REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 26, 1999 — Once a week during her lunch hour, Melissa Myers leaves her job as a Human Resources associate administrator at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus and travels to a nearby elementary school to work in the library.
“My manager is totally supportive,” Myers said of her volunteer pursuits, which also include participation in the High Tech Challenge Day of Caring, an annual event sponsored by the United Way that placed more than 900 Microsoft employees in volunteer jobs on Sept. 24. Her involvement in the Day of Caring included donning a silver lam vest and green visor to join nine other Microsoft employees volunteering at a casino party with clients of Elder Health Northwest in Seattle.
“This experience completely changed my view of elder facilities, specifically those offering day care,” Myers said. She half-expected to find the facility’s clients feeling disinterested and forgotten; instead, Myers found them engaged and glad to be there.
“This is an amazing thing we do for our community that greatly increases an employee’s view of the surrounding areas,” Myers said. “Everyone benefits from an event like this.”
Awareness of Microsoft employees’ community involvement increases every fall during the company Giving Campaign, but as this year’s campaign draws to a close the annual fundraiser is only the most recent example of Microsoft employees’ ongoing commitment to helping others.
From organizing relief drives after earthquakes in Columbia, Turkey and Taiwan, to designing a system for registering Kosovar refugees, Microsoft employees are involved throughout the year in communities around the globe, stepping in to make a difference in people’s lives.
In fiscal year 1999, more than two-thirds of Microsoft’s employees participated in giving and volunteer programs. Employee giving, including the Microsoft match, exceeded $25 million in cash donations. Microsoft matches, dollar-for-dollar, all employee contributions of $25 or more — up to $12,000 per person each year.
The 1999 Giving Campaign, themed “Y2give,” is on track to raise $15 million for a variety of non-profit organizations nationwide, including the United Way.
In recognition of its commitment to community support, Microsoft and its employees have won top honors on national and statewide levels. The United Way of America in April named Microsoft the winner of its 12th annual Spirit of America Award, its highest national tribute for corporate community involvement. In announcing the award, UWA President Betty Beene credited Microsoft with fostering generosity in its employees.
“The Spirit of America Award recognizes in an outwardly visible way the inward culture of caring present at Microsoft,” Beene said. “The men and women of this remarkable organization prove every day that a company can do well in business and good in their communities at the same time.”
Fifteen years ago, Microsoft employees donated $34,000 in the company’s first employee Giving Campaign; ever since, Microsoft has incorporated community involvement and giving as a key part of its corporate culture. For employees in the company’s Product Support Services East Region (PSS-ER) site in Charlotte, N.C., that means hands-on support for community projects — and honors from regional supporters of volunteerism.
Hundreds of PSS-ER employees donated 4,000 hours of their time in such efforts as helping community agencies set up computer systems, training a local library staff on new Internet technologies, and spending their lunch hours reading to local schoolchildren. Microsoft backed the effort with $1 million in funds and software donations. In September, PSS-ER received the ’99 Nine Who Care Award from WSOC-TV, the Central Carolinas United Way, and the Metrolina Association of Volunteer Administrators.
Beyond their own communities, Microsoft employees have responded to a number of international crises with donations and expertise. When Hurricane Mitch tore through Central America, causing widespread destruction in late October and early November 1998, employees were invited to contribute to relief agencies with which the company partnered. Nicaragua native Sergio Pineda, a product manager in the Personal Business Systems Training group, helped to initiate the effort.
On Jan. 25, when an earthquake struck Colombia, another native of the country called on Microsoft employees to contribute to relief organizations. This time it was Orlando Ayala, senior vice president, Microsoft’s South Pacific and Americas Region. Again when an earthquake struck the northwest region of Turkey on Aug. 17, 1999, Microsoft employees donated to the relief effort.
After the Sept. 21 earthquake in Taiwan, an employee task force led by Microsoft Taiwan President Cheng-Chu Allen Fan cancelled that subsidiary’s 10th-anniversary celebrations and instead donated the event budget of $79,000 to the government’s emergency-response account. Microsoft also made a grant of $30,000 to World Vision for relief supplies and community reconstruction. Again, employees made personal contributions to relief agencies.
Microsoft employees were behind the effort to register Kosovar refugees after they were uprooted from their war-torn country and separated from their families. European employees’ concern set in motion the design of a computerized registration system, created in part with software from Microsoft, that helped relief agencies register refugees, issue new identification documents, and facilitate the reunion of separated families.
Scores of people from around the company spearheaded the system’s design and implementation. In addition, 20 volunteers selected from 200 applicants, worked in Albania and Macedonia on system integration, facilities, training, information-technology support, communications, and related tasks.
Emily Hine, community affairs program manager at Microsoft, has witnessed firsthand how a passion for community involvement can spread. “It is rewarding to see more Microsoft employees get involved every year, but it is even more heartening to hear how their commitment to contribute has extended to their friends and families,” Hine said. “Volunteerism is definitely contagious.”