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Philanthropy & Culture: Our 1% Pledge to the Upside Foundation

Your last name does not need to be Gates, Buffett or Zuckerberg for you to be a philanthropist. Philanthropy is simply donating your time, knowledge or money, and there are no minimums to participate in this giving game.
 
This month at the Salesforce World Tour in Toronto, we pledged 1% of our equity to the Upside Foundation, a platform to help Canadian startups and high-growth companies “Share The Upside” and positively impact our community.
 
In business, we’ve all heard the late Peter Drucker’s quote that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. The essence of a culture is not captured in the material things like free lunches, dry cleaning or ping pong tables; it must go much deeper for culture to be a true competitive advantage.
 
I remember during my first week as an employee at salesforce.com, I was flown to California for onboarding. On the 2nd day, we spent the better part of it packing lunches for those that couldn’t afford it. It was at Salesforce that I was introduced to a bottom-up approach to philanthropy where employees were given 4 work days (1%) to give their time back to charity.
 
To this day, much of these philanthropic events at Salesforce keep employees talking, engaged and giving back. This stems back to a pledge to philanthropy made by the founders in the early days of Salesforce when 1% of the company was put aside and a commitment made to donate 1% of the company’s equity, time and product to charities.
 
At that time, Salesforce was worth very little, struggling to find venture money and amidst the dotcom crash. Now, 17 years later, the company enjoys a $50B plus market cap and that 1% pledge has contributed millions of service hours, grants and donated product along with inspiring hundreds of companies to make that same commitment.
 
For those companies adopting this model of philanthropy and supporting the 1:1:1 model, my hat is off to you. You are trailblazers for building a new competitive advantage by having a culture that is not only committed to the bottom line and growth but also to the importance of giving back and showing corporate social responsibility.
 
For those of you starting or working on startups, 1% of something small is still something small. However, philanthropy is not defined by your logo on the wall of a major hospital or educational institution. You can make a small investment in philanthropy today that will bring near-term returns in culture and long-term financial upside for your entire community.
 
The time is now to plant your seed of giving and let your team water it every day by building a successful company that creates wealth, jobs and gives back to your community.
 
Everyone is rooting for you. Make the pledge. Make it happen.
 
We are doing it today.
 
To learn more about how you can make the 1% pledge, visit www.pledge1percent.org. If you’re a Canadian company, contact the partner of Pledge 1%, upsidefoundation.ca.

David Bloom