Following a post of mine from two weeks ago, From Cell Phones To Shoes:How Your Business Can Help Haiti, I received a twitter message from Jeffrey Montgomery, the Managing Partner of Omatic Software, asking" Does This Count?", and linking me to their site: "Free Help for Haiti Relief Organizations." On their web page they humbly describe their contribution to relief for this disaster by donating their Import-o-matic software solutions for free, to organizations that are providing aid to Haiti.
I wondered whether becoming involved in aiding a disaster inspires people (and more specifically businesses) to continue to be philanthropic in other ways? So, I sought some more information from Jeff about whether his company has had any philanthropic activity prior to the disaster and how becoming involved in such an effort would affect the company's culture of caring in the future.
Here is the dialogue that ensued.
Have you had any other philanthropic activities or programs other than what you are doing for Haiti?
Beyond individual employee giving, this was our first foray into organized business philanthropy. The tragedy in Haiti shocked us out of our complacency, but the answer to "what can we do?" wasn't immediately clear.
Who was the driving force behind this specific campaign and what were the motivating factors?
When Partners In Health came to us because they were overwhelmed with data processing for gifts, the light bulb went on: "Hey, this is what we do and what we're really good at, and we can use that to help the people who are doing the real work on the ground in Haiti."
How did you get the employees, partners, etc to become interested and involved?
Getting employees involved was no problem, everyone wanted to do something.
Most importantly, do you feel that now that you have become involved in a philanthropic effort, is your company likely to be doing more in the future for other causes locally or globally?
Yes, I can definitely see our organization being more involved in philanthropy after this experience. First of all because we've enjoyed doing it, but also I think that when someone realizes that they can make a difference they are more inclined to do so in the future, and the same can be said for an organization as well.
"It's not glamorous", "It's not heroic" they say on their webpage. But it is inspiring. And the key points to learn from their story are:
Even in philanthropy- do what you do best
Follow the inspiration-"the light bulb"
Enjoy what you are doing
Ask the question: What can we do? If it is not immediately obvious, keep looking for opportunities, they will come to you.
I am curious to know what others think? Does responding to a disaster like Haiti lead to more philanthropy in the future? Would love to hear from other businesses.