It’s a long standing tradition at Microsoft, that each October our employees come together and combine their energy, generosity and creativity to raise money for nonprofits and causes. The Giving campaign is a month long opportunity for our people to get involved and make a difference in their local community. We all know that 2009 was a tough economic year. When we started planning last year’s Giving campaign we expected that the fundraising would be impacted, but we were wrong. In a difficult economic climate our employees dug deep and exceeded our own internal goals, raising over $80 million for nonprofits around the United States. I was personally amazed to see this result.

A year later, we’re ready to start again with the 2010 employee Giving Campaign. Once again our people across the United States are working hard to come up with creative ways to encourage one another to donate money and volunteer time to charities. There are over 300 events planned from a 5K run (or walk, if you prefer); to an internal auction site where employees can bid for over 300 different items (last year’s favourite was a giant baloney sandwich, this year one of our executives is offering to have his head shaved over LiveMeeting); football; poker; ping pong; and foosball tournaments and much much more. The proceeds of these employee events will be matched by Microsoft dollar for dollar, and distributed to nonprofits.

The campaign was kicked off last Sunday with a soccer clinic that had three Sounders coaching and sharing tips with over 180 excited Microsoft kids (and their equally excited parents). The proceeds of the event will go to non-profit Soccer Saves.

Of course it’s not just about fundraising, as Kevin mentioned in his post about the Day of Giving, it’s also about people giving their time to the causes and groups closest to their hearts.

I’ve worked in this company for more than six years, and there are countless reasons I feel proud to be a part of it. None, however, makes me prouder than the giving spirit of the thousands of people I call colleagues. "It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no person can sincerely try to help another without helping themselves", the poet Emerson once said. I think this season of giving helps all of us - giver and receiver.

We’ll share our progress with you throughout the month.