How Microsoft Employees are Helping the Community

Feb 9, 2012 5:30 PM ET

How Microsoft Employees are helping the Community

Jon Fine – CEO United Way of King County

Bill Gates once said “It takes more than great products to make a great company.” It’s clear to pretty much everybody by now that Microsoft has that ”more” that Bill was talking about. Having been a partner with Microsoft for 30 years, United Way of King County has seen it first-hand. Our communities have benefited from Microsoft’s great vision, great passion, great generosity and most importantly, Microsoft’s great employees. After all, it is you who make it all happen.

The fact that Microsoft employees raised $100 million for non-profits in 2011 is striking to me – not only because you broke your own record of giving over the past 30 years, more because of what I know it will accomplish in our communities.

The tough economy has brought with it tough times, and we’ve all heard our fair share of stories about how people are struggling or how great the needs are. While the needs are great, I don’t think we’ve heard enough about the incredible accomplishments that our local business community and nonprofit partners have achieved during that time, or the innovative solutions we’ve launched together.

Gifts from Microsoft employees provided 1,183,512 food bank visits in King County during 2011. That’s more than one million times in the last year that a person or a family avoided going hungry because of you. That’s something that I think needs to be heard. Here’s another one. Last year at this time we had 160 families in our Parent-Child Home Program, but thanks to donations from you, and a $1 million donation from Microsoft, we’ve expanded the program to 500 families this year and will hit 1,000 families next. That’s future proof. That’s innovative. That’s Microsoft.

Volunteering. That’s Microsoft too. Of the 11,000 people that participated in United Way of King County’s Day of Caring, guess how many were from Microsoft? 6,000 volunteers. That’s not all though. Many of you are volunteering year-round, like Jill. Jill is a Free Tax Preparation Volunteer who helps low-income families find their way through the tax filing maze so they can save more money. She believed so strongly in the value of the program that she worked to establish another tax site on the Eastside of King County so more Microsoft employees could take part in volunteering. Our United Way staffer Kate has this to say about Jill and the other Microsoft volunteers:

“Those guys are crazy and they have a lot of fun, even hanging out together outside of tax prep. The clients can tell from the moment they walk in that they are in a safe and friendly place and they are going to get taken care of.” Let’s not forget either that our Free Tax Prep program brought back $19.1 million to the community and low income families last year.

So Bill had it right, it does take more than a great product to make a great company, and Microsoft has it. It has you, and you make the company and the community great. Let’s all try to focus on the positive this year and keep the innovative and great work rolling.

A number of you have already made the commitment to stand with us for Hunger Action Week in March, and I look forward to seeing the great things we will accomplish together in coming years.

Thank you all.