I'm often proud of the work Microsoft does; I think the software we make and the impact we've had are great. However, the thing that really makes me proudest is the charity of the company and the employees. Our employees donate more per employee than any other company, and the generous matching program we have makes those dollars go even farther. (And don't get me started about how cool the Gates Foundation is.)
Now, the Windows Live Messenger team has kicked off the i'm initiative, a program where Microsoft will donate a portion of the Live Messenger advertising revenue to a cause you select. You can choose from the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, National AIDS Fund, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, ninemillion.org, Sierra Club, stopglobalwarming.org, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Unicef.
There's no cost to the participants, and Microsoft guarantees at least $100K to each cause with no cap. The only real bummer (aside from having to pick between these causes) is that the program is only available in the US right now.
I know the cynics will say we're just doing this to drive Messenger usage and for PR. I'm sure that's part of it, but there's real money going to really good causes here vs. just buying an ad somewhere.
So, check it out and send some IMs.
(In case you're wondering, I chose stopglobalwarming.org. It was a tough call, but at the end of the day, I really think global warming will be the biggest crisis the world faces with the hardest solutions. We need to start now.)