Amid the upcoming release of Microsoft's new Surface tablet and Windows 8 software, the company celebrated another important milestone Thursday—the company's 30th employee giving campaign.
Chairman and founder Bill Gates joined CEO Steve Ballmer on the Redmond campus Thursday afternoon to thank employees and nonprofit partners for their role in the program. Ballmer also announced the giving campaign has now provided $1 billion through employee donations and corporate matches to 31,000 nonprofits and community organizations around the world.
"Citizenship has been part of our DNA now for a long, long time," he said.
The program, which began in 1983, matches employees volunteer time and financial donations up to $12,000 per employee. More than 35,000 employees—or 65 percent of the company's workforce—currently participate in the giving campaign, according to Microsoft.
Ballmer announced the company would be making a $25,000 grant to the four organizations that have received the most donations from Microsoft employees during the life of the giving campaign—United Way of King County, World Vision International, Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation and the American National Red Cross.
Gov. Christine Gregoire also took the stage to thank the company for its generosity toward local nonprofits, saying Microsoft's reputation of generosity reflects well on the state. The employee giving program has accounted for more than $520 million in donations to Washington organizations since its inception, Gregoire said.
The governor also shared a story from a recent visit to India. On the trip, she met a 1-year-old girl who was blind but gained eyesight after a corneal transplant that was made possible through Microsoft giving.
"It was one of the most heartwarming experiences of my life," Gregoire said. "Believe me, (the program) matters; it matters to real people."
Quarterly earnings fall short of analysts' projections
The news about Microsoft's employee giving campaign preceded a company announcement that its first-quarter earnings fell short of Wall Street predictions.
Microsoft reported its quarterly revenue was $16.01 billion, down from $17.37 billion in the first quarter of the last fiscal year. Click here to read a Seattle Times story about the first-quarter earnings announcement.