Microsoft employees rally each other to contribute to nonprofits every October, the official kickoff of the company’s annual Giving Campaign. Pinball wizards, Quidditch matches (from Harry Potter) and kittens, of course, are all part of the employee-led Giving Campaign that raises well over $100 million a year for nonprofits, and has raised more than a billion dollars since the program started in 1983.
Microsoft supports employees by matching their donations and giving nonprofits $25 for each hour an employee volunteers for that cause, up to $15,000 per employee per year. While the Giving Program runs throughout the year, October is when Microsoft’s U.S. employees come together and celebrate giving, with more than 400 company-wide and divisional activities.
Here’s an inside look, at some of the 10 ways Microsoft employees channel their creativity and passion to support nonprofits:
Cut off my man bun for hurricane relief: Let’s face it, the “man bun” is hard to pull off. One employee who does took advantage of the collective disdain for man buns to raise money for a good cause. He auctioned the chance to cut off his man bun, raising money for Hurricane Matthew relief, through the UNICEF relief fund. The best haircut money can buy?
Quidditch tournament: Speaking of wizardry, real-life games of Quidditch, Harry Potter style, broke out on campus. Teams mounted brooms and, in one of the matches, raised over $4,000. There was even a spell book to super-charge the competition and raise even more money for TAF, which equips students of color for success in college and life through the power of a STEM education, among other charities. More than $12,500 was raised before Microsoft matching. Expelliarmus!
Microsoft rocks out for children’s health: “Microsoft Rocks” brought together a number of the company’s garage band rock stars in Virginia to rock out and raise money for Children’s National, part of the Children’s National Health System. This annual event raised more than $10,000 this year. (Credit: Patriot Images)
Paper airplane flights to end poverty: Techies may love going paperless, but in October, Microsoft employees found a way to use paper, folded strategically and aerodynamically, to raise money to benefit Oxfam. #FlyandGive was a long-distance paper airplane competition, with entry fees supporting Oxfam’s work to fight poverty, hunger and social injustice.
The great inflatable race: On your mark, get set, donate! Cheering spectators turned out to see members of the Microsoft Operations leadership team dressed up in inflatable costumes as they weaved through cones, jumped over bars and dove toward the finish line. The event raised more than $10,000 for nine charities, including Northwest Harvest and the Lymphoma Society.
Rock-paper-scissors tournament: Set aside the age-old question about whether paper really beats rock. What’s important is that employees set out to raise $10,000 playing a game that’s over 300 years old. Over 20 people competed in person and online to raise money for Strong Against Cancer. Final match result: In an upset, rock beat scissors.
Pinball wizardry for Fred Hutch: Pinball wizards took over a portion of “Studio C” on the company’s Redmond campus, competing in an employee-driven pinball tournament for charity. After all the skill shots, bonus rounds and bruised egos, nearly $500 was raised for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center of Seattle.
“1990 called”: Microsoft employees turned back the clock earlier this month to spend one fashion-challenged night back in the ‘90s. Proceeds from an evening of parachute pants, roller skating, 90’s music, platform shoes and tinted sunglasses all went to the Ronald McDonald House.
Pet a kitten for charity: Want to make sure you get a big turnout for your event? Bring kittens! Employees spent an afternoon in October petting kittens to raise money for Seattle Humane, an organization that promotes the human-animal bond by saving and serving pets in need.
Transform into a video game character: One lucky winner will be transported into a special edition of an upcoming video game release. Employees bid on the chance become a character in the game State of Decay 2 and will get to tour the development studio behind it. Proceeds benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital.