We have long argued that companies that show some form of genuine social concern and investment will be more attractive to today’s talented young people – both as customers and staff. For many years, top end professionals (especially lawyers and consultants) have had a reputation of doing a certain amount of pro bono work. Now, it seems, that this kind of thinking extends widely, even into the world of computer programmers.
Charles Best is the founder of a non-profit website, DonorsChoose.org. The concept is easy – connect teachers in need of supplies with willing donors. But Charles recently had a request of his own. He contacted Yahoo and asked if they would donate the time of some of their top website developers to help him upgrade his website. He was bold – he asked for 6 of their most talented programmers to help him for three months at a time each.
Yahoo co-founder, David Filo, immediately signed on himself, and made the services of some key programmers available to Charles. In a press release, Yahoo indicated that it wasn’t just philanthropy that drove this decision – it was also about gaining a competitive advantage in the talent wars (they’re duking it out with the likes of Google, Microsoft and many others). Yahoo’s “community relations director”, Meg Garlinghouse (herself a Peace Corp veteran) believes this type of work will help entice the top talent in programmers.
I think they’re onto something. I really do.

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