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

April 2, 2012 - 0 Comments

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.

More and more nonprofits are building relationships with companies that don’t just provide financial and product support, but help them market their services, increase awareness, and attract supporters to their cause.

Take, for example, the partnership between the blockbuster Hunger Games movie and two nonprofits–World Food Programme (WFP) and Feeding America–to inform people that hunger is a pervasive but solvable problem.

More than 130,000 people–most likely young people who didn’t have “end world hunger” on their to-do lists–have viewed an educational video featuring the film’s stars. From there, they could take a quiz to learn surprising facts about world hunger and/or donate $5 to WFP and Feeding America via text message.

At Cisco, we look for ways to support nonprofits with our expertise in networking technology. In fact, we have awarded nearly US$1.5 million to Feeding America to help the organization consolidate and streamline its technology systems so its network of 200 food banks can save money and feed more hungry people. You can learn about one of these initiatives in the following video:

And, by contributing 2,500 high-definition digital video cameras and use of our TelePresence video conferencing solution, we helped WFP raise awareness of and donations for its school lunch program through the Molly’s World video series.

We are going to the Nonprofit Technology Conference this week to look for more opportunities like these. We want to meet nonprofit leaders who share our vision of using technology to improve lives and build thriving communities–who believe, as we do, that combining technology networks with human networks of compassionate and committed people can change the world.

If you are attending the Nonprofit Technology Conference, please visit Cisco CSR at booth #26 at the Science Fair between 3 and 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3.

If you’re not attending, please follow us on Twitter (we’ll live tweet from the NTC with the hashtag #12NTC), and read more about our social investments at

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