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02 Dec. 2014 | Comments (0)

Whereas vast numbers of individuals and organizations will use Giving Tuesday to donate directly, for some companies it’s also about influencing others and making philanthropy easier and more ubiquitous in the corporate world. This is the goal of the Pledge 1% project, a new campaign that aims to promote early-stage philanthropy. The campaign was founded by the Salesforce Foundation, the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, and the Atlassian Foundation.

Launching today, “Pledge 1%” seeks to secure 500 commitments of 1 percent of personal and company equity, product and employee time fledgling companies and their entrepreneurial founders. The campaign will end on Giving Tuesday, 2015.

Targeting start-ups whose founders have yet to exit means that Pledge 1% can introduce a philanthropic culture to companies early, allowing it to permeate the organization as it grows. Ryan Martens, founder and CTO of Rally Software, and a founding board member of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, knows this from experience.

“When founding Rally Software, we made the commitment to pledge 1 percent of our personal and corporate equity to benefit the community and create the Rally Foundation,” he says. “This commitment has had a huge impact on our overall corporate culture and values. From day 1, the commitment allowed us to have philanthropy as a core value and core mission of the business, helping us attract and retain people who are absolutely aligned with what we’re trying to do as a business. I encourage all entrepreneurs to make this same pledge to society.”

Growing the philosophy

The pledge is based on the 1-1-1 model of philanthropy introduced by the Salesforce Foundation 15 years ago. Other companies, including Google and Yelp, have also adopted the practice. But the move to get pledges from swathes of other, newer companies and entrepreneurs is the result of the realization on the part of Salesforce that in order for the philosophy to grow, it needed to step back and give the philosophy a platform that could encourage new signatories.

Pledge 1% became that platform. A large part of the operation is to secure commitments, but it is also more than just outreach: staff contact new pledgers and their companies to help them find local organizations and to promote the subsequent successes.

Building off Giving Tuesday

It is perhaps obvious that Giving Tuesday should be the occasion for the launch of such a campaign. But it is worth repeating that Pledge 1% is about both the personal philanthropy of the entrepreneurs, as well as the corporate philanthropy of their organizations. Martens calls the day “a perfect context to talk about corporate philanthropy at the same time as talking about individual philanthropy.” Regional launches will take place further along in the campaign to ensure a continued focus on the drive to 500 pledges.

The social media element of Giving Tuesday is yet another reason to use the day as a launch, and the Twitter handle @PledgeOne will help to promote new pledges.

Beyond Giving Tuesday 2015 and the 500 expected commitments, Pledge 1% seeks to expand within the U.S. and internationally. The campaign is hoping to identify new channel partners that will help it reach into the entrepreneurial community and create contacts it hasn’t had in the past. Also, bringing in local and regional community foundations and other philanthropy organizations will help to promote effective engagement by entrepreneurs in their communities.

“The idea of creating impact is probably the next frontier for the campaign,” says Martens. “From successful impact we will see a doubling down of these efforts. Then you will start to see the financial impact of, say, being able to recruit more effectively than other organizations in your space. That’s when the benefits of paying it forward come back at a multiplied level.”

  • About the Author:Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson is Principal of Parky Communications, a communications agency specializing in sustainability and CSR reporting and communications. He serves as the Co-Leader of The Conference Board Cor…

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