On the “Day of Caring”

Well, I spent Friday morning (and part of the afternoon) at the Center for Career Alternatives, down in the Rainier Valley. 

I wasn’t going to write about it, but this comment from Mat Hall pushed me over the top (profanity removed)

A lesser man may point out that it's a bit worrying that MSFT only take one day out a year to give a <darn>. 🙂

I’ve got to say that I take serious offense at that comment.  The reality is that Microsoft people take a heck of a lot more than a day to help others.  Every year I’ve worked at Microsoft, Microsoft’s sponsored a United Way affiliated giving campaign.  Annually Microsoft employees give millions of dollars.  In 2003, Microsoft employees gave over $16 million, which was matched by the company for a total of over $32.7 million in cash donations.  That’s just the gifts of cash through the Giving Campaign; Microsoft employees give far more than that as individuals.

The “Day of Caring” is a United Way program that gets employees of various companies out in the community helping with various projects.  The projects can range from helping to build a house with Habitat for Humanity, to talking to disadvantaged (what a horrible buzzword) youths, to weeding/beach cleanup, to painting, to sewing, etc.  There are literally hundreds of projects performed by dozens of companies as a part of the DoC – last year, over 7,000 volunteers from 190 organizations worked on 300 different projects.

All of this doesn’t include the hundreds of hours that are spent on private contributions – individuals donating their time and money to various organizations as private individuals, and not as Microsoft employees.

Microsoft’s dedication to corporate philanthropy goes back to Bill Gates mother, Mary Gates, who was (among other things) the chairman of United Way International.  Bill’s been heavily involved in philanthropic ventures for years, and his dedication has trickled down through the rest of the company.  Far from being a pack of self-centered millionaires, most of the people here that I know give a significant percentage of their income to charities (10% or more).

So it is a base canard to say that Microsoft people only take one day out of a year to give a darn – most of us spend a lot more than that helping out.


Comments (6)

  1. Anonymous says:

    You know Larry you shouldn’t take offense to it. Some people do not see the behind the scenese stuff that goes on. While I am not a MS employee I still see MS and all their employees helping millions every day. I am involved with http://www.volunteer-it.org/ and it is us IT people helping non profit groups who do not have staff or anything to help them with technology. You have no idea how many of the non profit groups we have been involved with have been litterally been getting ripped off by others because they just do not know technology.

    No this is not a MS sponsored thing. But they do give us the free OS’s the free tools, free help. We just do everything Microsoft for them. I know MS goes much deeper than just giving free tools and software to everything from blood time and patients. So don’t let one persons negativity get you down. When there are millions out there who know and see the other sides to MS.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been dealing all day with Microsoft software and problems that I attribute to confusing documentation, incomplete documentation, or worse, non updated documentation. Right now I hate and I loathe Microsoft.

    But you won’t find me saying they don’t give back to the communities. They do — and they give their employees’ a hell of a lot of wiggle room to do it themselves.

    How many days a year does my employer give me to train myself? None. How many days a year does my employer give me to work on a project like this? None. How many days a year does my employer give me to do anything but work for them?


    So tell the guy where to stick it and be proud of where you work Larry.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Directly from the Microsoft Careers Site



    Matching Charitable Donations

    Charitable donations are matched by Microsoft, up to $12,000 per year.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Apologies — I hoped the smiley made it clear I was joking! (I also hoped that the use/mention distinction was clear.) Either you completely missed my intentions, or I caught you at a bad moment…

    I’m well aware that MSFT do a lot in the way of "caring", and was just playing /. advocate, if you will. (Being European I know nothing of the United Way, so I assumed "Day of Caring" was a MSFT invention — unfortunately it somewhat spoils the joke that it’s a more generic thing.) MSFT are seen as a huge corporate monster by most people, and the fact that they had a "Day of Caring" struck me as making an amusing contrast. Then again, perhaps it’s just me… (Oh, and apologies for the swear, but as previously mentioned I’m European and we’re a lot more desensitised to such things — I don’t even think of it as profanity, especially in the context it was used.)

    [ Off with my tail between my legs… ]

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Mat, I knew that the comment wasn’t in keeping with your previous comments, so I was somewhat surprised to read it. For some reason I didn’t catch the sarcasm (my bad), but I’d wanted to write about the DoC anyway, and you gave me the incentive to do it :).

    I just don’t use profanity in my daily life, unless it’s REALLY warrented, I have other co-workers who use it though, it’s not that big a deal. I try to keep this a kid-safe blog (you never know when your kids will want to read what Daddy wrote), so I try to keep the salt at a minimum…

  6. Anonymous says:

    And of course in our house, ANYBODY who uses gratuitous profanity gets to wash their mouths with soap. If you use profanity, you’d better be quoting someone else. Swearing is fine; just keep it inventive 😉

    It’s funny when Daniel has his friends over. Most of them swear like the proverbial sailor and Daniel keeps telling them that if they keep swearing, his mom will make them wash their mouths out with soap. There is this dead silence on their part, and this look of total fear when I walk in to offer snacks. They do cut down significantly on the swearing, at least when I am around.

    I don’t have much appreciate the United Way. Personally I think they are too bloated in their finances, but they do funnel money to a great many small charities that most people haven’t heard about. Microsoft’s Day of Caring is, in many ways (and in my own opinion), a way to increase awareness of these small charities and get people to give directly to these worthwhile charities and bypass the UW so that the charities get 100% of the moneys donated to them.

    As usual, my opinions are probably hotly disputed but wholly my own fault.

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