In 1986, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed Nov. 15 as National Philanthropy Day to “reinvigorate the American spirit of neighbor helping neighbor.” Around that same time, “corporate social responsibility” became a catch-phrase and goodwill began to seep into business plans. Today, thousands of companies from startups to multi-billion dollar firms consider themselves philanthropic companies and invest in social and environmental causes that are frequently aligned with company goals. Here are five well-known tech companies and how they’re positively impacting the world.
In 1982, the same year that Time magazine called personal computers “Machines of the Year,” computer programmer John Walker invented AutoCAD, a computer-aided design software. The program revolutionized design by giving architects and engineers the ability to draft and model buildings on a computer. Today, the Autodesk Foundation leverages the company’s expertise to fund design efforts aimed at addressing environmental, social, health and education challenges. Through grants, donations and partnerships, Autodesk helps nonprofit organizations, social and environmental entrepreneurs, early-stage ventures and more affect change. The company also encourages their employees to provide services pro bono and to volunteer for special events.
As a global leader in information technology and networking, Cisco Systems uses hardware and software to connect people, societies and the planet — their philanthropic priorities. As a result, their charitable ventures extend far and wide. When it comes to people, Cisco allows their employees to take five days of paid time off to volunteer, said Fortune. When it comes to society, the company’s charitable extension, the Cisco Foundation, teams up with other nonprofits as well as non-governmental organizations to develop technology-based solutions that address education, economic and social disparities. When it comes to the planet, the company works to minimize waste and greenhouse gas emissions and also funds welfare groups that advocate for domestic and wild animals.
In 2005, Google — now held by the firm Alphabet — founded Google.org, the charitable arm of the search engine giant. The nonprofit harnesses Google’s vast, expert knowledge of technology and data to, among other things, support racial justice, improve educational opportunities for underserved communities, assist job seekers and improve employment opportunities and offer crisis response after health epidemics and natural disasters. In 2017, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai announced the Grow with Google initiative meant to offer American workers and veterans free skills training and tools to fortify their career plans or business. The company also earmarked $1 billion in Google.org grants over five years for global nonprofits, and offered 1 million volunteer hours from Google employees.
This global aerospace and defense technology company headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, has deep, historical roots in scientific research and technology. The firm was formed in 1994 after Northrop Aircraft, founded in 1939, bought Grumman Aerospace, the company that built the Apollo Lunar Module, which put humans on the moon. With a past so immersed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Northrop Grumman has made it a priority to invest in STEM education as a way to inspire future scientists, engineers and technicians.
The company’s Aid to Higher Education, for instance, offers grants that support scholarships, student organizations and STEM projects that advance research and technology at college and universities. Because Northrop Grumman works closely with the military, it actively recruits veterans and wounded warriors and contributes to veteran service organizations like the USO, Operation Gratitude, Armed Services YMCA and more. The company’s charitable organization, the Northrop Grumman Foundation, also supports national-level STEM programming, including for grades K-12.
The interactive graphics of video games require complex computer chips that process millions of calculations per second. Back in 1993, Nvidia, based in Santa Clara, invented such a computer chip and brought the future of gaming into the present. As part of their charitable work, Nvidia Foundation has committed to tackling what is arguably one of the world’s most complex problems: cancer. Through their Compute the Cure initiative, the company donates to cancer researchers who use innovative computing techniques to research, diagnose and treat the disease, as well as to nonprofit groups that focus on cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and end-of-life care. Nvidia also encourages its employees to participate in walks, runs, and fundraising events to fight cancer. To date, the company has invested $4.5 million toward a cure.
On National Philanthropy Day, individuals, communities and philanthropic companies are recognized for trying to make the world a better place. Businesses that donate money, resources and employee time help strengthen bonds, not only between their coworkers, but between the organization and the community at large.