Two stories recently got me thinking about corporate giving. First came the news that Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s “Giving Pledge,” promising to give most of his life’s wealth to charity. Already worth a Forbes estimated $6.9 billion, that’s a big pledge. “People wait until late in their career to give back,” Zuckerberg told WSJ. “But why wait when there is so much to be done?”
I found the second story on a local Austin blog, “I Live Here, I Give Here” (a great resource for keeping in touch with local charity efforts). ILHIGH’s mission is to promote charitable giving in the Austin community, and their stat in a recent article troubled me: of the 50 largest US cities, Austin ranks 48th in percent of per capita disposable income we give to charity. Austin’s “ignore the problems and they will go away” approach is to blame, the author writes.
Both stories pushed a similar message: don’t wait to start giving. Looking back on 2010, I’m proud of the Austin businesses that didn’t wait – these companies are building charitable corporate cultures from within, the kind of giving that can amount to a lot more than a number on a check. Here are a few inspiring efforts from our Bat City neighbors.
Real stories push Samsung Austin Semiconductor to $25,000 gift
The Stateman’s “Season for Caring” campaign features 12 families, showcasing their real stories of need and efforts to overcome their situations. It’s the individual stories that make the campaign so compelling, giving faces to the cause. Samsung Austin Semiconductor was moved to donate after an employee brought the campaign to their attention – corporate giving inspired from within the company. The company donated $25,000, and made a very real impact on some of Austin’s neediest families.
Dell’s corporate culture promotes charitable empowerment
I’m repeatedly inspired by our client partners at Dell. The company logged 201,227 hours of team member volunteer services in 2010, with an estimated economic impact of over $4.1 million. A big part of the company’s giving is about empowerment through service – teaching people to fish, as the proverb goes. Dell’s YouthConnect, for example, works with causes worldwide, helping young people get the education and technology they need to reach their dreams. A rep explains the initiative in this video:
Bazaarvoice isn’t waiting
It wouldn’t be enough to applaud others’ efforts without acting ourselves. At Bazaarvoice, we’ve worked to make giving a core part of our business – it’s one of our cultural values.
Our giving starts with passionate employees who bring causes to the attention of the bigger Bazaarvoice team, and we donate to or match employee donations to these causes yearlong through the Bazaarvoice Foundation. This year we volunteered with a number of local charities, including: bowling in the Austin Cup, benefitting the Center for Child Protection; competing in the Great Grown Up Spelling Bee, benefitting the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas; working 400 man hours at the Spring and Fall Service Days, benefitting KIPP Austin Public Schools and Zilker Park; and dozens of other events, in total adding up to 900+ hours of employee time and approximately $75K in company donations.
Some favorites included the Active Life Movement’s visit to our office, during which the entire company turned out to assemble 30 bicycles we’d purchased to donate to Austin kids. We also had huge office participation in Movember, raising $27K and proudly sporting moustaches for a month in promotion of men’s health awareness.
With a new year starting, we hope even more Austin businesses (and companies everywhere) will work to create a culture of corporate charity that spreads from employees up. We know we can do more, and it’ll be our team members who push us to do it.