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Socially-Conscious Businesses and Nonprofits Find Common Ground at 12NTC

Tomorrow I’m heading to the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in San Francisco with several colleagues from Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team.

You may be wondering, “What does a global corporation have to do with nonprofits?” I worked in the nonprofit field for ten years before I joined Cisco, so I can answer: Everything.

We are still in a down economy. Individual donors are able to give less, and governments have been forced to cut social programs. Businesses, especially technology ones, are often innovative, entrepreneurial, and run by people who think giving back to society is important.

For organizations struggling to solve the world’s biggest problems today, corporate involvement is essential.

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A Birthday Wish Can Change Everything for People Without Clean Water to Drink

“Roughly one-sixth of the world’s population, or 1.1 billion people, don’t have access to safe drinking water.”

“Eighty percent of diseases in the developing world are caused by contaminated water.”

“People in the developing world walk an average of 3.7 miles (6 km) a day to collect water for basic needs.”

These are just a few of the shocking statistics I discovered in the past week on Twitter, leading up to World Water Day–today, March 22.

But, I also discovered that by making a birthday wish, I could personally help solve this massive problem.

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Bringing Worlds Together Over Cisco TelePresence

UPDATE: Molly’s story was on CNN today (3/8/12). Take a look!

Today Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team had the unique privilege of bringing together two seemingly different groups of people: children who live in a slum in Nairobi, Kenya and their “video pen pals” in Rome. Cisco hosted the event using its TelePresence technology to support the World Food Programme’s video series “Molly’s World: A Girl Films Her Life in a Nairobi Slum.” (Learn more about the Molly’s World video series in my previous blog post.)

We multiplied the impact of this event by broadcasting it live to a worldwide audience via CiscoTV’s Ustream channel on the World Food Programme’s Facebook page. Children in classrooms from London to Brazil to Australia submitted questions through Facebook and Twitter, and Molly and her friends answered them live via Ustream. Read More »

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Community Math: Multiplying Employee Power to Fight Global Hunger

Cisco’s 63,000 employees live and work in hundreds of cities globally. No matter where we are, we’re committed to using our expertise and conducting our business in a way that ultimately benefits our communities. That’s core to our culture. Our 2011 Global Hunger Relief Campaign, which just closed, raised a record $4.1 million. It’s a vital example of the power that arises when employees take action and leverage networks – both human and technology – to multiply our impact.

Over two months, our employees donated $1.6 million to more than 130 food agencies through Cisco’s unique global matching gifts IT solution, Community Connection. That tool allowed us to quickly aggregate and approve donations, and disburse matching funds from the Cisco Foundation and Chairman Emeritus John Morgridge’s TOSA Foundation, bringing the total delivered to $4.1 million. Employees also volunteered thousands of hours to food agencies, recording that time in the tool to deliver additional matching funds.

For 15 years, Cisco has united with food agencies to help serve hungry people. Our employees give significant time and expertise, along with corporate product donations, to multiply the impact of each dollar donated. So, although our campaign delivers critical support, it’s only part of a multi-layered community strategy that ensures nonprofits maximize efficiency and scalability by using networking technologies. That’s why, in part, agencies are providing 28 million meals with Cisco’s 2011 campaign proceeds.

When our network of employees connects to a common purpose, impact multiplies. We all can access a network – online or through friends, families and villages – to make extraordinary change. Learn more about Cisco’s work in communities around the world at our new CSR website, launched today.

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Stop the CSR Pity-Fest, Tell the Whole Story

I met Daniel last month in Mexico City.  He is an outpatient at a drug rehabilitation center where we sponsor a Cisco Networking Academy.  Daniel and I met at the center, and then went together to his home in one of the poorest parts of Mexico City.  As we stood on the porch overlooking his neighborhood, Daniel told me that his family doesn’t believe he can make his way out of this life, can ever do something more.  The odds are certainly low; making a different life for himself, a life he’s never seen modeled, would be a dream come true but also a miracle. Read More »

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