Tech Companies Ramp Up Charitable Giving Strategies

In part because of the impact Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has had on global public health, technology companies are increasingly pursuing new models of corporate philanthropy that leverage their areas of expertise, the Washington Post reports.

Last week, for example, Yahoo! Inc. announced a partnership between One.org, an organization that fights AIDS and poverty, and Yahoo for Good Scrum, a six-month-old program that makes it possible for Yahoo! employees to take time off from their day jobs to share their technology expertise with nonprofit organizations; in making the announcement, the company said it plans to take on five similar projects a year. Other examples of the trend include Hewlett-Packard's Digital Villages project, which encourages employees to bring technology into central city communities; IBM's Transition to Teaching program, which helps teachers become accredited in math and science; and Google Inc., which recently donated $33 million in free ads to nonprofits in ten countries.

"Technology companies are waking up to the fact that they have to attract and maintain loyalty with their customers," said Carol Cone, who heads Cone Inc., a Boston consulting firm that develops corporate-giving programs. "Philanthropy allows a company to demonstrate its values in action and present a human face to its stakeholders."

Indeed, companies in almost every industry have been looking at philanthropy through a global lens and identifying areas where they can make a difference, said Judy Belk, senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. "Every philanthropy is keeping an eye on what [Bill Gates] is doing, not only because of the immense resources behind him but the thoughtfulness of what he's done."

Kim Hart. "Tech Firms Make Charitable Giving a Priority." Washington Post 06/17/2006.