If You Work at Google or Apple, I Need You To Read This Post About Charity & “FlashMobs for Good.”

There are 43 days left in 2017. That’s not many for any of us, but it’s an especially important countdown if you work at Google, Apple or any other tech company which has an employer match program for charitable donations. Have you maxed out your match yet? Please consider doing so and let me give you an idea for a fun way involving your team and colleagues.

During my last few years at YouTube we were able to raise tens of thousands of dollars in just a few hours by creating FlashMobs for Good where we turned charitable giving into a critical mass event. Here’s what we did and I’m hoping some of you will try this at your company:

  1. Pick a period of time (24 – 48 hours work best) and declare it a “FlashMob for Good” during which you’ll track the combined donations going from your company to a specific charity.
  2. Any charity works but I found it most successful to select one that’s (a) universally beloved, (b) is approved in your company’s match criteria and (c) has a giving model where donations of different levels are matched specifically against projects or outcomes (such as backing projects on DonorsChoose or buying specific items on Heifer International). (c) makes it especially fun because you can see the combined impact of your work in more than just a sum of money but instead a set of discrete accomplishments – eg “10 chickens, 5 cows and a portable generator.”
  3. Set up an online spreadsheet where each employee can enter their own donation contributions (or enter them as “anonymous” if they desire). Send an email with this info and the details for #4 below to the entire company.
  4. During the 24-48 hour FlashMob period, select a specific 60 minute slot where you reserve a large conference room. Tell employees they can give any time during the 24-48 hour window to participate but that you’re holding a LIVE MOB during that time. They should bring their laptops. Project the donations spreadsheet on the screen. As employees give online during the LIVE MOB, have them enter their donations on to the sheet and ring an online bell every time they complete a donation. Watching the number go up and hearing the bells creates an energetic giving environment. If you’re giving to something like DonorsChoose, it’s especially rewarding to all descend on a single project and complete it for the teacher – ie 10 of you make a $900 project complete.
  5. After the FlashMob period is over, remind everyone to enter their donations for corporate match. And send around a closing email with the matched total.

A large amount of corporate match goes unused because employees forget to give or forget to file for the match. While each person’s situation is different, as tech as an industry becomes wealthier it’s great to see charity become a larger and visible part of our values.

Hope this helps. If you have any questions or suggestions, let me know via Twitter. And if you’re reading this, please try to help me spread the concept.