Paying for 14,000 meals sure does feel good

Back before we were profitable as a company, we made a promise:

20% of all future profits of our shows will be given back.  10% will be given back to the community which the conference serves and 10% will go towards making the world a better place.

It’s easy to pledge money when you don’t have it.  It’s quite another thing to follow through when you do.  Money has all sorts of effects on people and sadly most of the effects are not good.  We think that a lot of these issues would be solved if some of the profits were given back. It’s hard to be greedy and all about money, when you give back and see the fruits of the generosity.

At our most recent 360|Flex event in San Jose last month, this was the breakdown:

Community 10% –  We gave over $9,000 in tickets to Flex User Groups.  In addition, we’re buying a PlayStation 3 as the prize for the OpenFlux competition.  That’s more than 10%, but who’s counting. :)

World 10% – We gave $7,000 to Second Harvest Food Bank and $1,000 in prizes to those that helped with the Charity Flex Code Jam.  The code jam built a “hot meal locator” application (search for zip code: 95117) for Second Harvest.  Ali Daniali led the effort, we provided the hotel room and conference space.

Second Harvest wrote this in regards to our donations:

Another huge thank you for the most generous gift you presented us with today.  Your gift of $7,000 will help us buy enough food to provide at least 14,000 meals for low income people in need.  That’s a lot of hunger relief!

Your gift will change lives this month and into the fall.  Again, thank you for your partnership.

And thank you for all of the programming and developer hours that went into creating the application for our call center to become available after-hours. That is something we have been dreaming about for years. Many of our food recipients work during the day and can’t easily, or discreetly, call the Food Connection hotline to ask for food assistance between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  Now there is a solution.

I would love to talk with you more about your company’s philosophy of giving back – I welcome the opportunity to learn about excellent ideas, as it ads to my arsenal of thoughts to share with other like-minded companies.

To be able to provide that was truly an honor for John and myself. We were both surprised by just how good it felt to give back.  To be honest, it felt way better than becoming “profitable” as a company.

We share this info, not to pat ourselves on the back.  Let’s not kid ourselves here, $7K is but a tiny drop in a global sized bucket of needed relief.  We do it instead for two reasons.

First, we want to challenge you and your business to do the same.  You can match our $7K donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank (email if you do).  More importantly though, we’d challenge you to match the ‘10% back to make the world better’ pledge.  You may have your reasons on why that isn’t possible, but to be honest we don’t want to hear ’em.  It’s a challenge because challenges are hard, not easy.  If it was easy, there wouldn’t be much of a challenge now would there?

Second, if you came to 360|Flex, this donation is every bit because of you.  Much like how John and I are merely the messengers for 360|Flex, we’re just the messengers here as well.  The $7K was a portion of all the funds you gave to us, funds that you entrusted us to do the right thing with: Put on a good show and make good on our promises.

Hopefully, as time goes on, we’ll be able to increase our contributions.  John and I will likely not change the world all by ourselves, but every little bit helps.  Plus, if we can inspire others to do the same, we get that much closer.

2 Replies to “Paying for 14,000 meals sure does feel good”

  1. This reminds me of why I got an XO laptop as a part of the “give one, get one” charity. The idea is that I paid for an inexpensive laptop to be sent to a child in a 3rd world nation. I did it in part because I figured that with better information and communication, villages with specific needs will be able to find villages with specific surpluses. Seeding impoverished villages with laptops is a part of this solution.

    The one thing that seems to be missing from this effort is the software infrastructure to enable this to be a turnkey solution. When you give lots of laptops to a village that’s never seen a computer before, you gotta provide a turnkey solution.

    This is where I ponder about the synergistic opportunities between Adobe Openscreen, charity codejam, and the XO distribution plan. What if these XO’s ran a Flash 9 player? What if there was a specialized application on the XO that solves specific information and communications problems common to these 3rd world villages? What if there were an ongoing googlecode project that allows Flex developers to volunteer Flex code that can be used in the turnkey solution to help villages in a 3rd world country find ingredients for hot meals?

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