November 15 may just be another Thursday for many folks, but it’s a special day for us here at Rackspace — it’s National Philanthropy Day. While it may seem strange to post about National Philanthropy Day on Rackspace.com, it’s actually a really demonstrative way to talk about who we are as a company.
When the ethos of your organization hangs on Fanatical Support, you start to look at the world differently. There are, of course, the expected “side effects” one would expect, like effusively promoting companies that create great experiences for their customers, and making references in our own language (“Can anyone recommend a Fanatical mechanic that specializes in XYZ?”). But Fanatical Support is not about taking something subpar and making it acceptable. Fanatical Support is about making things great for others; it’s about doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do. And Fanatical Support is the reason we value National Philanthropy Day.
We have innumerable facets of philanthropy at Rackspace - some touch on our core value of Friends & Family, such as when a Racker is in crisis and we rally behind them to raise money, donate items or even rotate meals so the family is covered; some center on Rackers who are passionate about causes that may not fit our corporate focus of giving, but are important nonetheless, so we support them in their individual pursuit of doing the right thing. It's important that we hold sacred the ability of our Rackers to do the right thing - whether it's corporately sponsored or not.
Our Community Affairs group is responsible for initiatives centered on the notion of providing Fanatical Support for the communities in which we live, work and play. We create opportunities for Rackers to give their time, talent and treasure in meaningful ways. When Rackspace moved into an abandoned shopping mall and repurposed it into our global headquarters, we embarked on one of America's largest recycling projects - 1.2 million square feet of derelict space converted to a LEED-certified economic generator in what was a declining part of San Antonio. We partnered with the community and asked how we could be a good neighbor. We launched the Rackspace Foundation, a 501(c)3 whose sole purpose is to create a vibrant learning community - a place of hope - beginning with the seven schools in our neighborhood. We continued to strengthen Rack Gives Back, the organization that drives the lion's share of our community investment through volunteerism and corporate charitable giving. We are responsible for creating another side of Fanatical Support.
November is a busy month, not just because of the coming holidays but because of how invested Rackers – from frontline Rackers to our senior leadership team – are in this “other” side of Fanatical Support. We are wrapping up our annual Thanksgiving Food Drive in which Rackers donated (at last count) 1,240 food boxes, quadrupling the amount we’re able to give to our neighborhood’s families compared to last year. This Saturday we’ll have masses of families who received vouchers from the San Antonio Food Bank drive through our parking lot to pick up their Thanksgiving food boxes and turkeys. This week we held our quarterly blood drive for the South Texas Blood and Tissue Center which yielded 79 pints of blood, or 237 lives saved. And for this day only – National Philanthropy Day – our Chairman, Graham Weston, has announced a 2:1 match for all donations made to the Rackspace Foundation. Last year Rackers raised $85,280 in just 24 hours so that we could place a team of 10 City Year corps members at Roosevelt High School, our next door neighbor; this year the challenge is $150,000. In 24 hours. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, that number is wildly audacious. But what’s really amazing is that Rackers always step up to the challenge. It’s what we do when there’s a need, and in this community where, on average, there’s as many as 78 percent of our students on free and reduced lunch fare, and a roughly 24 percent mobility rate*, there’s most certainly a need. We owe it to our neighborhood to invest, to partner and to leave things better than we found them. This is the way Rackers – collectively and as individuals – will leave a legacy of Fanatical Support.
To our customers, partners and friends, I encourage you to jump on the Fanatical Support train, not just for National Philanthropy Day, but every day, in the communities in which you live, work and play. Adopt your neighborhoods. Invest in them. Take ownership of your communities and know that you don't have to move mountains to make a difference. Every little bit helps, and every act of giving brings our communities closer to greatness. Fanatical Support isn't a cultural catchphrase at Rackspace; it's alive and well in this season of giving, and of giving thanks to those who help us show we're invested in our communities.
To learn more about the Rackspace Foundation, or to contribute to the National Philanthropy Day match, please click here.
*rates of economic disadvantage and mobility are as high as 96% and 30%, respectively, in some of our schools.