Whenever the economy gets into trouble, charitable contributions take an even greater beating. This recession has struck particularly hard at many of the organizations that are major sources of institutional donations. No amount of tax incentives seem to change this picture significantly.
Therefore, every little bit counts. Companies still have some self-interest in charity, but that doesn't change the importance of the outcome.
Case in point is Atlassian, who is donating a portion of their core business, Confluence and JIRA, to raise money for Room To Read. The one-year, 5 users at $5 per user deal (click here for details) is hardly a cost-free donation for Atlassian. Confluence has a lot of traction in the Wiki market on its own. The Confluence/Jira duo appear frequently in technical teams who want a mix of tools that fit their work, but are flexible enough to be twisted into whatever collaborative shape they want. Heavily discounting these licenses, therefore, is nothing to sniff at.
Other tech vendors who have built charity into their business plans, like Salesforce, continue their investments, even during these tough economic times. These efforts don't get much attention from analysts like us, so I'm glad for a chance to give a quick nod in this direction.
[Cross-posted at The Forrester product management blog.]