Tech Heavyweights Raise Millions For Tsunami Relief

As the earthquake and tsunami death toll climbs, the technology industry stepped up its donations and its efforts to help individuals pledge money to victim relief organizations.

Gregg Keizer, Contributor

December 30, 2004

3 Min Read

As the death toll for Sunday's earthquake and tsunami topped 114,000 Thursday, the technology industry stepped up its donations and its efforts to help individuals pledge money to victim relief organizations.

The devastation, which began with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake in the seabed off the Indonesian coast, was mostly caused by the resulting tsunami that inundated shorelines in east Africa, India, Sir Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia, and other countries in the Indian Ocean basin. Thousands are still missing, and millions are homeless and without basic necessities, such as food and clean drinking water.

Among the technology companies that have pitched in with major contributions are Cisco, Computer Associates, and Symbol Technologies.

Networking giant, Cisco, for instance, has pledged a total of $2.5 million for humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts. The total includes $1 million contributed by the company, a minimum of another $1 million from the San Jose, Calif.-based company's non-profit foundation to match employee donations, and $460,000 donated so far by employees.

"We are a global company with a strong presence in Asia, and we see it as our responsibility to help the local communities where we have employees, customers, and partners rebuild after this tragedy," said John Chambers, the company's president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

Cisco will also provide communications equipment to the stricken areas where the normal infrastructure is destroyed so that relief organizations can communicate from the disaster zones.

Computer Associates has donated $200,000 directly to UNICEF's (United Nations Children's Fund) relief efforts, but will also match two-for-one any money given by employees to international aid organizations.

Symbol Technologies contributed to UNICEF too, but also targeted the American Red Cross and the Mercy Corps, a United States- and Scotland-based consortium of humanitarian relief groups, with its $150,000 donation.

Although Microsoft itself hasn't announced a corporate donation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, funded by company chairman Bill Gates and managed by his wife Melinda, has pledged $3.5 million to relief work in the tsunami-stricken area.

Other names in the technology field are jumping into relief efforts, typically by making it easier for individuals to contribute. Mega-retailer, for instance, said it had collected over $5 million as of midday Thursday for the American Red Cross via a link on its front page.

Similar links have been posted on the home pages of other major Web sites, including eBay, Yahoo, and MSN. Yahoo's front page, for instance, includes links to the online donation sites for Oxfam, UNICEF, AmeriCares, and Network for Good.

Even the Spartan interface of Google -- which relies on just a few links and a single logo -- sports a relief addition. The "Ways to help with tsunami relief" link takes users to a page that lists 13 relief organizations' donation pages.

One firm, AuctionDrop, took a different tack. The San Carlos, Calif.-based company, which accepts goods from consumers and posts them on eBay for selling, taking a commission on the sale, said it would donate 100 percent of the proceeds of sales of donated used and new cameras, computers, or consumer electronics to CARE's relief efforts. AuctionDrop operates from the 3,500 UPS Stores nationwide, where people can drop off their donated items.

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