When we received our 2008 copy of the Austin Business Journal’s Book of Lists, I was thrilled to see us listed as #15 on the list of Austin Corporate Philanthropists, based on 2007 participation.
What strikes me most about this list is that the companies ahead of us have hundreds or thousands of employees – we only had 88 at that time we filled out the survey. And while our overall contribution doesn’t come near what the larger companies gave, it still shows that even small companies can make an impact.
While we certainly don’t donate time and money in order to make it on a list (this is about nourishing our company’s soul, not getting “recognized”), this is an important reflection of our culture. Each month, the Bazaarvoice Foundation Team meets to determine which activities to pursue, based on input from the whole company. In 2007, when were named to this list, we had less than 1/4th of the employees we have now, and we were really just getting started with our organized volunteerism and giving (I had been giving since the inception of our company, but not in an organized manner).
2008 marked the first full year in which the Bazaarvoice Foundation fully organized to deploy interested Bazaarvoicers to donate and volunteer, and the results were amazing. My previous Bazaarvoice Foundation 2008 in Numbers post covered all we accomplished, and then the Bazaarvoice sales team and others funded the Grace Family Vineyard Foundation at the end of the year.
We are still going strong: 2009 kicks off with a blood drive for The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas on January 20th.
Why is this important to our culture? We freely allow employees to volunteer on company time, and these activities allow us to bond and have fun outside our four walls. As with almost everything we do, we listen and respond to the voices and opinions of our employees – anyone can suggest a cause or activity. Our recent discussion of Seth Godin’s Tribes led several employees to elevate their own causes, to great results. A new employee, Ashley Falvey, is organizing a Bazaarvoice Cycling Team to support charity rides, and Tony Capasso is bringing CEOs from local charity groups to the office so we can all learn more about why they are so passionate about their charity’s cause. The first of these is Doug Ulman, the CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and we are very proud that he is kicking it off.
I challenge all Austin – and technology – firms, large and small, to ask your employees how they would like to give back this year, then give them the flexibility and tools to do it. There is no better way to nourish your company’s soul. I hear about how well many small companies are doing in Austin, and that’s music to my ears. Now it is time for you to give back to your local community – they need you in these tough economic times.