February, 2011

  • Time, Talent and Treasure – an essence of successful corporate philanthropy

    It appears that we now live in a world where every day is named after some issue or the other - today is no different, it is International Corporate Philanthropy Day, so I thought it was a good reason to provide some reflection on the issue. 

    Over the past year there has been a revival of the discussion whether companies especially public companies invest shareholder resources towards a public good or should they leave philanthropy as personal expression of the shareholder.  This will continue to be an ongoing debate and my intention here is not to reignite an issue but to simply provide my perspective as someone who leads a corporate philanthropic effort and explain why we believe this is important. Corporate philanthropy is an opportunity to bring together our resources - time (people), talent (know how), and treasure (cash and products) and - to address some of the problems facing society today. Let's look at how this approach works at Microsoft.

    Time - We have thousands of employees who want to give back either to their local communities or to issues they care deeply about.  Our employees have been volunteering since the inception of the company on their own time but in order to more effectively support and track our employees volunteering efforts in the United States we launched our "dollars for doers" program in 2005. Every year we have seen an increased number of our employees volunteering with a total of 1.3 Million hours volunteered to date.  Microsoft's "dollars for doers" program matches our employee's time with a $17 per hour's cash donation to that nonprofit creating an incentive mechanism for both the employee and the organization where they volunteer.   In 2010 alone we matched over $6 million to non-profits as unrestricted cash donations.   

    Talent - Another essential element of corporate philanthropy is understanding how we can match the know-how that resides within the company and our employees with nonprofits around the world.  For example, two Microsoft software developers recently returned from Uganda where they developed a technology platform to help Grameen Foundation scale its initiative to use mobile applications to reach 200,000 smallholder farmers with valuable agriculture information and create technology-related businesses for more than 4,000 agriculture agents.  There are hundreds of such examples where we have been able to use our internal talent to develop specific and effective tools for nonprofits to use. James Duffus who works with one of our product groups has been installing a new product which he manages - Windows Multipoint Server - in the Boys and Girls Club of America to update the Club Tech centers that Microsoft has established over the last decade with new technology.  He is actively learning from how the kids in these clubs are using this technology so that he can continue to evolve a product that will make a substantial impact in the education space.

    Treasure -- Corporate financial donations are critical for our nonprofit partnerships.  At Microsoft as part of our Unlimited Potential program we are focused on workforce development and since 2003 we have invested in over 1,500 nonprofit partners to help them establish over 70,000 Community Technology Centers this has led to young people, women, the disabled and the elderly gain access to technology skills to date we have reached over 170 million people in over 110 countries through this effort. This means that in Europe immigrant women are gaining technology skills so that they can participate in the workforce, in the US since 2009 our Elevate America program has reached over 900,000 people through online training vouchers and certification vouchers.  Kelly Edwards lost her job in New York in 2009, as a 50 year old without a college education finding a job was very difficult.  Dwayne Moorehead felt similar distress when he left the U.S. military service and faced the challenge of transitioning to a civilian job.   Like millions of other Americans who have found themselves unemployed in recent years, Edwards and Moorehead discovered that they did not have the kinds of technology skills that many employers demand.  Today both are employed again after receiving technology skills training-along with thousands of other Americans -through Elevate America.  In Africa and Asia, women and youth are receiving training to either start their own small businesses selling goods over the Internet or providing training to others.  I could go on with these examples however what is important here to note that these programs are locally relevant in the communities in which they operate and our role as a corporate funder is to identify the right partner and let them execute.

    As we mark International Corporate Philanthropy Day it is important that we recognize that as companies we are part of the fabric of society.  We can play a positive role in contributing to the overall development of our communities if we can harness the power of time, talent and treasure in a way that it can make a leveraged impact.

    *This post has been cross posted to the BCLC Blog.

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  • Getting Europe online

    Guest post by Sylvie Laffarge, Director Community Affairs, Europe


    Get Online Week starts today across Europe, running from the 28th February – 5th March 2011. As the name suggests, the awareness week aims to get people using the Internet and gaining the skills needed to participate in the new information-based economy. Even in this age of smartphones, wi-fi hotspots and social media, 200 million people in Europe are still without the Internet.

    Delivered as part of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills Program (UP-CTSP), the company has partnered with Telecentre-Europe (TE), an organization dedicated to increasing the impact of telecentres throughout Europe. This is part of an ongoing initiative to provide technology-related skills to local communities. Telecentres are publicly accessible places that provide access to computers, the Internet and other digital technologies that enable individuals to gather information, create, learn, and communicate with others.

    It is these skills that ‘offliners’ need to be able to compete in the job market. Almost every position today will require basic Internet skills from health care and construction to agriculture and manufacturing. Across Europe mums returning to work after a period of time away, the unemployed and the disabled are often those left behind when it comes to technology fluency as they don’t have access to the right tools and training.

    Get Online Week sees a variety of events taking place in 27 contributing countries across Europe, including open access sessions, workshops and local demonstrations. The week began with a launch event on 24th February in Belgium, supported by the European Commission and featuring guest speakers Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda and Philippe Courard, Belgium Secretary of State for Social Integration and the Fight Against Poverty. Kroes pushed the button on the European online counter and witnessed the first person get online at Interface3, a Non Governmental Organization in Brussels that works with disadvantaged women to provide IT skills and is participating in Get On-Line Week

    Neely_KroesNeelie Kroes, Vice President of the EC in charge of the Digital Agenda visits the Belgian Telecentre operated by Interface3 to launch Get Online Week, a pan-European campaign under her patronage. The target is to get 100,000 digitally excluded people to go online for the first time.

    Microsoft believes access to ICT skills opens the way to skilled jobs, better lives and stronger communities and is continually working to provide technology to individuals who wouldn’t ordinarily have access. In its 2010 fiscal year, Microsoft donated to 7,000 Non Government Organizations across 32 countries in Europe with over $80m worth of software and funding through Unlimited Potential programs. With a specific focus on providing technology-related skills through community telecentres, Microsoft provides TE with the technology to reach offliners and engage them through a professional and business-like service so they can ultimately learn, grow and develop skills.

    Get Online Week is just the start of this process - making people aware of the facilities available to them in their own communities. With continued support and training, offliners can become onliners and take the first steps towards career success in virtually every sector of the economy.

    This post can also be found on Microsoft.eu

    Sylvie Laffarge, Director Community Affairs Europe at Microsoft.

    Sylvie J. Laffarge is Director of Community Affairs and oversees Microsoft’s community and philanthropic investments and outreach in Europe. This includes leading Microsoft’s flagship community investment programs including the Unlimited Potential, Community Technology Skills Program, software donations and employee volunteering.


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  • Giving back to those who changed our lives: UK’s Evelina Children’s Hospital and Xbox 360

    Guest post by Nick Rooke, Microsoft UK

    2 years ago my youngest daughter - Isobel - was born with a double heart condition - pulmonary atresia with VSD. Since it wasn't diagnosed before birth a frantic 48 hours ensued at 3 different hospitals until she eventually got diagnosed correctly, got the correct treatment and was moved to the Evelina Children's Hospital in London. Since then she's had 2 operations and is now doing really well, turning 2 years old just a few months ago....

    So once she'd had her second operation and things looked better long term I wondered how I might be able to give something back to those people who had helped her. I'm not the kind of guy who likes to run 50 marathons (as my team will no doubt attest J) but I did wonder whether I could maybe use some of the other opportunities I had access to in order to help. Rehabilitation obviously plays a key part in the recovery of heart patients, and rehabilitation through play is a vital element of that, particularly for kids. The Evelina itself has dedicated play specialists who help the kids every day in just such a capacity.

    I noticed that the hospital had gaming equipment but it was pretty run down and wasn't getting much use as a result, so I approached Stephen McGill of our UK Xbox team to see if there was something he could do to help. Stephen was fantastically enthusiastic in wanting to help and said "yes" straight away, bringing in his team to pick up the project. I couldn't have asked for more.

    As a result the UK Xbox team spent a year working on a plan to bring Xbox gaming to the children staying at and visiting the Evelina Children's Hospital for treatment.  The team helped to design and produce 7 bespoke Xbox pods (pictured left) purpose built for use with children.  The pods are fantastic - their look, feel, size and shape is very child friendly. Additionally they're also optimized for use with Kinect which is even better and serves as a great showcase for our brand and content. 

    In November the team organized the official launch at the hospital in celebration of this charitable donation and it was a chance for all those who had been involved on the Xbox side to meet and greet the benefactors of their initiative. Despite the terrible snow storms that hit London that week, we had a really enthusiastic bunch of kids who made it in for their appointments and had to be dragged away from the pods by their parents to return home afterwards.

    None of this would have been possible without the passion and help of Stephen and his entire team (Alex Weller, Lydia Cutland, Laura Disney and NJ Live/Neon) who helped out with everything from conception through to deployment. The pods will be maintained and refreshed regularly and stay there for all kids attending and staying at the hospital (not to mention their parents) to enjoy and maybe take their mind off some of the worries they have elsewhere.

    Pictured below is my daughter Isobel


  • Voting opens for the Boston College Citizenship Film Festival

    Voting has opened for this year's Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship's annual Film Festival. The Film Festival was created  to demonstrate the power of video to promote corporate social responsibility (CSR).  

    We're among more than 30 companies that have a video showcased in this year's event, which is now in its third year.   Our entry is for the Boys & Girls Club of America Club Tech program, which makes technology access and training available to over a million kids per year.  The Club Tech program is jointly supported by Microsoft and Comcast.  


    VOTE NOW for the Microsoft & Comcast Partnership entry

    Club Tech provides children of all ages, and from all backgrounds, the resources and skills they need to showcase their creativity, perform better in school, and eventually take their technology know-how into the workplace. Many Microsoft employees are proud to be a part of the Club Tech program, volunteering their time, expertise, and energy to help Club Tech. Voting closes on March 10th and the winning video will be announced on April 11 during the 2011 International Corporate Citizenship Conference. Microsoft has partnered with BGCA since 1998, and has pledged $150 million in support to Boys & Girls Clubs and the Club Tech program.

  • NPower transforms Charlotte’s nonprofit community through technology

    Guest Post by Lindsay Jones, NPower Charlotte Region


    Pictured Above: The ability to provide remote support was critical for World of God, a nonprofit client that provides sustainable aid to children in Haiti and Liberia.

    At NPower Charlotte Region, we believe technology can change the world of nonprofits.  However, without the support of our corporate partners, this change would not be possible.  Last month, our long-time partner, Microsoft, helped further this change by donating Microsoft software and exam vouchers to support NPower’s mission.
    Microsoft’s donation helps transform Charlotte’s nonprofit community through technology advancement and innovation.  The donated software gives NPower the ability to work virtually, supports our new tech center and increases the overall professional delivery of our technology solutions.
    NPower_pic2Specifically, the Windows Server Family gives our NPower staff mobility, allowing consultants to work with clients easily in the field.  Virtualization is essential to providing IT support to our nearly 100 nonprofit clients in a 14 county area and this software makes this possible.  York County Adult Daycare (pictured left), an organization that provides activities and support for adults with specialized needs, consists of three different sites supported by NPower in Rock Hill, York and Fort Mill South Carolina.  With NPower’s mobile workforce, enabled through Microsoft technology, we can support York County Adult Daycare’s technology so they can fulfill their mission of providing a loving, caring environment for those adults who need it.   Virtualization allows us to go directly to the people we serve making a broad footprint in technology innovation.

    NPower recently launched a Community Tech Support Center, which provides help desk support to more than 25 nonprofits in the Charlotte area.  Windows 7 will enable NPower’s technologists to quickly address nonprofits’ IT problems and find the right solution for all of our clients.  This software also gives us the ability to expand the Center to offer support to more than 100 clients on a variety of projects including Managed Services and website support.  This ability to provide remote support was critical for World of God, a nonprofit client that provides sustainable aid to children in Haiti and Liberia.  After the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, World of God needed to modify their website immediately to solicit support and aid for victims.  Our client, who was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, was able to work with NPower remotely to make necessary web site changes to respond to the crisis.

    At NPower, we pride ourselves in providing IT support for nonprofits that rivals what you might find in the corporate world. The Microsoft Office 2010 Suite used by our consultants, gives us a professional, high quality delivery of products and services for our nonprofit clients.  Having been accustomed to a high level of professionalism found with their corporate volunteers, United Way of Central Carolinas selected NPower to function as the CIO for their organization based in part on the quality of our solution delivery.  Microsoft’s donation helps NPower support not only United Way but the 93 agencies they serve, each addressing the basic building blocks of a better life through education, financial stability, and health.
    With the down economy, training opportunities throughout the corporate and nonprofit sectors are limited.  The donated exam vouchers will help our IT engineers maintain their high level of technology expertise and quickly get up to speed on the latest Microsoft products and services to better meet our client needs.  With these tools, we are equipped to help Charlotte’s nonprofit community do more with less.   Thank you, Microsoft, for the generous donation and for your continued commitment to supporting nonprofit technology advancement.

    About NPower Charlotte Region

    NPowerpic_3NPower Charlotte Region is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit technology consultancy that works exclusively with 501(c)(3) organizations. NPower Charlotte Region is part of the national NPower network and serves the 14 county region surrounding Charlotte, NC. NPower works with nonprofit organizations to improve current technology and implement needed technology programs to achieve improvements that enable them to better serve their clients. Visit NPower Charlotte Region at www.npowercharlotteregion.org. (Pictured left: NPower Charlotte Region Staff)



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