Microsoft Silicon Valley is known for its innovation, but we are not just inventive when it comes to developing new technologies. For the 2014 Giving Campaign, we put our heads together and came up with some intriguing (and entertaining) approaches to encouraging employee donations.
Jessica Weare, who manages the Giving Campaign across the Silicon Valley campuses, says, “2014 was a huge success with over 85% participation in Silicon Valley. That’s our highest rate ever!”
This year’s Giving Campaign team wasn’t above a little sweet bribery. Jessica notes, “We brought hundreds of locally sourced, organic Kara’s cupcakes with us when we talked to teams about fundraising. After our cupcake visits, team participation jumped an average of 10-15%.”
Here are three other imaginative fundraising ideas that Giving Campaign volunteers tried in 2014:
1) Ping Pong Challenge
Business Administrator Randy Lim says, “The Ping Pong Challenge started last year and was based on the success of a foosball tournament that I organized in the past.”
Sandeep Khanna, Partner Director of Engineering in Display Management, is a big ping pong enthusiast and volunteered to let employees challenge him to a match.
All challengers donated $25 to participate. “If they beat Sandeep, he had to donate $100,” explains Randy. “If Sandeep beat the challenger, the Giving Campaign still made $25. Sandeep ended up donating $500 this year!”
“It’s great to see MSV leaders interact with employees around a common interest outside of work,” says Randy. “Also, who wouldn’t want to brag that they beat an exec in ping pong and made him donate $100 in your name for the Giving Campaign?”
2) Magic: The Gathering Tournament
Hosting a Magic: The Gathering tournament to raise money for the Giving Campaign is not a new idea so much as a reboot of an old favorite.
Sean D’Andrea, a Software Engineer for Outlook.com, was happy to restart the tradition and it paid off by raising some five thousand dollars for the campaign.
Sean says, “It’s not unreasonable for people to spend $25 on a similar event at a game store or on new releases of Magic cards. I figured that if people were willing to spend that for cardboard toys, they’d be willing to pay $25 for a good cause.”
He notes, “I was expecting to be running around, answering rules questions throughout, but I wound up with very little to do. There were a lot of experienced players and they were really patient and nice about teaching the rules to all of the new players.”
3) Dunk Tank
“Dunk tanks have been popular for fundraising in Redmond even though it’s freezing cold there this time of year,” says Guru Pangal, GM of Hybrid Storage. “I’d never seen a dunk event in the Valley and I figured that it could be really popular here with our warm weather.”
Pangal believes the dunk tank was successful for both fundraising and team bonding because it’s a social experience combined with a morale event. “Building software is hard,” he says. “We work long hours and the dunk tanks gives people a chance to blow off some steam in a wholesome way.”
He laughs, “At first, many of the employees were timid about sinking the senior leaders. The lines were bare and people didn’t throw very hard. But after the first leader fell in, everything changed. Almost instantly, the line increased to 40 people and everyone’s aim seemed to improve!”
Here’s looking forward to new and exciting events for the Giving Campaign next year. Who knows what we’ll come up with…