American corporations gave more than $18 billion in charitable donations in 2015. Technology is helping companies effectively expand their philanthropic footprint — whether it’s in scale, reach, efficiency or some other way.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has changed along with the mindset of today’s employees. According to a 2014 Nielson study, millennials are significantly more responsive to CSR, not only when it comes to consumption but also in making employment decisions. Corporate social responsibility is no longer simply part of a company’s marketing mix. Organizations looking to attract and retain top talent are investing in CSR in meaningful ways.
Innovative technologies have made it easier for employees to give in a more impactful way — and to connect personally with those they’re helping to better understand the impact they’re making.
Facebook brings internet to Africa
Facebook has the ambitious goal of bringing internet access to everyone around the world. CEO Mark Zuckerberg created Internet.org and came up with the idea to use drones, satellites and lasers to provide internet connectivity to people in areas without the necessary infrastructure.
“We’ve made good progress so far,” Zuckerberg wrote in a 2014 post on Facebook. “Over the past year, our work in the Philippines and Paraguay alone has doubled the number of people using mobile data with the operators we’ve partnered with, helping 3 million new people access the internet.”
Rather than simply donating to the cause through another digital literacy foundation, Facebook has dedicated the innovative thinking of its workforce to extend the reach of the digital world in a more efficient and immediate way.
2U delivers educational outcomes no matter where students are
2U partners with the nonprofit Pencils of Promise to bring quality education to students in developing nations such as Ghana, Guatemala and Laos. While the main purpose of the nonprofit is to help communities in those areas build schools, 2U has found ways to use technology to further its efforts.
2U and Pencils of Promise have provided e-readers to students in communities that often don’t have more than a few books for the entire population. With a single device, students now have access to hundreds of books that are appropriate to those regions.
2U also gives employees virtual tours of the campuses they help develop through the partnership, directly linking their charitable giving and work to tangible outcomes — something that’s often missing in corporate philanthropy but nevertheless impactful.
The Lagos Solar Project
Schneider Electric and Microsoft brought their respective technologies to the Lagos Solar Project, an initiative in Nigeria that uses solar power to charge batteries and bring electricity and smart utilities to the region’s institutions, like schools and clinics. Nigerians otherwise depend on only a few hours of electricity per day.
Using Microsoft’s Azure IoT technology, battery power is converted into electricity and remotely monitored and maintained, enhancing the output of the program.
HopeLine from Verizon
Many people have old cell phones they’re not using, and Verizon wants to use those phones to help support victims and survivors of domestic violence. In addition to issuing grants to nonprofit organizations working to prevent domestic violence, Verizon uses its platform to collect unused phones, battery chargers and accessories in any condition, from any provider, to refurbish or recycle. Proceeds from the sales of refurbished phones are used to support nonprofits and purchase new cellphones to distribute to survivors of domestic violence.
With its SafetyNet program, IBM aims to help those who want to help others. The program offers nonprofit organizations access to its Social Enterprise and Smarter Care Curam platform to standardize, centralize and analyze data on their contracts, programs and clients. With SafetyNet, charitable organizations can spend less time on the tech side of their operations and more time focusing on their mission. Rather than offering these services to one organization, IBM has provided access to all nonprofits, giving the company the opportunity to impact more charitable efforts.