Focus on Giving Back

March 1, 2012
Las Vegas does not normally evoke thoughts of charity, but one HIMSS12 thread showed a focus on charitable donations.

I admit that by the time I left Las Vegas, I was not feeling particularly kindly about the dollar-focused atmosphere. I was profoundly unimpressed with hotel business services that required a charge card to pay for Internet connectivity to print my airline boarding pass. And McCarran Airport added insult to injury with its kiosk offering electrical juice for $3 for 30 minutes.

But as I recall the positive atmosphere of the HIMSS12 exhibit hall, I am pinning my hopes on the positives that kicked off with the keynote and continued throughout the week. Opening keynote speaker and Twitter cofounder Biz Stone made a point to encourage altruism within the community that extends to impact society. “The most important thing,” he told the audience of thousands, “is not that there is a triumph of technology, but that the technology supports a triumph of humanity.”

The days of heavy swag, oxygenation machines, and athlete signing stations are thankfully long gone. But it was particularly refreshing to find companies in the vast exhibit hall pledging to make a difference by making donations to charities. Pasadena, Calif.-based NextGate based its pledge to donate to the Breast Cancer Society based on number of visitors to its booth. Attendees who mentioned the word ‘doctor’ at the Nashville, Tenn.-based Shareable Ink booth triggered a donation to Doctors without Borders.

And a different spin came from Sunnyvale, Calif.-based NetApp, which is collecting facts about how technology saves lives. They publicized the campaign and enlisted attendees by distributing plastic wristbands entitled “Technology Saves Lives” along with details about how to help them meet the goal. When they reach their goal of 1,000 facts, they have pledged to donate a storage system to the Be The Match, operated bythe National Marrow Donor Program, on behalf of everyone who contributes.

Good will can go hand-in-hand with good business practices. And it was a refreshing takeaway.

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