10 Tech Companies That Are Making the World a Better Place
A Note From The Editor
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In a 2014 report on the impact of millennials on company culture, researchers discovered that this new generation of business professionals entering the workforce has far more contemporary views and priorities when it comes to corporate social responsibility and charitable giving, in particular with the impact they can have on it.
In general, millennials, or those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s, are looking to make an impact with more than their checkbooks. Millennials are leading the way for individual, skill-based volunteering.
This mindset is having a strong influence on the way companies, specifically tech companies who employ many millennials, give charitably. While working to make the world a better place, many top tech companies are not only giving financially, but also through providing services and other opportunities unique to their core strengths.
Here are ten companies that are leading this charge and setting a great example for others.
Ecommerce giant Amazon launched a new branch of the site called AmazonSmile. By simply shopping at the URL, smile.amazon.com, customers can support their favorite charities at no cost to themselves. AmazonSmile provides the same low prices, wide selection and convenience you would find at Amazon (in fact, there is no difference in the pages), but with every purchase through AmazonSmile, Amazon donates a portion of that purchase price to an approved charitable organization that is selected by the customer.
AmazonSmile currently offers a selection of almost 1 million different eligible 501(c)(3) public charitable organizations.
Microsoft’s charitable gift of choice seems to be product donations. In 2014, the company donated various technology equipment to more than 86,000 organizations in 125 different countries around the world. The aim of these gifts was to affordably bring nonprofits into the 21st century by supplying everything from computers to software to refurbished hardware.
Additionally, Microsoft has offered a volunteer match program since 2005. Every time a Microsoft employee volunteers at a charity for at least four hours, that nonprofit receives $25 per hour from Microsoft. Sounds like even more incentive for Microsoft employees to spend some quality time volunteering.
Since its founding in 1999, Salesforce has adopted a "1/1/1 Model" when it comes to charitable giving. The company donates 1 percent of its employee time, 1 percent of its product resources and 1 percent of its profits to charitable causes. Charitable giving has grown with the company, and in the 16 years since adopting this philosophy, Salesforce has donated $96 million in grants, provided equipment for more than 26,000 nonprofits and employees volunteered more than 1.1 million hours.
The retail site Zappos has long donated a percentage of its products, which include clothes and shoes, to nonprofits. Additionally, the company allows employees to take paid time off to volunteer and has hosted numerous charitable events, such as Operation Glass Slipper, which provides prom clothes for girls who cannot afford them.
SurveyMonkey Contribute rewards users for taking surveys by making a charitable donation to a participating charity of the user’s choice at no charge. So far, SurveyMonkey Contribute has raised more than $5 million in donations for a variety of charities, including Doctors Without Borders, American Red Cross and The Humane Society of the United States.
An example of a smaller company taking social giving to a new level is Toptal, a global network of elite freelance-software developers, which is channeling its expertise and experience to help aspiring software engineers from underrepresented and low income backgrounds through the company’s Toptal Global Mentors Program.
In partnership with General Assembly, Toptal developers provide the equivalent of $1 million worth of tutoring and mentorship time to General Assembly students on a completely remote basis. Toptal has also donated $100,000 to establish Toptal Fellowships to the General Assembly Opportunity Fund with the same mission: to empower disadvantaged individuals with the training they need for success in the tech industry.
Pledgeling is a new app that makes giving to charity easier than ever. The idea is that we have become so accustomed to buying things in as few “clicks” as possible -- from household items to music -- the same should be true about charitable donations. The company behind the app allows users to centralize all of their donations in one place, so everything is easy to find at tax time. Plus, the app has a real-time dashboard of philanthropic activity for users so they can see and monitor who they have given to, how much they have given and when they gave.
8. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a website that offers practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalized learning dashboard that empowers students to study at their own pace. All of its resources are 100 percent free for every user, and the site has teaching materials for a wide range of subjects.
Honorable mentions: Apple and Google
We should not go without mentioning tech giants Apple and Google, which have given the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars through leveraging their employees and unique offerings.
Tim Cook, immediately after becoming Apple’s CEO in April 2011, promptly instituted a program to match employee donations, and since the start of this program, Apple has matched more than $25 million worth of employee donations. Apple matches individual employee donations for up to $10,000 per year, and most 501(c)(3) or equivalent organizations are eligible to receive matching gifts.
Google also makes a huge impact. In addition to matching $21 million in employee donations to more than 9,000 worldwide organizations, Google allows employees to donate their work time as well. In 2014 alone, more than 6,500 Google employees volunteered a total of almost 80,000 hours of service. That is a combined total of more than nine years of volunteer hours in just one year.
While the tech industry leads in innovation, tech companies are now leading in unique ways to give back and setting a shining example for other companies, big and small, that are looking for new and exciting ways to make an impact in their communities beyond financial contributions. With many young business professionals supporting this new strategy, as well as the many benefits it offers both employee and employer alike, it appears this trend could be here to stay.
What unique ways have you seen companies give back to the community? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.