Microsoft this week announced plans to expand its corporate philanthropy globally, and to the people who really need it. It will create a new Microsoft Philanthropies organization to focus on these efforts.
“Our CEO, Satya Nadella, has defined a clear mission for Microsoft: Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” Microsoft president Brad Smith explains. “In his letter to shareholders this year, he said, ‘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?'”
As part of this effort, Microsoft has promoted Mary Snapp to head Microsoft Philanthropies, and Lori Forte Harnick will serve as the organization’s COO. Snapp will report directly to Mr. Smith.
Microsoft’s holistic view of technology—and the benefits it can bring to mankind—is interesting. The firm collectively believes, Smith says, that delivering on its corporate mission only starts with great technology. “But great technology alone is not enough,” he writes. “The benefits of technology are not yet reaching everyone in the world, despite global expansion, increased access, and democratization of technology. Too many of technology’s benefits have yet to reach people who need them.”
To correct this issue, Microsoft will simply do more, Smith asserts.
“Empowerment begins with inclusion, Smith continues. “Through Microsoft Philanthropies, we will contribute in new and more impactful ways to a societal ecosystem that connects the benefits of technology to those who need it most and work harder to drive inclusive growth of the global economy. We will strive to bridge gaps within and across communities through more widespread access to technology that enhances the productivity and quality of life for the people of those communities. The opportunity to do this is greater than ever with the power of cloud computing and the potential of data science.”
As for specifics, Smith offers up the following goals for Microsoft’s new corporate organization.
Invest in digital inclusion programs and partnerships.Here, Microsoft will make “strategic societal investments of cash and technology,” better utilize its employees and their unique technical talents, engage in “creative and collaborative partnerships, and [will invest in] the reach and scale of [its] brand and voice.” Microsoft will invest cash and technology in nonprofit partnerships, and will complement its Affordable Access Initiative, which is designed to help new business grow in remote areas and connect people to the cloud.
Drive greater inclusion and empowerment of people who do not yet have access to technology and the opportunities it offers and enables. Smith says that Microsoft will build on the foundation of over 30 years of giving and the insights from many partners and user communities. This includes the aforementioned non-profit organizations, social good marketing initiatives, such as the recent Upgrade Your World campaign, and an expansion of the firm’s public advocacy work beyond education so that it also encompasses “additional issues of digital inclusion, such as serving the needs of displaced or remote communities.”
“Today is the first step in the journey of Microsoft Philanthropies, and we look forward to engaging with our long-standing partners and our yet-to-be-discovered partners to strengthen a societal ecosystem that will deliver the benefits of technology to people with the greatest need and create inclusive and enduring positive impact throughout our communities,” Mr. Smith’s letter concludes.