What can a passionate employee do with $3,000? The short answer is: more than you can ever imagine.
In 2012, I wrote about an experiment at LinkedIn I started called Employee Transformation Grants. At LinkedIn, we constantly talk about transformation of yourself, the company and the world. As a business leader, I wanted to create a program that didn’t focus on bringing dollars in, but rather on what dollars could do for the development of our employees, our company culture and the impact we have on the world. LinkedIn employees are passionate and resourceful, and I knew that with a little money and a platform for change, they would take the reigns and produce amazing results.
Since then, we’ve awarded 37 grants and we’ve had three years to see these transformational ideas come to life. The stories of impact are astonishing.
After two young children begged him for food from the window of a taxi, Michael Bennette was inspired to engage his colleagues in addressing the hunger crisis.
After her good friend Fred was killed on 9/11, Rachelle Diamond launched a 5k run to raise funds in Fred’s honor. With the grant she went from 80 runners in 2011 to 1,000 friends and colleagues running across the globe in 2013.
When their reliance on sporadic donations was threatening the livelihood of children living in an orphanage in the slums of Arusha, Tanzania, our very own Anna Wright stepped in with a creative solution.
Plan Ireland asked Jeff Matthews and LinkedIn’s European sales team to donate $10,000, and in response they took a big risk and generated an even greater contribution.
Akhilesh Gupta, shocked by the terror faced by a certain girl in Delhi, India, used his grant to build an emergency alert app for iPhone and Android, so anyone can easily and quickly reach out to their friends if they feel threatened.
Kate Swanson hosted a “by students, for students” day-long retreat for forty teens to learn about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving.
Surprised by the opportunity, Laura Fox was able to give much needed assistance to a community development project started by old friends in Ruarwe, Malawi. She even got to visit and volunteer herself.
What is most inspiring to me about these stories is how little we did to make this happen. Sure, we started a program that perhaps brings these ideas top of mind, and we give the best ideas $3,000 to get them started. But really, these are stories of individuals who identified gaps in the world they couldn’t let go of, who have gone above and beyond their job description to make an impact, and who as a result have helped transform our culture, our company and our world.