Submitted by Microsoft
When Linda Kohn set out last year to become the top fundraiser among Microsoft employees, her main cause was raising money for the Northwest AIDS Foundation. "This cause is very important to me, because I would venture to say we all have lost at least one dear family member or friend [to AIDS]," Kohn said. "It's just a horrible, horrible disease for which there is no cure yet."
Kohn, a specialist in negotiating the rights to copyrighted material used in Microsoft products, said she takes particular delight in seeing Microsoft honored for its contributions to the community. "It's one of my pet peeves to see all the negative press Microsoft is getting," she said. "Microsoft has been very generous in the community, nationwide and worldwide. Microsoft does a lot for the AIDS Foundation, and for a lot of other causes as well."
Lee Heck, the foundation's director of development and marketing, said that since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic Microsoft has demonstrated "phenomenal leadership," both organizationally and financially. "Microsoft's gifts, which have been made so generously over the last decade or more, have helped fund the gap between what it takes to run our programs and the federal grants we receive," he said.
"First and foremost, it's an honor for our company to be recognized by the Northwest AIDS Foundation," said Bruce Brooks, Microsoft's director of community affairs. Brooks oversees the company's charitable programs, which last year donated more than $104 million in cash and software to nonprofit organizations. "In many respects, it's also humbling. Microsoft and its employees are fortunate to be able to help fine organizations like the Northwest AIDS Foundation, and in turn to help people who are having difficulty. To know that these efforts are truly making a positive difference in people's lives is a wonderful affirmation of how and why we value the communities in which we live and work."
Microsoft has contributed to the Northwest AIDS Foundation in several ways throughout the years. Through its community affairs department, Microsoft has given the foundation $173,500 in cash since 1996.During the same period, individual Microsoft employees have given another $485,000. Microsoft has matched that amount dollar-for-dollar with $485,000 more. In all, the company and its employees have given $1.14 million to the Northwest AIDS Foundation.
The figure may even be higher. "In many cases, employees give beyond the amount that is matched by the company," said Sarah Meyer, senior program manager for community affairs. "We have no way of tracking that.
"For Microsoft and its employees, the real link with the agency is the tremendous employee volunteerism and fundraising," Meyer said. "Microsoft employees are getting involved, rolling up their sleeves and contributing their time, talents and money."
The Northwest AIDS Walk, held each September (this year's Walk is September 24), is the single biggest fundraising event each year for AIDS, and Microsoft employees have been participating in the event for several years. Heck said Microsoft's teams "year in and year out raise more money than anyone else."
"The AIDS walk is the single biggest media event around HIV and AIDS, and our chance to engage the Seattle-King County community about the fight against AIDS, and Microsoft is a big part of that," Heck said.
Brooks oversees the company's charitable programs, which last year gave more than $104 million in cash and software to nonprofit organizations. "First and foremost, it's an honor to be recognized by the Northwest AIDS Foundation," he said. "Through our employees supporting this effort, we believe that together we can make a significant difference for people and their lives in this community. We are very honored and pleased to be recipients of the award."
Microsoft contributes to organizations that may not be on many people's radar screens, but should be, he said. The money goes for general support, which enables them to become successful in the long run. "This is a way to make sure the Northwest AIDS Foundation can be successful in meeting its goals. We understand that an organization like this has costs."
Elliott Night, operations manager for Microsoft Internal Technical Education, said employee involvement with the Northwest AIDS Foundation began several years ago when members of her team at Microsoft started passing around e-mail about the need for funds. "For me, it started out when a group of us on my team wanted to raise money because it is a cause that's important to all of us," she said. "It kind of snowballed, as more and more people got involved. AIDS strikes close to everyone here. We all know someone who is affected one way or another. Everyone has a great outpouring of support for this cause."
Night said while employees are great at coming up with money for various causes, Microsoft itself is also very giving. "It makes me feel good working for a company that not only is aware of issues, but is very supportive. For Microsoft, it isn't something that happens one time, and then it's done. Every year, we gear up for it and do what we can, not only as individuals but as a company, to address this issue."
The Northwest AIDS Foundation, founded in 1983, has focused on AIDS prevention and education in King County. It also provides grant funding throughout Washington state, and does policy advocacy work on the local, state and national levels.
In 1999, Microsoft's contributions helped the Foundation serve 75 percent of the people in King County living with AIDS, while reaching 50,000 people who were at the highest risk for contracting HIV.
Heck said the support from Microsoft and others is important to help educate the public that the AIDS epidemic is not over. "We have to remain hyper-vigilant," he said. "Apathy is potentially our biggest enemy."
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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