Microsoft Employees Raise the Bar with Fast Start to This Month’s Giving Campaign

Employee charitable giving at Microsoft takes place all year round. But October is a special time for us here at the company, when our offices across the United States are transformed by the hundreds of giving events that make up our annual Giving Campaign.

In 2010, Microsoft employees across the U.S. volunteered their time, expertise and resources to community organizations, raising more than $96 million (with corporate matching) that benefitted over 16,000 community organizations. At the mid-point of this year’s giving campaign, I’m proud to say that we are on pace to beat last year’s impressive donation amount.

Our month-long giving campaign is just one of many ways that Microsoft gives back to the community, and it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. This month, we’re seeing offices filled with pink Flamingos, we have thousands of people participating in a 5k run, we have employees around the world following global time zones in a 24-hour relay, and we even have a fund-raising concert on our Redmond campus by the Presidents of the United States of America.

Employees are free to give to any cause, but across the company we see an increasing focus on youth and education. So far this year, almost a quarter of our employees’ contributions have been dedicated to education and learning programs, including local school district foundations, the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County and the University of Washington.

A significant portion of employees’ charitable giving is also going to support basic human services such as housing, food banks and veterans assistance programs through organizations like Hopelink, Northwest Harvest and the United Way. And our employees are committed to enriching local quality of life. For example, here in the Puget Sound region, our employees are supporting a large number of arts and cultural organizations, such as the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle, the Seattle Children’s Theatre, the Seattle Opera and the Woodland Park Zoo.

The secret to the success of our giving campaign is the passion and creativity of our people. Take Dan Barritt, as an example. Dan, one of our senior researchers here at Microsoft, founded InvestEd, an organization that supports 16,000 Washington secondary school students in need by providing warm coats, glasses, test fees and school and athletic supplies. We have thousands of people like Dan around the company who are deeply committed to strengthening opportunities for youth, families and underserved populations.

Our giving campaign is the result of our employees coming together across the U.S. to give their time, energy, passion, creativity and money to help create more opportunities for more people in our communities.

As a company, Microsoft is equally passionate about serving our local communities and helping to address societal challenges. Our main corporate area of focus is using our technology and our business to create opportunities for young people, whether that’s in education, in skills training or in helping them find jobs and build careers.

For example, in our home state of Washington, we recently committed $6 million to help eight school districts improve their success rates in middle school math, committed another $6 million to help launch the non-profit Washington STEM center to spur innovation in the STEM disciplines in Washington schools, and pledged $25 million over the next five years to the new public-private Washington Opportunity Scholarship to create more capacity for students to go to college.

As we’ve learned over the years, one should never declare victory too early, and this month’s giving campaign is not yet over. Typically the last week of the campaign is the most important. But we’re off to a great start, and we’re very excited about the pace of this year’s participation and contributions. With broadening support from across the Microsoft community, we’re hoping for a record-breaking year of support for the community. If we can achieve this goal, we’ll create an even stronger platform for the future.

About the Author

General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Microsoft

Brad Smith is Microsoft's General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs. He leads the company's Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), which has approximately 1,100 employees located in 55 countries. Mr. Smith is responsible for the company's legal work, its intellectual property portfolio and patent licensing business as well as its government affairs and philanthropic work. He also serves as Microsoft's corporate secretary and its chief compliance officer. Mr. Smith currently co-chairs the board of directors of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and is the chair-elect of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. In Washington state, Mr. Smith has served as chair of the Washington Roundtable, a leading Washington state-based business organization, and he has advanced several statewide education initiatives.