Microsoft employees play a match of Quidditch, the popular sport in the Harry Potter series, as part of the company’s employee giving campaign in October.

Employee giving program furthers Microsoft workers’ philanthropic impact

Part of Microsoft Corp’s mission is to help the world do more.

For Iris Childress, a senior program manager for Enterprise Commerce at the Redmond-based company, this line of thinking is extended to its philanthropic arm, the Microsoft Employee Giving Program, as the tech giant empowers workers to do more for their community.

Employees donate money as well as their time to various nonprofit organizations or schools and through the program, Microsoft will match their contributions, up to $15,000 per employee, per calendar year. Volunteer hours are matched at a rate of $25 per hour.

While the giving program is year long, Microsoft has an annual, month-long campaign in October to rally each other to contribute to the causes of their choice.

Karen Bergin, director of employee engagement for Microsoft Philanthropies, said throughout October, there are company-wide activities as well as specific division activities. Company-wide activities have included an online auction, a 5K walk/run and car show. The divisional events have included bake sales, various types of tournaments and group volunteer opportunities.

Activities from this year included an auction to cut off an employee’s “man bun” for the UNICEF’s Hurricane Matthew relief fund, a Quidditch tournament based on the sport from the Harry Potter series for the Technology Access Foundation (TAF) and a rock-paper-scissors tournament for Strong Against Cancer.

Last year, through the giving program, employees raised $125 million for more than 18,000 nonprofits and schools around the world. This was the fifth year in a row that employees raised more than $100 million.

“It’s great to be part of that,” Childress said.

As a member of The Links Incorporated Greater Seattle Chapter — a nonprofit focused on enriching, sustaining and ensuring the identities, culture and economic survival of African Americans and persons of African descent — Childress has mentored teenage girls through its Building STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) program. She has also volunteered her time at the organization’s summer camp at the Pacific Science Center.

Peyton Washington, a seventh-grader at the TAF Academy in Kent, who has participated in the Links’ Building STEAM programs, said she has learned “plenty of stuff” from her experiences such as how to code robots. By working with women in technology such as Childress, Peyton said she feels empowered that she can do any type of job a man could do in the technology industry.

Peyton’s mother, Colleen Washington, added that watching her African American children be part of something positive and empowering and be around other girls and women of color is exciting. Washington also likes that Peyton has made friends through the program and shares experiences and a community with them.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Ninevah Lowery, public relations chair for Links, about being on the receiving end of Microsoft’s giving program.

A recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest, she said she is in awe with the area’s philanthropic organizations and Microsoft’s matching employees’ contributions carries on that tradition to support the community.

For Harmony Mabrey, a risk manager at Microsoft, the giving program has allowed her to bring her professional experience in the tech industry to help others —both through her volunteering with the Junior League of Seattle and Humanitarian Toolbox. The former is a women’s leadership organization focused on understanding the community’s needs and the latter is a charity that supports disaster relief organizations with open source software and services.

Mabrey said it is great to work for a company whose matching policy allows her to expand her personal impact and makes her feel more engaged to do more.

“It’s really exciting for me,” she said.