January, 2011

  • Employee volunteering program protects children online in Belgium

     

    Laurence Verriest, Community Affairs Lead, Microsoft Belgium.

    Child Focus is a Belgian NGO that has been working tirelessly to protect children online for many years. Microsoft has collaborated with Child Focus for the last four years and has been training children and teachers in schools around Belgium on internet safety. As one of the volunteers at Microsoft I am particularly proud that this long term partnership and the valuable work of Child Focus undertakes.

    Microsoft has a long standing commitment to keeping the internet safe for children. In Belgium, as part of this commitment, we decided to devote our Employee Volunteering Program, which offers three volunteering days per year to employees, to child online safety. We noticed, during discussions with our NGO partner, Child Focus, and other stakeholders (NGO’s, FCCU, government agencies and universities), that teachers still don’t feel confident bringing the subject of Internet Safety in class. So in 2009, we decided to provide Microsoft employees with the opportunity to volunteer to provide Safer Internet Training in primary and secondary schools for children between the ages of 8-13. Microsoft worked with Child Focus to develop a specific training pack explaining why the Internet is fun and useful, but also covering the potential dangers such as privacy, spam, cyber bullying etc.

    Microsoft trains employee volunteers and matches them with schools where they give e-safety lesson in class. The program has proved incredibly popular, and we have seen a strong growth in demand from schools. To meet this demand we’ve extended the program to include our partner, Getronics, in the initiative, which is helping us to reach an even greater number of children.

    In our last fiscal year - July 2009 to June 2010 65 Getronics employees and 101 Microsoft employees – a full third of our employees - trained over 10,000 children in schools all over the country.

    But more important than the numbers, the training has been very effective, in the words of a teacher from Cardinal Mercier in Braine L’alleud: “We would like to thank Microsoft Belux and everyone concerned in this project, for the training you provided to our pupils on the dangers of the Internet. We would like to thank Mister Van Mollekot and Cremers who brought 7 sessions with professionalism and passion for 12 classes. The pupils and the teachers learned a lot! Could you come back in June to train the other classes?”

    In the words of one colleague “I was delighted to have participated in the volunteering day. It was enriching from both a human and professional point of view. It was a real moment of realization in understanding the daily challenges for our users! It was surprising, uplifting and what a pleasure to hear their perspective”

    In December 2010 Microsoft Belux was honored to have the incredible work of Child Focus and the Internet Safety program recognized with the “European Union Employee Volunteering Award for Belgium”. This competition recognizes companies for their employee engagement initiatives and is organized by the European Commission and coordinated by Business & Society for Belgium. Microsoft was selected by an independent jury that included representatives from the University of Antwerp, the Flemish employment agency, Network for Training and Entrepreneurship and HR Tribune magazine. The award ceremony was attended by 100 people from both public and private sector, NGOs and academia.   John Macdonald, head of task force for the European Year at the European Commission delivered the opening address while a panel discussion on the role of employee volunteering included the CEO of Deloitte Belgium, ING Belgium, PWC and Freshfields, and Xavier Lamote from Microsoft.

    Pictured at the presentation of the European Union Employee Volunteering Award for Belgium are Ellen Stassart, Child Focus; Mieke Kennof, Business Manager Microsoft Belux; Laurence Verriest, Community Affairs Manager Microsoft Belux; Xavier Lamote, BMO Director Microsoft Belux and Rudi Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of VBO/FEB the federation of business in Belgium

    Microsoft will now participate in the European finalist contest in March 2011.

    The Employee Volunteering Program is an excellent opportunity for our employees to develop their personal skills and be ambassadors of our Citizenship programs. As one of the volunteers at Microsoft I am particularly proud that this long term partnership and the valuable work of Child Focus has been recognized in this way.

     

    Laurence Verriest manages Microsoft’s community affairs programs in Belgium.

  • Nonprofit donation management for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 now available

    Donation Management for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011has been posted to the Dynamics Marketplace.

    Donation Management is available in English for the U.S. and Canada right now, and we’re gauging interest levels outside North America.

    Though this is branded as a “version 1.0”, in fact the solution builds upon our previous work in the not-for-profit space – formerly known as the “Not for Profit Accelerator” or the “Charity Accelerator”. The older NfP Accelerator is in use by museums, charities, and public broadcasting corporations across North America. Where the former accelerator was restricted to CRM Online, this version works across CRM Online, on-premises, and partner-hosted. It’s now available at no charge for customers of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 or as part of the on-going $9.99/user/month not-for-profit pricing for CRM Online in the United States. Also, you may remember the Dynamics Marketplace from a blog article in 2010.

    Find out more information at:http://crm.dynamics.com/ngo.

  • 2010 was the biggest year of employee giving so far…

    When you visit a Microsoft office and discover that it’s been transformed from a place of work to an amphitheater for a keenly contested rock-paper-scissors contest, or when you overhear people discussing an ongoing bidding war for the world’s best baloney sandwich, then chances are you’re witnessing Microsoft’s employee giving at first hand.

    Each year as part of our Giving campaign every full time Microsoft employee in the United States can take advantage of corporate matching for the donations they make to nonprofit and community organizations, up to $12,000. They also have the opportunity to volunteer their time and have those hours matched with a per hour payment to the chosen organization.

    It would be fair to say that employee giving is an inherent part of life at Microsoft. Since the inception of the company our employees have wanted to give something back. The continued success of our employee giving isn’t solely about people’s generosity - it’s also about their creativity and passion. As the co-chairs of the 2010 Giving campaign we have had the opportunity to see an incredible array of initiatives to raise funds and awareness. This past year we had over 300 fundraising events including a 5K run with 1,700 employee participants, national poker competitions, an album of employee music, photo books, soccer clinics, and our internal auction site which continues to grow in both the breadth of items offered and the money it raises.

    So, how did we do in the United States in 2010? Here are some of the top line figures:

    • Microsoft employee giving raised $96 million in 2010 – the most ever
    • Nearly 35,000 people around Microsoft participated
    • Over 4,000 people volunteered over 350,000 hours of their time – generating $6 million in funds for the recipient organizations
    • Over 16,000 organizations benefitted from funds raised as part of the Giving campaign.

    These funds make a real difference in our communities. For example, Microsoft employees are the single largest, active source of ongoing donors for the Seattle Children’s Hospital, which received over $800,000 in 2010. The majority of the donated funds go toward uncompensated care so that no one who comes to Seattle Children’s is turned away for insurance or financial reasons. The donated funds will assist around 1,000 families with uncompensated care. It’s something we’re very proud of.

    2010 was an outstanding year for our employee Giving campaign and we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that the success of the campaign isn’t solely due to the incredible generosity of our people, but is also the result of the hard work and energy of an army of volunteers across the company who commit their time to the Giving campaign, driving participation, helping organize events and supporting initiatives. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their efforts.

    There is one downside to these results: it creates a formidable target for 2011! However, we’re confident, that as in years past, our employees will rise to the challenge.

    We’re already underway. Thank you for your support in 2010!

    Tony Scott

    S.Somasegar

    Tony Scott was co-chair of the 2010 Microsoft Giving Campaign and is Corporate Vice President and Chief Information Officer

    Tony Scott joined Microsoft Corp. in February 2008 as corporate vice president and chief information officer (CIO). Under Scott's leadership, Microsoft IT is responsible for security, infrastructure, messaging and business applications for all of Microsoft, including support of the product groups, the corporate business groups, and the global sales and marketing organization.

    S. Somasegar was co-chair of the 2010 Microsoft Giving Campaign and is Senior Vice President, Developer Division

    As senior vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft Corp., S. Somasegar is responsible for providing tools, runtimes and technologies for developers, designers, software development teams and the technical computing community. His team owns the Visual Studio and Expression Studio families of products, the .NET Framework, Silverlight, and many core development technologies.

  • New Grass on Old Turf

    Vikas Goswami, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Microsoft India

    Helping people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential” is not just a tag line at Microsoft; it is our way of life, work and fun. For the last five years it has been incorporated into my DNA. I see opportunities nay seek opportunities to help people and NGOs reach their full potential via the various technology and program options we offer. Sometimes the path is longer than we expect, more like a rural hilly village road in India but with tenacity and dedication from all involved great things can be accomplished.

    One such journey is the partnership between Grameen Sanchar Society (GRASSO) and Microsoft which began in early 2006. GRASSO is one of our community partner organizations in India and was awarded an Unlimited Potential (UP)Community Technology Skills Program (CTSP) grant to set up 180 community technology centres to provide training in provinces across India. The partnership was created as various state governments in India were rolling out Mission 2007 with the intent of establishing more than 100,000 common service centers across India. The GRASSO program was supported by the West Bengal State government initiative and Microsoft. Our mid-term appraisal and field visit in 2007 showed that while the pace was slow, the project was well on track to meet its targets.

    However, as can sometimes happen the project began to stall after the initial stage of implementation. During one field visit, we found many of the centres had shut down and at other locations, there was limited staff, so even the operational centres could only offer limited training, if any. It became very clear that GRASSO was struggling. They were waiting on additional funding from other sources. Morale was low and although we were committed, the reality was the project was unable to move forward and we felt there was no alternative but to regretfully end our active engagement with GRASSO in early 2009. 

    But that is not where the story ends. One of the values we look for in our community partners is their commitment, and clearly the GRASSO team was not short of that. In mid-2009 with a new senior management in place, GRASSO approached Microsoft to re-build the relationship. Although we were cautious based on program’s lack of progress, we saw that the new team had genuine enthusiasm and were committed to getting the program going.

    We took the decision to work closely together providing programmatic guidance, IT certifications and curriculum support for community credibility. It was a watershed moment when new centers became operational and new beneficiaries walked in to get trained. We spent a lot of time discussing how to run centers more effectively and efficiently, how to create collaborations with other stakeholders and create partnership frameworks for successful centers which were sustainable over time. During this process our partnership evolved - from a funder to a true partner. In early 2010 to further strengthen the GRASSO team we invited them for an NGO connection day. These NGO Connection Days are Microsoft hosted events where we bring NGOs together to share best practices and discover new technologies. The event provided them with a great opportunity of cross learning and best practice sharing from our other Microsoft Unlimited Potential CTSP grantees and networking with other partners of Microsoft in this space.

    The partnership, investment and perseverance by Microsoft and GRASSO has led to a transformation of the program. Today there are 122 operational centers that have trained more than 51,000 people, and the program is improving day by day. According to Mr. Sanjib Sanjib Das Chaudhuri of GRASSO “Microsoft's continuous cooperation and support helped us in making this turn around happen."

    So was the journey worth the effort?

    Yes very much so. I still remember visiting village after village with the GRASSO team meeting people who asked if we could re-open the centers as their youth needed them so much. I would quietly say I would try. Today I feel happy to have tried and succeeded to get the centers up and running again by working closely with our partners. This was no small feat accomplished by the GRASSO team.

    There are no simple answers to addressing community development. It requires passion, expertise, partnership, investment and perseverance. GRASSO is a great example of what can be achieved.

    Vikas Goswami, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Microsoft India

     

                  

    Vikas has been working in the development sector for 20 years of which last 10 have been in the field of corporate social responsibility. The last five have been with Microsoft in India as Director CSR. She has been a CSR advisor to various corporate and civil society organizations in India. She has been involved with designing, implementing and evaluating strategies and programs covered under the remit of CSR. Prior to Microsoft she was working with The Business and Community Foundation, Global Alliance for Workers and Communities and DFID (British Government Development Agency). She likes to train and lecture on CSR issues to both development sector and corporate sector organizations. Vikas has PhD in Anthropology from Delhi University and an M.Sc in Development Management from University of Wales.

  • A Mouse, 500 Employees, and the Commitment to Build a Strong Community

    Jon Fine, CEO, United Way of King County

    In 1983, Microsoft introduced the first version of Microsoft Word, a product that would go on to revolutionize word processing and software interface. The same year, came the Microsoft Mouse, a device we all take for granted now, that changed the way we interacted with our PC’s forever. Also in 1983, with fewer than 500 employees, Microsoft ran its first giving campaign for United Way of King County.

    With the foresight, the generosity and the smarts that would make Microsoft the company it is today, the employees of Microsoft injected giving back to the community into the DNA of the company.

    It’s a tradition that carries on today, made stronger than ever by you, the employees of Microsoft. This year you helped 3,568 people in King County gain or maintain a permanent home who otherwise would be homeless without your support. In a time when we have all been touched in someway by the economic downturn, Microsoft helped deliver 24,000 meals to homebound people in our local community here in King County.

    The gifts you’ve made to United Way of King County have helped 11,461 families find quality childcare, 5018 kids enter kindergarten prepared to learn and 6,577 new moms and dads learn parenting skills. But you did more than that…

    Keeping with the Microsoft way, you’ve shown that there’s more than one way to accomplish a goal. Not only have your financial gifts positioned United Way of King County as the number one fundraising United Way in the country, but you have also donated your time, and your expertise back to the community. The $96 million you raised during your 2010 Giving Campaign will make a tremendous impact on the nonprofits and communities around that world that will benefit.

    Before and after the Microsoft Day of Caring Project at Child Haven

    When United Way of King County kicked off the 2010-2011 campaign at the Day of Caring in September, more than 5,000 of you streamed out into the community. You read to kids, painted community living homes, cleaned up child care centers and together we provided the equivalent of $1.3 million dollars of labor to area nonprofits.

    Perhaps the most valuable thing you at Microsoft bring to the community is your passion for innovation, and for approaching the toughest challenges in a smart and efficient way. It’s a mentality that has come to characterize our region and it ties back directly to you and your spirit of generosity. So when something we’re doing gets a positive endorsement from you, the employees of Microsoft, it makes an impact that resonates throughout the community.

    Let me give you an example. In many struggling families, parents lack the basic skills to teach their children. As a result, about 75 percent of the state’s lowest income children are not ready to enter kindergarten. This year we announced the expansion of the Parent Child Home Program, a program that sends a home visitor into a family’s home twice a week for two years to help with schoolwork. These kids then gain the skills that prepare them to succeed in school and the parents learn how to be their child’s first and best teacher. Research shows that kids who participate in the Parent Child Home Program achieve high school graduation rates at the same level as their middle and upper income counterparts. (Check out a video about the program here.)

    Microsoft understands that a well educated work force is critical to successful business and a healthy community. On the very day we launched the Parent Child Home Program, Microsoft announced a gift of $1 million to support the effort. This endorsement, from a company and its employees who get it, who recognize a smart investment, has leveraged gifts from other companies and employees including several Microsoft alumni. So far we have raised $7.9 million dollars and thanks to you we are bringing the Parent Child Home Program to every child in King County who wants it and can benefit from it.

    We’ve been incredibly lucky to have Microsoft General Counsel and SVP Brad Smith along with his wife Kathy Surace-Smith co-chair this year’s United Way of King County Campaign. They have tirelessly shared United Way’s message throughout King County in what is shaping up to be a potentially record breaking fundraising year. I would like to share one of their key strategies for the year.

    Brad and Kathy are encouraging younger, small, and middle sized companies, many in the tech industry, to start giving campaigns. The message is simple. ‘Microsoft didn’t wait until we had an IPO, or until we became the tremendously successful company we’ve become to give back to the community. We knew that our success depended on the health of the community and the people that live in it.’

    Here we are 28 years after the release of that Microsoft Mouse and that message still resonates. The Kinect has changed the way people are gaming, Windows 7 phones are popping up everywhere, and the Microsoft Giving campaign is more successful and important than ever. Thank you all for your longstanding commitment to solving our community’s toughest challenges. It is an honor to partner with each and every one of you who work at Microsoft.

    Jon Fine is the CEO at United Way of King County

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