This week we're talking about philanthropy in the Channel and our focus is on CompTIA. They're no stranger to giving back and in fact, built altruism into their organizational structure, something they call ECAP: Education, Certification, Advocacy and Philanthropy. ECAP encapsulates the vision of CEO and President Todd Thibodeaux and the values of the organization as a whole.
The four pillars of ECAP represent the resources and services CompTIA provides in order to grow the IT industry worldwide. As Nancy Hammervik, Senior Vice President of Industry Relations at CompTIA, explains, “philanthropy has always been a big part of what [CompTIA] does - helping underserved and underrepresented groups gain IT employment.”
CompTIA strives to fill the void by partnering with charities that help folks consider, pursue, and grow with careers in IT. With 49 percent of CIOs expecting to experience IT skills shortages in the next 12 months, they have their work cut out for them.
Under the umbrella of CompTIA, successes within corporate, foundation, and community initiatives have been realized. Each project aligns with CompTIA’s overall philanthropic and IT-specific mission and until recently CompTIA’s philanthropic accomplishments have been on “a macro level.”
Taking a New Approach to Philanthropy in the Channel
In 2016, they decided to take things a step further. “We wanted to personalize and localize – drill down with grass roots efforts,” Nancy says. Enter the Channel Chief Giving Circle (CCGC), their newest initiative focuses on philanthropy in the channel and offers Channel Chiefs across the industry the opportunity to benefit the charity of their choice. Once the charity is selected, CompTIA makes a $1000 donation on behalf of the executive. To date, about 50 Channel Chiefs have enrolled.
The program offers a chance to get involved in the community on their terms. “The Giving Circle allows us to put a charitable spin on our channel leadership,” says Meredith Caram, Executive Director of AT&T Partner Solutions and CCGC participant. “It’s a great way to elevate the impact we have as leaders, extending our ability to create positive change from the channel to our communities.”
At SYNNEX, the decision for Mary Ellen Grom and fellow Channel Chief Bob Stegner to join was simple. “When you’re given the opportunity to invest in your local charity of choice through the support of a global organization like CompTIA, it’s a no-brainer.”
Honing an Altruistic Culture
The CCGC is unique in that the chosen charity does not have to be an IT organization, but can instead indirectly help people break into the industry—or even benefit those already working in the space. Like CompTIA, “[SYNNEX] has a very philanthropic culture,” Mary Ellen tells us, which is reflected in Bob’s charity of choice, SYNNEX Share the Magic, a philanthropic initiative started by Peter Laroque, SYNNEX’s President of Northern American Technology Solutions. The organization provides funds to four local charities directly impacting children in Greenville, SC. Since its founding in 2011, they’ve raised more than $5.1 million for charities helping children who are sick, abused, or neglected.
A desire to benefit children played a role in Mary Ellen’s selection as well. She went with IT-ology, an organization dedicated to growing the IT pipeline, fostering economic development, and advancing the IT profession. For Mary Ellen, the choice was personal. “My children have participated in their weekend workshops to better understand STEM careers,” she says. “The workshops give children ideas of real world applications and they’re free so, it makes me feel good to give back to a charity that has invested in the future of my children.”
Finding the Silver Lining in Community
Rob Rae, Vice President of Business Development at Datto, understands taking a personal approach. Datto is a fast growing organization with a fairly young team. In these times of growth, Rob says they’re now experiencing many of the ups and downs larger companies do. Unfortunately, one of these downs was the unexpected illness of a much-loved employee. In 2013, a woman on Datto’s support team was diagnosed with ALS.
Before her diagnosis, Rob says he didn’t know much about the progressive disease but as he’s come to learn about the struggles she faces daily, he’s been amazed at the speed of medical advancements with ALS. When he was approached to join the Channel Chief Giving Circle, Rob jumped at the chance to support his team member and used the $1000 donation to contribute to her husband’s fundraising page.
Despite the heartache of the situation, the CCGC experience yielded positive results for Rob and his team. To Rob, the most surprising and rewarding part has been the support from the IT community. “Individuals heard this story throughout the Channel – not just within Datto – and gave donations. It’s cool from that perspective – [giving] can really go viral.”
To learn more about philanthropy in the channel, how you can get involved in CompTIA’s philanthropic mission, and the Channel Chief Giving Circle, visit CreatingITFutures.Org.