REDMOND, Wa., October 28, 1998 — It will be all treats tonight when Microsoft employees take part in a Halloween-theme party on campus celebrating the final days of the company’s 15th annual employee Giving Campaign. Adding to the festive atmosphere is news that this year’s campaign will most likely meet the company goal of raising more than $10 million for charity when it officially ends October 30. Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates will thank employees for their generosity in making the 1998 campaign so successful. It is expected that this year’s total probably will surpass last year’s by more than $2 million.
The Microsoft Giving Campaign, part of the company’s matching gift program, encourages employees to donate portions of their paychecks to nonprofit organizations. As in past years, the 1998 Giving Campaign supports a broad spectrum of organizations and institutions that helps thousands of people in communities around the nation, many of them United Way agencies.
Microsoft has a special relationship with the United Way of King County, Washington, which is the largest United Way on the West Coast and the second largest in the United States in terms of donations. Microsoft is the second largest corporate donor locally next to Boeing.
Joanne R. Harrel, president and CEO of United Way of King County, terms Microsoft “wonderful corporate citizens” who value the importance of philanthropy. “This sense of commitment to charity comes from Bill Gates. Most people do not hear about all the effort he puts into raising awareness about the United Way both locally and nationally,” Harrel said. “His leadership has made the people who work at Microsoft really understand the importance of giving. That influence and presence is felt throughout the entire community.”
The goal for the 1998 campaign, which ends officially on October 30, is $10.4 million – $5.2 million in employee donations and an equal company match (Microsoft matches up to $12,000 in charitable donations annually for all of its employees). This goal is an increase of 24 percent from last year’s Giving Campaign total of more than $8.4 million.
The 1998 Annual Giving Campaign has been a spirited affair since its kick-off at an employee meeting on September 18. Microsoft employees have a history of coming up with creative ways to raise Giving Campaign dollars. This year’s fun fundraisers included the Blonde Ambition showdown, created by the Interactive Media Group and featuring teammates dyeing their hair according to various levels of giving; and the Hardware Group’s Darts for Dollars game, which had donors aiming for a bulls-eye.
Mark Young, who works with the Interactive Media Group, spearheaded the Blonde Ambition fundraiser for his team. “I got the idea for “going” blonde based on asking some people what they wanted, and they wanted their managers to do something “embarrassing” if we hit our goals,” Young said. “We’re pretty close to our goal of 85% where we begin going blonde, so we’re all getting a bit nervous. But it’s a small price to pay for a great cause.”
One feature this year that drew considerable attention was the first-ever Giving Campaign online auction. The online auction idea came from Arnold Blinn, a software design engineer/architect in the Commerce Group, who approached Community Affairs about setting up an online program. Blinn and teammates donated their time and expertise to this successful project. The site was a popular part of the campaign, offering employees a chance to bid on a variety of prizes such as classic Microsoft product t-shirts, sports tickets and a guitar signed by rock musician Stevie Nicks.
In addition to financial donations made during the Giving Campaign, employees also donated their time on September 25 when nearly 800 Microsoft workers participated in Day of Caring community projects that ranged from painting a group home to redirecting a horse trail on Cougar Mountain.
“For 15 years I have had the pleasure of celebrating the success of the annual Giving Campaign,” said Gates. “When we started the campaign back in 1983, employees donated a little over $17,000. As the campaign numbers grew each year, our employees’ commitment to building strong communities has remained steady and strong. I am proud of their achievements.”