Microsoft Employees Raise $1 Billion For Charity In 30 Years Of Employee Giving Campaign

In this photo taken Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, Bill Gates smiles while being interviewed in Kirkland, Wash. Gates has a terse
In this photo taken Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012, Bill Gates smiles while being interviewed in Kirkland, Wash. Gates has a terse response to criticism that the high-tech solutions he advocates for would hunger are too expensive or bad for the environment: Countries can embrace modern seed technology and genetic modification or their citizens will starve. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

In the three decades since Microsoft launched a program encouraging employees to give to charity, the software company’s workers have raised $1 billion.

Back in 1983, Microsoft started its Employee Giving Campaign, an initiative that donates $17 for every hour an employee volunteers and also matches every employee contribution to charity, dollar-for-dollar.

The company says 65 percent of employees have gotten involved, accounting for more than 35,000 participants, and Microsoft announced Thursday that the program has generated $1 billion for 31,000 nonprofits and community organizations around the world.

“The company and its employees have much to be proud of at this remarkable milestone and, I know, will continue to make a positive impact in the years ahead,” Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said in a release.

To celebrate, Microsoft announced a $25,000 grant to the top four organizations that have received the most funding from Microsoft employees: United Way of King County, World Vision International, Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation and the American National Red Cross.

But Gates isn’t just working on getting those toiling away at Microsoft to part with their money for worthy causes. As the richest person in the United States, he is continuing to urge other billionaires to donate significant chunks of their fortunes, too.

The Giving Pledge, launched two years ago by Warren Buffett and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, asks billionaires to pledge half of their wealth. The campaign (which includes the likes of Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg) recruited 11 new billionaires just last month, bringing the total number of members to 92.

“This new group brings extensive business and philanthropic experience that will enrich the conversation about how to make philanthropy as impactful as possible,” Gates said in a statemement when the new members joined in September. “Their thoughtfulness and deep commitment to philanthropy are an inspiration to me, and I’m sure to many others as well."

Click through the slideshow below to see which other billionaires have pledged to give half of their fortunes away.