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Hillary Clinton Encourages Tech Companies to Give Back

Hillary Clinton
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While speaking at Dreamforce 2014, a tech convention for cloud-based data management company SalesForce, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton focused on the ways tech companies can—and should—give back to their communities.

“What we have to be really focused on now is making sure that the benefits of technology to people’s lives outweigh the pitfalls,” said Clinton, adding that it was important that companies such as SalesForce are “creating more jobs, connecting up more families and communities, and expanding our horizons.”

SalesForce in particular has focused on charitable causes with their 1/1/1 model, which commits SalesForce to donating 1% of its time, products, and financial resources to humanitarian organizations. That’s meant $68 million in grants and 680,000 volunteer hours from staff for more than 23,000 nonprofits and schools around the world in the last 15 years.

These comments come at a time when companies at large, and particularly tech-oriented businesses, are cutting back on philanthropic giving. In 1986, corporations were giving 2.1% of profits to charity; by 2012, that percentage had dropped to 0.8%.

And though tech companies are generally doing well financially, many have still seen fit to take from their communities instead of giving back: Twitter negotiated $56 million in tax breaks from San Francisco to support its expansion, and Oracle convinced the city to use public funds to host America’s Cup race, which cost $11.5 million after dismal fundraising attempts fell short.

On the other hand, Google remains one of the most philanthropic US companies, donating $1.1 billion to charity in 2012—8.5% of its profits. However, most of these charitable donations go to international charities, begging the question of whether or not tech companies should be focusing more locally, or if all philanthropy is equally necessary.

In the wake of these events, Clinton’s Dreamforce speech encouraged industry leaders to fulfill what she described as their duty to use tech for social good, potentially kickstarting a new wave of philanthropic giving.

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How to Give Back in Everyday Ways

Giving Benefits
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One of the best things about giving back to your community is that doing good can be implemented in everyday ways. Rather than feeling like you need to book a trip to a foreign country to take part in humanitarian efforts or give your entire life savings to a charitable organization, there are many ways you can give back in realistic ways.

The first place to look is in your own bloodline. Rather than turning all your attention to finding a soup kitchen or nursing home in need of volunteers, look at those in your immediate circle and family to find those in need. Do you have a cousin or niece who doesn’t have money to get to school? Or how about an aunt who needs to be driven to the grocery store once a week? Remember, your family and circle of friends are just as deserving of your compassionate efforts to do good as anyone else.

Rather than just helping every once in awhile, find a way to give back regularly. When you donate your time and efforts consistently, especially with children, they can follow your example and you will inadvertently start a chain reaction. Your influence goes above and beyond just those you are in immediate contact with. Spread the influence, and “pay it forward” with regular good deeds and volunteer efforts.

Another easy way to give back with just a small change can be to rethink your birthday. Usually during the year, all our calendars begin to explode with all the things we have to do, and it seems like we will never have enough hours. This is when volunteering gets placed on the back burner. Instead, use a day like your birthday to give eight hours of service. This is one day that you can consistently dedicate to volunteer work each year.

How do you give back to your community in everyday ways?