Once again, Microsoft Silicon Valley (MSV) proved itself to be a fundraising hotspot in Microsoft's October Giving Campaign.
Is it MSV's unique work culture? MSV's location at the global nexus of tech and venture capital? Is it the sunshine?
An indisputable key to success in the Giving Campaign is participation. By the end of October, a whopping 79% of MSV employees had donated $25 or more this calendar year and some 30% gave at least $1000. A total of $2.7M was contributed to non-profit organizations and schools, including the matching funds (of up to $12,000 per employee) given by Microsoft. MSV will surely exceed its goal of 82% participation by December 31st.
But this level of employee participation does not materialize out of the blue. Passionate employees called Vice President Appointed Leads (VPALs) work relentlessly to inspire others to get involved.
Perhaps no one better personifies the VPAL role than Susan Catan of Xbox MSV. Susan has served as a VPAL for a number of years and received the "Most Inspirational" VPAL award for all of Microsoft in 2010. This year, Susan led the charge for the Interactive Entertainment Business groups at MSV.
We caught up with Susan to find out more about the Giving Campaign from the perspective of a VPAL.
Congratulations on another successful year as a VPAL. How long have you been involved with the Giving Campaign?
I started as a Giving Campaign Advocate seven years ago when I joined Microsoft and the IEB Hardware team. Then, 4 years ago, I transitioned into the VPAL role.
Why did you decide to become a VPAL?
I relish helping out in the community and wanted to do more. Educating the team about how with a little time and effort we can make a huge difference in the lives of others is very rewarding-a hidden benefit if you will.
What were your goals as a VPAL this year?
My goal is always to get 100% of our team participating in the campaign. This year we reached 90% within our team.
And what was your biggest challenge this year?
Our team has grown quite a bit over the past year, so we had to reach out to all our new hires and educate them on the Giving Campaign and Microsoft's matching program, which is the most generous in Silicon Valley.
How is the Giving Campaign unique at MSV?
We are successful in engaging our people because we help employees find a charity they can be passionate about and encourage them to advocate for that cause. Also, we try to make it an enjoyable process.
What about the MSV's culture makes it a successful place for fundraising?
MSV has the feel and culture of a small company. We all know each other and are vested in each other's success.
So, in many ways it is very grassroots. However, fundraising is also supported from the top-down. Many of our senior managers are passionate about fundraising and are a wonderful example to our new hires.
Most importantly, giving and volunteerism are not just something we do in October. We are focused on giving all year long; it's just a part of who we are at MSV.