Workers give online

By Todd Cohen

Two big Silicon Valley tech firms have turned to the Web to boost charitable activity by employees.

Using The Giving Station, a Web-based system produced by CreateHope in Bethesda, Md., Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems are offering workers the ability to make donations online.

The Sept. 11 attacks changed the way both companies handle online employee giving.

In the month after the attacks, 7,000 Hewlett-Packard employees gave $1 million to support relief efforts, while several thousand Cisco employees gave $500,000, 85 percent of it online,

Hewlett-Packard, based in Palo Alto, Calif., contributed $2 million, and matched its employees’ gifts with another $1 million.

Cisco, based in nearby San Jose, matched its employees’ gifts dollar for dollar, and contributed another $6 million.

In the wake of the attacks, CreateHope sped up installation of its system for Hewlett-Packard, which had been processing contributions manually and already was planning to use The Giving Station.

“We had no system, to support disaster-relief of this magnitude,” says Mark Anderson, HP’s philanthropy services manager. “They put it together in 72 hours.”

The company plans to use The Giving Station for its annual campaign and to post volunteer opportunities and track volunteer activity for its 45,000 U.S. employees.

Facing growing demand from its 37,000 employees for online giving options through payroll deduction, Cisco also had turned to CreateHope, which was scheduled to install its product last November in time for the company’s annual hunger-relief drive.

To handle Sept. 11 contributions, however, Cisco used its previous system — and found it needed a stronger and more flexible system for online giving by employees.

The company also plans to use the new system to post volunteer opportunities and handle its hunger-relief drive, which last year raised $2.2 million from employees, the company and its foundation and chairman.

Employees contributed $750,000, most of it online.

Cisco hopes technology will change the way employees give, says Maideh Radpour, director of corporate philanthropy.

“Our goal,” she says, “is that it becomes more a part about how they think about giving and that it becomes their tool for giving.”

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