, the Heartland Institute’s position on climate change is diametrically opposed to Microsoft’s position. And we completely disagree with the group’s inflammatory and distasteful advertising campaign.

    Heartland did participate in our global software donation program in 2010, as did thousands of other nonprofit organizations.  It’s important to point out that hundreds of environmental and conservation groups also took advantage of the same program, and received over $13 million in free software to pursue their missions. 

    Again, our software donation program does not support or endorse any particular nonprofit or any particular policy views -- it supports giving all nonprofits in the world access to free software.

    To learn more about Microsoft’s climate change policy statement and sustainability efforts, please visit our website.

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