By Nicholas King. Originally published on Corporate Philanthropy Report.
Some might think that strategic corporate philanthropy is the provenance of established and well-heeled companies, but the truth is that any business—at any stage of its life cycle—can launch a tactical, multitiered giving program that incorporates cash, product and employee volunteerism, or some combination of these core elements of citizenship.
According to the backers of the Pledge 1% initiative, even brand-new start-ups at the venture capital stage can take a thoughtful and deliberate approach to philanthropy that capitalizes on the anticipated business success to come.
“Pledge 1% is a movement dedicated to making the world a better place by inspiring, fostering and celebrating corporate philanthropy,” said Dipti Pratt, spokesperson for the initiative, which was founded by senior business leaders at software maker Atlassian and cloud-computing firm Salesforce.com, and aided in its development by the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado.
“It encourages and challenges individuals and companies to pledge 1 percent of equity, product and employee time for their communities”—a goal that Salesforce committed to when it was a young company, Pratt said.
The initiative is well-suited for early-stage companies because it allows founders to easily set aside company equity—usually in the form of stock or options—at a time when it isn’t necessarily all that valuable. But if things go right and the business is successful, that small set-aside can mean large sums of money for the nonprofits the company supports, Pratt said.
Of course, companies can take the pledge at any point in their life cycle. Those that have not yet built programs have the opportunity to develop them with the help of Atlassian, Salesforce and EFCO associates; meanwhile, more established companies have the chance to refine their programs to incorporate more elements—be it adding an employee volunteerism program or identifying the best partners for product donations, she said.
Pratt and others at Pledge 1% aid companies in doing this, by providing the tools, best practices and relevant information to make it easy for any company or person to incorporate philanthropy into their business model.
“From providing a turnkey mechanism to retain equity for a private company to providing resources around a product donation program, we aim to help companies build a culture of giving in their company,” Pratt said.
Instilling that ethos also helps when it comes to attracting and keeping high-valued employees, she said.
“In addition to having great impact in society, integrating these programs into a company assists in retention and recruitment, furthering employee morale, enhanced corporate culture, brand and overall reputation,” she said.
These programs, she said, are critical to strengthening the culture of a company.
“Giving employees the chance to connect with their peers in a meaningful way is integral to building a stronger corporate culture,” she said.
According to Pratt, the group has its work cut out to hit a target of at least 500 corporate pledges by Giving Tuesday 2015—which falls on Dec. 1 this year.
“We are focused on providing visibility for the movement’s growth, impact and partnership through our digital channels; we’ll be doing local launch events in large entrepreneurial cities throughout this year to bring founders together with community leaders; and we’re creating partnerships that will be a big part of reaching entrepreneurs through angels, accelerators, venture capitalists and service providers,” she said.
For more information, visit www.pledge1percent.org.