QAD’s Project Upgrade Inspires Corporate Giving Strategies

CPR Advisory Council members and QAD executive Murray Ray recently hosted a forum on corporate philanthropy.

Founded in 1979 with a vision to develop software exclusively for manufacturing companies, QAD today boasts more than 1,500 employees and 20 offices around the world, specializing in six main industries including automotive, consumer products, high technology, food and beverage, industrial equipment, and life sciences. Alongside the success of its company has been the growth of QAD’s corporate philanthropy program. “When I tell people I work for QAD, they comment on our good company, nice people, and beautiful facility. Many of them have even attended parties at our campus for local charities,” said Murray Ray, vice president of organizational development and chief people officer for QAD. “Our corporate philanthropy has helped us gain a reputation of being good citizens in the community.”

At a quarterly forum of over 35 business leaders and members, facilitated by the Corporate Philanthropy Roundtable of Santa Barbara County (CPR), QAD representatives explained the importance of defining giving goals and cultivating relationships with community partners. “In the past we gave money based on employee requests. The biggest problem was that we had no clear justification to why we would say yes to one group and no to another. So we decided we really needed to form some sort of strategy,” said Murray. “We decided that what we believe in is the intersection of children, education, and technology. We also believe in competition and in developing world-class education. To us that meant we should start focusing our giving in those areas.”

What emerged was QAD’s flagship program, Project Upgrade, which provides funding for schools to advance their technology. “It is an incredibly rewarding experience to see schools transformed,” said Catherine Hand, chair of QAD’s Committee on Corporate Involvement. “We have visited schools before and after, and have seen completely different classroom configurations and teachers and students who are engaged in using technology.”

Employee Benefits

In addition to visibly making a difference in the community, QAD’s corporate philanthropy program provides professional benefits for employees. “Participation in the committee is rewarding to the employees because it gives them opportunities for leadership, emphasizes teamwork, and gives them exposure to people in the community,” said Catherine.

Other businesses echoed that sentiment, saying that corporate giving programs elevate employee engagement in their communities. “Our committee members will go to bat for the nonprofit organizations they are representing; what ends up happening is advocacy and ambassadors emerge,” said Marybeth Carty, community partnership manager at Venoco, Inc. “One of the ancillary benefits is that there are now more informed community members with a higher level of civil engagement.”

About CPR

CPR’s mission is to build avenues for Santa Barbara County businesses to generate enduring community investment strategies. The Santa Barbara Foundation is a founding partner of CPR and continues to support its mission, strategies, and outreach. “Although corporate philanthropy is not new, it is definitely evolving with many more moving parts than ever before,” said Tina Fanucchi-Frontado, president of SB Philanthropy. “CPR has been and remains a valuable cornerstone for the growth of our business, and is a necessary resource for any business wanting to implement smart philanthropy.”

Are you starting or growing a corporate giving program? Join the Corporate Philanthropy Roundtable for conversation forums, strategies, and resources. For events and membership information, please visit
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