Making a worthy cause work

Making a worthy cause work

Reseller News sees many examples of channel and IT firms giving support to charitable causes.

The annual Cure Kids race, the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and Movember - the charity that acts to raise awareness of prostate cancer and men’s depression - are examples of charitable campaigns in which technology companies have been active participants.

Each year, Oki and distributor Comworth support the 24-hour annual yacht race fundraiser for the Murray’s Bay Sailing Club.

Loud Shirt Day was another recent event that attracted tech participants – it’s the annual appeal of The Hearing House and the Southern Cochlear Implant Paediatric Programme.

Adobe and distributor Express Data have been helping Tear Fund’s Gift for Life initiative, which lets supporters give gifts from a catalogue to those in need.

Also, Maclean CEO Chris Maclean and Bizzone managing director Sarah Trotman were among those who slept rough on an inner city Auckland street recently to aid Lifewise, which seeks to end homelessness in Auckland by 2020.

Microsoft also recently made what it said was one of its largest donations of software licences to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for its new website.

There are, of course, many more cases where local technology firms have provided such support.

The Christchurch earthquake, while obviously not a planned event, was another cause that galvanised the industry.

Some companies needed to rebuild their own premises, or assist customers who had suffered damage or lost IT systems.

Others weren’t affected, but saw the need to keep the wheels of the IT sector turning for the sake of its members. Many launched staff welfare programmes and initiatives, while distributor Synnex offered free freight for South Island customers.

Smaller IT companies may feel charitable support is beyond their reach, especially in dicey economic times when resources are limited and budgets are tight.

But the benefits of corporate citizenship are such that every effort should be made to support causes of this nature. The key, however, is to be clear about the outcomes the company wants to achieve.

The recent Technology Investment Network’s annual index of the top 100 technology exporters showed that in the higher end of the market, tech firms as a group are the second biggest exporter behind the dairy industry.

Therefore, the IT industry’s wealth and resources at the high end of the market position it better than most to offer support for charitable causes.

However, corporate citizenship goes beyond money. Corporates see the benefit of giving staff time off for volunteer work, while tech companies are well positioned to offer hardware, software, websites and/or infrastructure to events and campaigns with a charitable bent.

Just as support need not be monetary, the rewards for the supporting companies go beyond economics.

Support for a cause is a chance for companies to demonstrate alignment with a campaign that shares similar cultural values, and for company leaders to demonstrate these values to staff.

It is also an opportunity to raise brand awareness or to launch a new element of a corporate identity.

Microsoft is one vendor that incorporates prizes for citizenship into its annual partner awards. Vendors should build these awards into their regimes to reward corporate citizenship among partner organisations - this will encourage greater philanthropy among the sector and stimulate sectorial growth.

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