As a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), I’ve had the opportunity to work with some pretty amazing people over the years, and have always been impressed with how “Community-Focused” this group of people can be.
I was, however, recently blown away by a friend of mine who’s also an MVP, and who I’ve had the pleasure of working with on numerous occasions. Arnie Rowland, who runs a consulting company based in the Pacific Northwest called "Westwood Consulting, Inc.” came up with what I think is a brilliant idea. (More on this in a second, but let me set the stage first)
One of the perks of being awarded the MVP award from Microsoft is you receive special attention from the product teams from time to time. Once in awhile a product team will decide to do something very nice for MVPs, like send some special SWAG, put on a special chat session, or offer an invite to take part in face to face meetings. Sometimes, in conjunction with the marketing teams, they offer SWAG that can be very impressive. Well, this year the Developer Division decided that developer MVPs would receive Not-For-Resale MSDN Subscription vouchers that they could give out any way that they chose. (Since many MVPs spend a fair amount of time in public speaking engagements, offering one as a giveaway for the event is likely what they had in mind). These things retail for just over $12K each, so it was certainly a very generous give-away. Of course it now begs the question, how do you maximize the value of these things and get them to people who could really benefit from them.
Here’s where Arnie comes in. He came up with this great idea, which in a nutshell says, “If you’re an unemployed or underemployed developer, we’ll give you free software and the information you need to use it if you’re willing to use it to help out a non-profit agency --- Oh, and you have to prove that you are willing to treat this seriously by submitting a proposal for the work you’ll do”. Arnie discusses this all in a blog post here: http://sqlblog.com/blogs/arnie_rowland/archive/2010/07/12/while-you-don-t-get-a-free-lunch-you-will-get-your-just-deserts.aspx All in all this is an amazing “Win-Win” type project. The un-or-underemployed developer receives over $12K worth of software (there’s more than just the MSDN subscription on the table) and some deserving non-profit organization gets a problem solved!
When I talked to Arnie about this, I realized that I definitely wanted to be involved, so I donated the MSDN subscriptions that I had been given to him for this project. As it turns out several other MVPs have decided to do the same, so this is starting to almost go viral. The guys on the ping show over on MSDN Channel 9 picked it up in a recent episode, and it was also mentioned in a recent MSDN Flash.
So, if you’re reading this and you’re interested in helping out a non-profit organization, head on over to Arnies Blog, and submit an idea. Who knows, you may end up with a very cool pack of software.