The rest

Let's contribute!

The drive to give something back to society–or to contribute–is not an isolated trend. There are countless examples out there of people contributing some of their time and resources to causes they believe in. Especially in a wealthy society like the Finnish one, and especially for people working in privileged fields like IT, it’s not uncommon to find people who just want to give something back, one way or another.

I was once more a witness of this growing trend last weekend, when a group of 20-or-so very inspiring individuals got together at Hub Helsinki and spent 48 hours coming up with new concepts on sustainability. It was the Global Sustainability Jam, and the group in Helsinki was one of the 42 groups taking part in the event all around the world.

As one of the organizers of the Helsinki event I wanted to see if there was anything Futurice, my company, could do to help us out. Some food and drinks never hurt in an event like this, and that was something easy to ask for. More importantly, though, I’m interested in finding a model in which companies can get involved in these events and do their share of contribution, and at the same time make it easier for people to contribute without compromising their work-life balance. So, some of my company time was another thing I wanted to ask for.

Knowing how careful we here at Futurice need to be with our budgets, I wasn’t expecting anything to be just handed out, so I prepared a good list of arguments of how a sponsorship might benefit our company. I made sure I put everything in terms of Futurice benefitting, and not in terms of pro bono contribution.

But to my surprise, I had jumped to conclusions way too fast. After a series of discussions about the project and our potential involvement, I was finally told: “Oh, now I understand. This is about contributing to a cause, not about marketing. Well, why didn’t you say so? Just take what you need as long as it’s reasonable”

As it turns out, contribution is a possibility with companies as well. Maybe it’s not always that visible, and maybe it’s not a value shared by everyone in a company, but it’s certainly possible!

So here is what I learned from this and wanted to share with all those “contribution enthusiasts” out there, be them in Futurice or any other company:

  1. Ask and you shall receive. Don’t just assume that your company only cares about profits and whatever other business objectives. Just take initiative, and you might be surprised of the outcome.
  2. There are many like you out there. Don’t think you’re the only one who wants to contribute in your company. You’ll be surprised at how many others might have similar motivations, even people in very high positions.
  3. Let’s not keep this as a secret, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I can only imagine the impact we could have if contribution was a bit more out in the open…

So, let's contribute more together and see you at the next jam!