Microsoft Venture Expands Philanthropic Investment

Tech giant reaffirms commitment to philanthropic mission with launch of new organization


Microsoft is known for its charitable programs, mainly thanks to the ongoing work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

One of the reasons that StratusLIVE is built on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform is Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to continuously improve not only technology, but the lives of those who use it as well.

Microsoft’s own mission statement reads: “Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

In addition to the Gates Foundation, Microsoft has also famously led the way in corporate giving, volunteer grants, and gift matching over the course of 30 years that recently topped the billion dollar mark.

Now they’ve announced that they will be stepping up their game even more.

In a letter to shareholders this year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella vowed, “In the year ahead we will continue to ask ourselves what are the challenges mankind faces, how can technology help, and what is the contribution of Microsoft?”

Microsoft Philanthropic President Brad Smith

Microsoft President Brad Smith

It is in this philanthropic spirit that company president and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith announced the creation of a new venture: Microsoft Philanthropies.

Smith shared details of the renewed mission in a post on the official Microsoft blog.

In the post, he outlines the impetus behind the creation of Microsoft Philanthropies. The overarching theme seems to be promoting digital inclusion.

According to Smith, this means bringing the benefits of technology to those who need it most. Here are some of the challenges cited by Smith that Microsoft hopes to tackle:

  • Poverty limits access to the very tools that can empower people to create a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.
  • A lack of education – especially in STEM disciplines – limits the ability of people to participate in the opportunities created by the growth of the global economy.
  • Accessibility remains a key challenge, with too many people with disabilities encountering barriers to using essential new technologies.
  • People in remote or displaced communities often confront great challenges accessing technology and information when they need it most.

“Microsoft Philanthropies will invest in digital inclusion programs and partnerships,” wrote Smith. “These assets include our strategic societal investments of cash and technology, the technical talents of our employees, our commitment to creative and collaborative partnerships, and the reach and scale of our brand and voice.”

Microsoft hopes to address these problems by employing the following four strategies:

  • Making key investments – donating funds and technology to other nonprofits
  • Tapping their workforce – matching employee skillsets with community needs
  • Working with partner organizations – gaining on-the-ground insights
  • Leveraging their global brand – calling attention to worthy causes

Smith also announced that the endeavor will be spearheaded by longtime Microsoft employees Mary Snapp, who joined Microsoft in 1988 as its first female attorney, and Lori Forte Harnick, who will be the organization’s Chief Operating Officer.

While upcoming philanthropic projects have not yet been identified, it appears that the new organization will become the umbrella under which all of Microsoft’s current charitable programs will be managed.

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