Every year Microsoft launches a giving campaign to encourage employees to give back to the community monetarily as well as via volunteerism. Since 2005 the ‘soft has been matching employee donations dollar-for-dollar up to $12,000 per employee. More than that, if I volunteer with an organization, that organization will get paid $17 for every hour I’m there. Every year, Microsoft employees give hundreds of thousands to non-profit organizations (NPOs), and every dollar the employs give gets matched with a dollar from the company. I personally think this is one of my biggest perks and benefits of working for the company.
Today was my organization’s non-profit fair and bake sale, where we invite about 30 NPOs to come in and tell us about what they do while we have a bake sale to raise money for them collectively. It was fun afternoon staffing the event and learning about the diverse work that is going on in the Seattle area. Here are a few that I’m considering giving to (besides my local NPR and independent radio stations). I’m also thinking that it’s time to start getting involved:
Crisis Clinic (www.crisisclinic.org/volunteer) – This one is pretty intense, but has a great potential for service and personal reward for myself. The Crisis Line volunteers undergo about 56 hours of specialized training and they require a commitment of at least 4 hours a week. However, the reward appears to be wonderful and it serves a great need: their goal is to empower people to make positive life changes by connecting people to the resources that they need in times of crisis.
FareStart (www.farestart.org) – The goal of FareStart is to provide job training and placement for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. They do this by teaching culinary skills (including the basics of management) to their clients. There are several ways to get involved, but the most interesting looked to be volunteering as kitchen help on the weekends when they prepare meals for several thousand people in the Seattle area.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound (www.bbbsps.org) – Most people are familiar with BBBS. It’s always been indimidating for me to think about getting involved with a Little, but Cassie has given me new insight to the experience of being a Big. She’s inspired me to think that I would really enjoy giving as a Big, so I’m looking into this one.
Eastside Domestic Violence Program (www.edvp.org) – The volunteer who introduced me to this program really impressed me. Their programs appear really solid and they serve a huge community with a smallish staff by comparison. They run a 24-hour crisis line, as well as being very active in advocacy, education, & training.
King Counter Sexual Assault Resource Center (www.kcarc.org) – Like EDVP, KCARC focuses their efforts in advocacy, education, & training but centered primarily on issues of sexual assault. Their mission is to alleviate … “the trauma of sexual assault for victims and their families”.
Earth Share of Washington (www.esw.org) – What I liked about this organization is that they focus on identifying other organizations that have the goal of improving climate impact, reducing pollution, preserving forests & wildlife, supporting recreation and parks, and advancing sustainable communities. I want to support organizations with these goals, and ESW simplifies that to a certain degree by redistributing donation gifts. They don’t like to be called this, but they’re kinda the United Way of Earth-minded organizations.
I don’t know where I’m going to be giving my time or money quite yet, but I think between these organizations I’ve got a good start. Any thoughts or ideas about these or others are appreciated.