Presented by Dallas Business Journal

Microsoft in Redmond-BloombergMost companies have some sort of community outreach program for their employees, but few stack up to what Microsoft has going on.

Sure, the Redmond giant has a leg up in donation totals because of its sheer size, but the company also reports 67 percent of all employees donated time and money in 2014.

Microsoft employees raised $117 million in 2014 including donations and company matches, and logged 500,000 volunteer hours. Microsoft employs roughly 1,200 people at its offices in Irving.

The average Microsoft employee volunteered for about four hours and donated $441, we found after crunching some numbers the company released.

That’s an impressive engagement for any company, and a record high for Microsoft, says Lori Forte Harnick, the company’s general manager of citizenship.

I recently had a chance to ask Harnick how Microsoft is able to pull off that kind of participation.

Here are three tips she had for companies trying to boost their employee engagement in outreach programs.

1. “Go where your employees are.”

Harnick said Microsoft doesn’t try to tell employees which causes to give to. The company lets employees find their own nonprofits and then matches donations and volunteer hours – whether it’s to help the environment, youth, animals or whatever other causes employees may take up.

2. “ Make it as easy as possible.”

Microsoft has an internal website where employees can find local nonprofits others have worked with before. They also go there to easily log their donations and volunteer hours. Employees don’t need to get pre-approved or jump through a lot of hoops. If you want them to participate, it’s going to have to be seamless.

3. “ The message has to come from the top.”

Harnick said it’s absolutely essential to have company leaders visibly and actively supporting corporate giving programs. At Microsoft, she said CEO Satya Nadella personally encourages employees to participate and other executives are involved in leading the program.

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