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10 cool ways tech companies give it up for charity

Ann Bednarz | Dec. 8, 2015
The philanthropic landscape is vast, and finding the right charitable fit for a company takes time.

charity 3
Credit: Stephen Sauer

From Philadelphia to Phoenix and points in between, the Commvault Hockey Team is lacing up their skates this winter to raise awareness and money for children's organizations.

The data-management vendor's Hockey Helping Kids program, now in its 16th season, runs hockey events in NHL arenas across the country. Employees, partners, customers and kids have a chance to skate with former NHL and Olympic players. Raffles and auctions are part of each day-long event, and all proceeds go to designated children’s charities.

Getting kids, many of whom have disabilities, on the NHL ice with the other players is one of the most rewarding parts of the program, says Randy DeMeno, chief technologist at Commvault.

As the father of a child with autism, DeMeno understands the value of inclusion. “Through a lot of work, cost and effort, he is now a 21-year-old sophomore in college with a 3.2 GPA. He grew up playing high school-level ice hockey,” DeMeno says of his son. “Inclusion was a key for his success growing up, which is why we make it a point to include the kids of the charities we're often working with.”

Playing hockey to help kids works great for Commvault – its program has raised more than $1 million so far. But obviously not every vendor will gravitate to hockey. The philanthropic landscape is vast, and finding the right charitable fit for a company takes time.

We heard from tech companies – big and small – that have found ways to launch and develop philanthropic programs. Here are some approaches that work for them.

Choose a cause that’s meaningful

Natural disasters hit close to home for Vertafore, since the software maker’s customers – insurance agents – regularly face crisis situations. That’s one reason Vertafore’s charitable efforts include rapid-response volunteering initiates, such as a lunch delivery drive the company held in the aftermath of the 2014 mudslide in Oso, Washington. Vertafore packed and delivered 100 boxed lunches to disaster relief workers at the site.

“It’s cool that volunteering is part of our culture here,” says Mary Balestriere, a SharePoint specialist at Vertafore. “One of the reasons I like working here is the company supports volunteerism with time away from my desk, and matching contributions to projects I care about.”

Play to your strengths

A number of vendors tap internal expertise and company technology to benefit nonprofit and community organizations.

Big data startup Trifacta offered up its technology and office space for a DataDive event put on by DataKind. Trifacta hosted three volunteer teams from local nonprofits – Mission Economic Development Agency, San Francisco Health Improvement Partnership, and TechSoup Global – which used Trifacta’s technology to profile, clean and standardize their respective data stores in order to make better use of the data.


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