’Tis the season: How 11 Chicago tech companies give back during the holidays

by Alton Zenon III
December 19, 2018

For many, giving is a fundamental aspect of enjoying the holidays, and simple acts of kindness can go a long way in demonstrating that we care about others. Chicago tech companies understand this, and many take time during the holiday season to give back to the greater-Chicago community. We spoke to 11 companies about their holiday philanthropy efforts and what drives their benefaction.

 

Guaranteed Rate staff pictured at their food drive
image via guaranteed rate

Guaranteed Rate is a mortgage lender whose digital tools let prospective home buyers apply and be approved for mortgages in one fell swoop. CEO and founder Victor Ciardelli said their annual food drive helps people across the country. 

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

Guaranteed Rate gives back during the holidays through its annual food drive. This year, employees donated 132,493 pounds of non-perishable food items to food pantries nationwide, which equates to nearly 400,000 meals. Since inception five years ago, the Guaranteed Rate Food Drive has provided food for over 1 million meals nationwide. 

Our philosophy has always been to be as impactful as we possibly can.”

 

Why is it so important for your company to give back?

Since our founding, we’ve had a tradition of helping those in need in the communities we serve; giving back has been a part of our DNA since day one. Our philosophy has always been to be as impactful as we possibly can.

 

Relativity staff wrapping gifts
image via relativity

Relativity’s cloud-based software — used by governments, law firms and a variety of other businesses — sorts, analyzes and stores data pulled from legal documents. In addition to the company’s Relativity Gives program, which provides technology and professional development resources to local schools, Community Engagement Lead Colleen Costello said staff helped ensure that hundreds of children from a local school had their holiday gift wishes granted.

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

The holiday period gives us the chance to roll out our annual Holiday Letters campaign, which is always a huge hit with employees. This year, we were able to sponsor over 250 kids from Perez Elementary School who shared their wish lists with excited Relativians who got to put on their Santa hats and help these students have an awesome Christmas.

We were able to sponsor over 250 kids from Perez Elementary School.”

 

Why is it so important for your company to give back? 

We know that kids in Chicago are smart and determined. We’re committed to ensuring they have the technology resources they need and deserve to be successful in college and their careers.

 

Arity staff at a charity event
image via arity

Arity, a data and analytics tech company, founded by Allstate, works to increase overall road safety by providing big data-based solutions to its partners in the transportation industry. Product Manager Aileen Comer said volunteering during the holidays is a great way for staff to help the greater-Chicago community while strengthening their own in-office bonds.

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

Every year, we “adopt” families and children in need and fundraise as a team to purchase items on their wish lists. Last year, we supported 10 families through Lutheran Child & Family Services, and this year we’ve adopted 50 children through the Chicago Salvation Army Angel Tree program. It’s meaningful to give back to these people. Last year we raised $5,500, and we’re hoping to keep pushing that target and supporting more families as we grow.

I often hear back from teams that volunteering together is one of their favorite ways to get to know each other outside of work.”

 

Why is it so important for your company to give back? 

Working for a company that embraces and encourages everyone to give back makes you proud to be a part of the team and expands your personal and professional perspective. “We’re Here to Serve” is one of our leadership principles, but it also applies to our attitude about the community around us.

I often hear back from teams that volunteering together is one of their favorite ways to get to know each other outside of work, and that working with these groups opens their eyes to new people and causes in the community.

 

Vivid Seats staff holding blankets they made for children
image via vivid seats

Vivid Seats is an online marketplace where consumers can purchase sporting event, concert and theater tickets to let their fan flags fly. Head of UX Mark Petrowsky said the company has multiple philanthropy initiatives employees can engage in this time of year.

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

This year, Vivid Seats is excited to partner again with Lurie’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago to support the great work they do providing specialized care to children battling cancer, cardiac issues and other challenging illnesses. The Vivid Seats Giving Back Committee created several ways for employees to give back in support of Lurie’s this season, starting with a toy drive for the children who cannot leave the hospital.

We’re also hosting a “no-sew” blanket-making, where employees can make flannel blankets with cartoon characters and superheroes that we will hand-deliver to Lurie’s. Additionally, we’ve organized multiple opportunities for employees to spend time with Lurie’s patients and their families.

It’s important to support the communities where we live and work, and the holidays are a great time to give back.”

 

Why is it so important for the company to give back? 

Fundamentally, Vivid Seats believes it’s important to support the communities where we live and work, and the holidays are a great time to give back. We’re in the business of providing powerful experiences and making lasting memories. But we recognize that sometimes, even a simple board game can make a huge impact on those on both sides of the table.

 

Hireology staff pictured with shopping bags of clothes for Dress for Success
image via hireology

Hireology offers recruiting technologies for companies to reach their hiring goals, as well as onboarding, payroll and HR tools to manage post-hire responsibilities. CEO Adam Robinson said the company is partnering with an organization that aims to help women see success in their professional lives. 

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

This year, Hireology’s Employee Resource Group [email protected] hosted a clothing donation drive for Dress for Success. Dress for Success is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Dress for Success’ mission directly aligns with the mission of [email protected] and our team was thrilled to give back to this organization over the holidays.

Dress for Success’ mission directly aligns with the mission of [email protected] and our team was thrilled to give back to this organization over the holidays.”

 

Why is it so important for the company to give back?

It’s important to us that we give back to our community because it connects our employees to their work, fosters relationships and offers leadership opportunities above and beyond what might exist in current roles.

 

Showpad staff pictured in holiday attire holding gifts
image via showpad

Showpad better enables company sales and marketing teams to engage with prospective buyers through the analytics and content management systems it provides. Megan Flanagan, senior HR business partner, said Showpad has been committed to delivering aid to the Chicago community for some time, and that its efforts are maintained year round.

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

This holiday season, Showpad is partnering with the ReVive Center for Housing and Healing, a non-profit committed to ending homelessness in Chicago. Through the center’s gift basket program, our employees are providing a local family with gifts, clothes, gift cards to local grocery stores and other essentials.

We can’t grow and get stronger, as a company or a community, without supporting each other.”

 

Why is it important for your company to give back?

One of our core beliefs is that we can’t grow and get stronger, as a company or a community, without supporting each other, which is why we have a year-round commitment to corporate citizenship and social responsibility. When we decided to put down roots in Chicago, one of our goals was to have a positive impact on the city, and our partnership with the ReVive Center is one way we’re doing that this season. 

 

Five PHMG staff pictured in front of an absurdly large pile of toys
image via phmg

PHMG is a provider of audio branding services — offering companies tools like custom copy, voice actors and thematic music to enhance caller experiences. Stephanie Gilchrist, head of brand and marketing, discussed PHMG’s two holiday-focused philanthropic activities meant to benefit the Chicago community, as well as others across the world.

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

PHMG hosts two charitable events every holiday season — the Global Santa Dash and the Global Toy Appeal. This year’s event was our biggest yet, with over 300 staff taking part in eight different races across Chicago, San Francisco, Tampa, Georgia, Dallas, Toronto, Manchester and London – and raising a total of $20,616. This is closely followed by the Global Toy Appeal, in which staff donate toys and gifts to make sure the neediest children have a present to open during the holiday season.

The holidays are a particularly important occasion to spare a thought for those in need.”

 

Why is it so important for the company to give back? 

We host charity events throughout the year, but the holidays are a particularly important occasion to spare a thought for those in need. This is why we choose to host our two flagship fundraising events at this most special time of year, giving something back at a time when people need it most. 

 

HAVI staff pictured in their office
image via havi

HAVI provides businesses, particularly those in the restaurant industry, with packaging and logistics solutions to optimize their supply chains, as well as marketing analytics solutions. Senior Account Executive Rachael Zigrossi said the company’s service-focused approach to making client business operations better translates to a desire to make the lives of Chicagoans better.

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

We are currently partnering with Marklund, a local nonprofit that serves infants, children and adults with developmental disabilities, to provide gifts for the residents through a Giving Tree in our office. The Giving Tree offers our employees opportunities to purchase gifts for the residents. Marklund provided gift tags of wish items and our employees were ecstatic to participate — the first 20 gift tags were gone in less than 48 hours. We added 35 more tags, which were graciously selected just as quickly as the first ones.

It just makes sense that our employees serve the people and organizations in the communities where we operate.”

 

Why is it so important for the company to give back?

It’s an opportunity for employees to team up and work with one another to help those in need. Our business is customer-focused and service-oriented, so it just makes sense that our employees serve the people and organizations in the communities where we operate. Our charity partners appreciate the extra hands and employees bring camaraderie and leadership, which helps us build stronger connections and relationships individually and as a company.

 

Envoy global team pictured standing at table
image via envoy global

Envoy Global provides companies with efficient methods to manage their international workforce through its technology and legal representation services. Office Manager and Executive Administrator Brianna Babich and Talent Acquisition and Senior Recruiter Jess Krichevsky discussed the various philanthropy events Envoy participates in, and why they do them.

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

Babich: There are several different initiatives when it comes to philanthropy that Envoy encourages its employees to engage in. In November, we held a successful Refugee One Coat Drive. We are also great supporters of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, where our employees have donated their time to pack boxes of food. This month we are also focusing on spreading some holiday cheer for the kids at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago by donating as many toys as we can.

Giving back to Chicago’s community can create a profoundly positive impact on the world around us all.”

 

Why is it so important for your company to give back?

Krichevsky: Giving back in all shapes and forms strengthens our communities, brings people together and provides us with valuable experience and insight. Giving back to Chicago’s community can create a profoundly positive impact on the world around us all. When you volunteer, you realize just how much you are truly needed. Meeting people who need your help is a strong incentive to continue — people are depending on you. If you don’t do it, who will?

 

Nerdery team pictured in group photo
image via nerdery 

Nerdery is a digital consultancy agency that creates products and services for companies in the healthcare, retail and manufacturing industries. Principal Software Engineer and Team Manager Jim Butts said video games and fun, competitive activities are the basis of the company’s philanthropy efforts.

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

The holiday season marks the end of our annual Extra Life fundraising events. Extra Life is a 24-hour game-a-thon to raise money for local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For Nerdery’s Chicago office, that means creating a number of activities to fundraise for patients at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. We reach out to local businesses for sponsorships and leverage their support to drive a trivia night, poker tournament, bingo night, ping pong tournament, pancake breakfast and a full day of gaming, auctions and raffles for the big event.

When patients from Lurie Children’s visit our space, they love seeing all the common interests they share with our Nerds.”

 

Why is it so important for your company to give back?

When patients from Lurie Children’s visit our space, they love seeing all the common interests they share with our Nerds, and they take home an awareness that people in the community genuinely care about them. Listening to them speak about their individual journeys is a powerful reminder of the end goal of our fun and games. We are proud to have raised almost $13,000 this year in Chicago and almost $56,000 as a company in 2018.

 

Reverb.com staff in a portrait with a guitar on the ground
image via reverb.com

Reverb.com lets consumers get their inner rockstars on, acting as an online marketplace for consumers to buy and sell new and used musical equipment. Reverb Gives Director Susan Kalt said the company spreads holiday cheer by giving instruments to students that might not be able to jam otherwise. 

 

How does your company give back during the holidays?

We’re continuing our Reverb Gives initiative, which is dedicated to getting musical instruments into the hands of students who need them. A portion of every sale made on Reverb during the holiday season goes to Reverb Gives. Then, selected music programs, nonprofits and organizations all over the world are gifted money to purchase instruments directly from Reverb. This year, we’ve partnered with 40 programs and have even worked with the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl and The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. to get musical instruments into the hands of students.

As musicians and music lovers, we intimately understand the impact that learning a musical instrument can have on a person.”

 

Why is it important for your company to give back?

As musicians and music lovers, we intimately understand the impact that learning a musical instrument can have on a person. Our mission is to make the world a more musical place by making it easy for anyone to buy and sell musical instruments and equipment. Our Reverb Gives initiative is a direct extension of that goal, helping hundreds of incredible organizations and nonprofits put musical instruments into the hands of aspiring musicians who might not have had the opportunity to play music otherwise.

 

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