Microsoft just wrapped up its yearly Employee Giving Campaign, the latest installment in a philanthropic initiative that has raised more than $1 billion for charity over the past three decades. But what’s really impressive, and fun, is the creativity shown by the company’s employees in the silent auction that’s one of the pillars of the annual campaign.
We were able to our hands on some of the inside details, including the amount of the winning bids for a variety of items. Here’s a sampling the items up for bid this year, including the official descriptions.
Running the scoreboard at a Seattle Mariners baseball game: The winner of this item will run the manual scoreboard at an upcoming Seattle Mariners game, to be scheduled for a mutually agreed upon date during the 2014 season. This auction item also includes four box tickets to the game so the winner can bring three guests to enjoy the game in style. Winning Bid: $1,650.
Guaranteed entry in the 2014 NYC Marathon, a training program, and breakfast with Anthony Edwards (Goose from “Top Gun”) The winner of this item will receive guaranteed entry to the 2014 NYC Marathon, along with a customized training program from world-renowned marathon runner Toby Tanser, one of the race directors and founder of Shoe4Africa, a nonprofit dedicated to empowerment in Africa through sports and education. The winner will also have breakfast with Anthony Edwards, also known as Goose from “Top Gun” and a proud Shoe4Africa team member. Winning Bid: $1,600.
A look-alike avatar in Project Spark. One lucky employee will be drawn by one of the Project Spark video game concept artists and receive a one-of-a-kind signed print. But wait…the Project Spark team will also animate the winner into one of the customizable in-game heads! This is perfect for someone who has always wanted to live inside a video game. Winning Bid: $1,056
Breakfast at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo with the twin sloth bear cubs: The winner and three friends will enjoy breakfast and an early morning zookeeper talk at the sloth bear exhibit, while watching sloth bear mom Tasha and her two twin cubs play around. After that, the winner will spend the day at the zoo on a guided tour provided by Microsoft Research Manager and Zoo volunteer Kevin Schofield. The twins sloth bear cubs were born in January and have not yet been named by the zoo staff. Winning Bid: $616
A stretch of Microsoft Way renamed after the highest bidder: In 2012, Microsoft employee Damit Senanayake bid $1,573 to have Microsoft Way at NE 36th Way named after himself. Senanayake Way will be renamed after this year’s winner starting in 2014. Winning Bid: $1,550, to rename the stretch of road Anupam Way in 2014.
Personal shuttle service for all of 2014: When it comes to the Microsoft Shuttle, most employees notify the building receptionist that they need a ride, wait for a few minutes, and then share a shuttle with other Microsoft employees. With the Personal Shuttle Service auction item, the highest bidder wins a year-long opportunity to book the shuttle ahead of time and have it waiting for them when they need it. They can use the shuttle to travel between any Microsoft office buildings, including those in Redmond and Bellevue. For employees who aren’t located on main campus or spend a lot of time traveling between buildings for meetings, this will save them a lot of time. Winning Bid: $2,505
Swedish meatballs at IKEA with two actual Swedes: Two actual Swedes will pick you up on Main Campus and drive down to IKEA in Renton. During the trip, we will give you a short introduction of the country’s history and the accomplishments of Swedish people, culminating with the founding of IKEA. At IKEA, the winner will receive lunch (15 meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberries, a side salad and a drink). During lunch, we will introduce you to the concept of Swedish irony, which is the main type of humor used by Swedes. After lunch, we will walk around the store and let you know how to really pronounce the names of various products and the true meaning of the product names. “Or will we?” (irony). Note: This offer is not at all sponsored by or linked to IKEA. Winning Bid: $180
All told, the silent auction raised 900,000 (including Microsoft’s company matching funds) for the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship and United Way of King County. That was up from $800,000 last year.
The auction was one part of the broader campaign, and the company overall increased the matching funds available to each employee to $15,000 from $12,000 in years past.