This is embarrassing to admit. While the Seattle area is first in the nation in percentage of residents who give to charities — over 65 percent donate more than $25 annually — the tech segment remains an elusive donor group within the region.
Non-profit development officers — faced with a divided city of extreme wealth and extreme poverty — routinely ask: “How do we crack the code? How do we get the average tech worker to give?”
And this is why GeekWire — in partnership with Bank of America — launched our Geeks Give Back effort three years ago. We wanted to encourage everyone in the tech industry — from the software developer to the CEO — to think deeply about helping those in need. This year, we are tackling the thorny issues of homelessness and poverty, and we ask you to go here to donate to Geeks Give Back.
Alleviating homelessness, poverty and a lack of access to education in King County are issues we can all agree on. And I believe — subtracting the highest levels of philanthropy from the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates; Connie and Steve Ballmer; and more recently Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos — the tech industry is not pulling adequate weight compared to other industries. As innovators and creators, we should be punching well above our weight.
We need to do more.
A well-researched analysis on homelessness from McKinsey indicated that much of poverty exists because of wealth creation.
Don’t get me wrong. I love tech, but the facts are clear. The robust influx of tech workers to the Seattle region — with great benefits to the overall economy, intellectual capital and culture — has contributed to housing affordability problems. With every $100 increase in average rent, homelessness rises by 15 percent. Cause and effect. No judgment here. It just is.
While the rising tide has lifted many boats, some people don’t even have boats.
So what’s the answer?
Here’s my simple ask: How about giving a little?
There are so many things we say “no” to each day, but we need to tackle these societal problems head-on. And we can’t just keep pushing them under the rug. And so I challenge you to say “yes.” That’s not always an easy path, given the constraints on time, budgets and a wide array of noteworthy organizations.
The Geeks Give Back program — which has raised more than $2 million over the past three years — offers an easy path to do some good, supporting organizations such as Mary’s Place, Mercy Housing, DESC, Plymouth Housing Group and Housing Development Consortium.
And it’s time for our community to step up and do more.
If you are still on the fence, let me offer this. Giving back provides multiple dividends — you feel more connected to your community; you shift perspectives; you pay more attention to issues that matter; and you join an effort to be part of the solution. I’ve personally seen these benefits as campaign chair for the United Way of King County.
As author Sue Monk Kidd notes: “Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it’s accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity to identify, to plunge ourselves in a story where we see the world from the bottom up or through another’s eyes or heart.”
So, c’mon geeks. On this day of giving and thanks, take the plunge with us. Please, consider GIVING BACK!