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10 cool ways tech companies give it up for charity

Ann Bednarz | Dec. 8, 2015
The philanthropic landscape is vast, and finding the right charitable fit for a company takes time.

"The most rewarding part of the DataDive was applying our skills as data professionals to help address social issues in our very own backyard,” says Jesika Haria, software engineer at Trifacta.

stratasys
A girl named Annika receives a Stratasys 3D-printed prosthetic on a visit to Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Another example is 3D printing specialist Stratasys, which works with nonprofits such as Magic Arms and Limbitless Solutions to assist in building 3D-printed orthotics. Similarly, Seagate, though its Preserve & Protect program, donates rugged data storage and cloud storage solutions to wildlife conservation groups to help their field teams capture, transport and back-up photos, videos and other data.

Share the knowledge

It’s a natural for tech companies to get involved in corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives aimed at STEM education, but not every vendor knows how to get started. kCura aims to give schools access to technology through its Wired to Learn Grant. The e-discovery company selects an under-resourced local school to be the recipient of $250,000 worth of technology and professional development over a three-year period. On top of that, kCura created a playbook for the program so other companies can replicate its success with other schools.

Let employees take the lead

The consensus among people we talked to is that CSR projects work best when they’re initiated by employees rather than dictated to them.

“Start with your employees,” recommends Kathy Mulvany, vice president of corporate affairs at Cisco. “Enable them to be engaged and to feel a part of their community. Give them outlets to do that, whether that be volunteering for nonprofits in their community or providing donations to nonprofits in their community.”

“We make it very personal as the majority of the programs are driven directly by our associates and then backed by the organization,” says Thomas Gravina, CEO of cloud services company Evolve IP. “For example, if an associate donates to a charity, the company matches it financially. If they are volunteering, we rally around them with volunteers to make a bigger impact. This has had a huge effect on the groups we support as well as our company culture – it’s been very rewarding in just about every way imaginable."

At SAP, thousands of employees volunteer at hundreds of nonprofit and charitable organizations across the country during the company’s signature initiative, Month of Service. Key to the program’s success are SAP’s 300 self-selected volunteer ambassadors. These employees donate their time and energy to leading and organizing traditional and skills-based volunteer projects, as well as mentoring students, blogging about experiences, and recruiting other volunteers.

level 3 cares crew collecting sporting equipment for a precious child
Level 3 employees collect sporting equipment for A Precious Child.

 

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