Why startups should follow in the footsteps of Atlassian and Salesforce and take the 1% pledge

Polly Sumner_Salesforce World Tour Melbourne 2016

Atlassian, Salesforce and Rally are calling on startups to make the 1% pledge and become part of a global corporate philanthropic movement.

Celebrating its first year anniversary, Pledge 1% has seen more than 700 companies across the globe contribute 1% of its product, time and equity to not-for-profit, socially-aware causes.

Australia is leading the way, with 80 local businesses taking on the cause, including Pozible, Culture Amp and Blackbird Ventures.

Speaking at the Melbourne-leg of the World Tour, Salesforce chief adoption officer Polly Sumner highlighted social conscience as one of the rising trends in business.

A 2015 study on corporate giving found that employer generosity with charitable projects boosts employee commitment to the workplace.

The report also revealed that nearly 90% of Australian employees feel proud to be at workplaces that sponsor corporate giving programs.

Through the 1% Pledge, Salesforce has given back more than $150 million and one million service hours to the community.

Giving back

The best thing about the pledge is that even the smallest of startups can make the pledge and start creating a difference,Blackbird Ventures co-founder Rick Baker says.

“Particularly, for startups at the early stage, it’s a really easy thing to plug into the organisation,” Baker tells StartupSmart.

The 1-1-1 philanthropic model provides a practical way for startups and large corporations to easily build a culture of giving into the business model.

“Everyone wants to be philanthropic and this is a really good framework to make it happen,” Baker says.

While the Blackbird Ventures founding team has always wanted to give back to the startup community, Baker says by joining the pledge they are able to give back to the broader community as well.

“With 1%, we think of it not just as giving money but also as 1% of time and we put a lot of effort into helping and mentoring,” he says.

Since making the pledge a couple of years ago, Blackbird Ventures has been heavily involved in projects like the First Robotics Competition and its initiatives like Robots in the Outback, aimed at inspiring more children to pursue STEM education and career paths.

These programs help bridge the gap for children who would otherwise have no way of getting into these fields, Baker says.

Contributing to the future

Australian Schools Plus is a beneficiary of Pledge 1%, which helped the group to connect students in disadvantaged communities and remote areas with people inside global tech companies like Salesforce.

“It’s really about making it a lot easier for businesses and individuals to make those connections with disadvantaged schools,” Australian Schools Plus CEO Rosemary Conn says.

“The earlier that students are engaged and understand what options are available, later on the smarter they can be about what subjects they pick.

“And having positive role models from business or the community taking part in lessons, or for students to go out and see what it’s like in a workplace, basically showcases what opportunities are available.”

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.