Much more than IT: Microsoft volunteers support NGOs on many fronts
Microsoft’s more than 16,000 employees in Europe possess a great wealth of talent and skills, not only in software engineering, development and deployment but also in many non-IT fields that are essential for all successful organizations -- from marketing and public relations to customer relationship management and key corporate functions such as financial and human resources strategy and services.
|Program Fast Facts
About Microsoft’s Employee Volunteer Program
- Launched in 2007, the Employee Volunteer Program is a global Microsoft program to encourage Microsoft full-time employees to give time and expertise to community organizations and causes that inspire them.
- The program provides employees with up to 3 paid days per year for volunteer work on initiatives that help people all over the world to realize their full potential.
- Since 2007, almost every Microsoft subsidiary in Europe has formally implemented the “3 days to make a difference” policy which has enabled an extensive portfolio of subsidiary and individually-driven initiatives.
These skills are also much needed in the community sector, and a number of Microsoft employees have led the way in bringing a non-IT dimension to Microsoft’s employee volunteering program in Europe. Among them are Yaryna Klyuchlovska of Microsoft Ukraine, Noel Boyle of Microsoft Ireland, and Peter Maxmin and Colin Neal of Microsoft UK -- all finalists in Microsoft Europe’s 2010 European Volunteering Awards, in which Peter and Colin were named winners of the NGO Capacity-Building category.
In Ukraine, Yaryna Klyuchlovska, Microsoft’s director of public relations, brings deep expertise and years of media and communications experience to her volunteering roles, in which she acts as a teacher and mentor to NGOs and students. At Microsoft Ukraine’s NGO Connection Day, held over two days in January 2010 and attended by 110 people from 86 NGOs, Yaryna conducted a master class on “PR for NGOs” which drew the highest ratings in the participants’ survey.
"I would like to make special mention of the PR master class”, said one participant. “Using many well-known companies as examples as well as her own professional experience, Yaryna described the main components of PR and reputation as well as tools and best practices for working with the media, writing press releases and holding press conferences.”
Yaryna also gives her time and knowledge to students and young people by giving lectures and seminars at Lvov Business School and events organized by AIESEC, the global student leadership development, exchange and internship organization with which Microsoft has a global partnership. “Public relations is a relatively new profession in Ukraine, and there are very few education opportunities. I see it as my responsibility to share my 15 years’ worth of knowledge and experience with people making their first steps in the PR industry,” says Yaryna. “It also gives me an additional impetus to stay current with the latest developments in the PR profession and to talk about Microsoft with groups of bright young people – tomorrow’s influencers.”
In Ireland, Noel Boyle, a Microsoft HR consultant, saw volunteering with a NGO as a way to build an external dimension to his work and fulfill his interest in getting involved with a charitable organization. Noel was matched with Jonny Pardoe, HR manager at Jobcare Ltd, a charity that focuses on employment preparation training for long-term unemployed and socially excluded people in the inner city districts of Dublin. As a volunteer HR consultant, Noel meets every couple of months with Jonny and the Jobcare leadership team to discuss and make input on HR activities and issues.
“The outcome has been amazing for us,” says Jonny Pardoe of Jobcare. “In the three years that Noel has been meeting with us, we have produced a workable disciplinary and grievance procedure, updated our staff contracts, produced a full color handbook with all our policies and procedures and put in place HR mechanisms which liberate both the supervisors and the staff.”
“I had experienced many of the same scenarios and challenges that Jonny faces,” says Noel. “I also had recently done a training course on coaching methods so I was able to put into practice what I learned. For me the biggest satisfaction was hearing from Jonny that our work has given him more clarity and confidence in his role and is helping him to train and build capacity among other line managers. I have learned and Jobcare has benefited so that’s good for us both and I look forward to continuing my work with them.”
Jonny Pardoe says that the organizational benefits of his work with Noel are very tangible, in particular the near doubling of staff numbers to 15 fulltime and 72 participant staff. “I am convinced that the reason we are able to provide the extra services to people and have this many in the organization is primarily down to having the HR structure in place to deal with everyone in a fair and consistent way,” says Jonny. “The support and advice from Microsoft has been one of the tools that allow us to spend more time with individuals and increase the level of support they receive. It means now that even in a recession we are still seeing many people progress from our programs into full/part time training or employment.”
In the United Kingdom, where Peter Maxmin and Colin Neal worked in the Microsoft Online Marketing Strategy Group, they answered a request for volunteers to run a consulting project to audit the Homeless World Cup website and online strategy ahead of the 2009 Homeless World Cup in Milan, with the goal of improving online channel marketing and preparing a brief for upgrading the website.
Headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, the Homeless World Cup is an annual, international football tournament that uses football as a catalyst to encourage people who are homeless to change their lives; and to change the attitudes of governments, media, public and key influencers to create better solutions to homelessness around the world. The programme succeeds in improving the lives of homeless people with 30 percent of participants finding employment, sometimes even in professional football. In addition, grass-roots football programs in over 70 countries engage over 30,000 homeless players all year round.
Peter and Colin held several working session with the HWC marketing team to develop the site audit including target audiences, content for specific audiences, user interface issues, search engine optimization, online fundraising and merchandise sales, and best practices online by peer similar organizations. Peter and Colin’s report assisted the HWC team in making a range of improvements to the HWC website ahead of the 2009 HWC. It also informed HWC’s brief for the creation of the next version of the website, with very good feedback from digital agencies that received the brief.
Peter and Colin also enlisted the support of colleagues in MSN Italy to assist with further innovations before the HWC global tournament in Milan. The MSN Italy team developed a specific MSN.it channel for HWC Milan
, including video and team stories, and MSN Italy became an official media partner for the event. HWC are very pleased with the partnership, and Peter and Colin have continued to work with HWC on their new site design, which utilizes Microsoft technologies.
“Microsoft’s volunteering programme allowed us to take an active part in helping HWC with their website strategy and design allowing them to re-launch their website just before the 2010 tournament in Rio de Janeiro,” says Colin Neal of his and Peter’s experience. “The volunteering programme is an important and rewarding part of life at Microsoft and I encourage colleagues to join in!”