By Rosalyn Retkwa. Originally published on New York Nonprofit Media.
The Robin Hood Foundation has signed on as the New York City partner for the Pledge 1% initiative, a corporate philanthropy movement that encourages private companies to dedicate 1% of equity, 1% of employee time, and 1% of their product to support nonprofits.
The idea for the Pledge 1% model originated 16 years ago with Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff. When he launched his San Francisco-based software company, Benioff implemented his “1-1-1 Plan,” which now serves as the foundation of the Pledge 1% movement.
The Pledge 1% nonprofit was co-founded by Salesforce along with the Boulder-based Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, and Atlassian, a software company with headquarters in Sydney, Australia. Officially launched last December on Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back, the movement announced its target of “securing 500 pledges” by 2015’s Giving Tuesday. To date, the program has already received pledges from 250 companies, said Dipti Pratt, the director of Pledge 1%.
Robin Hood is the nonprofit’s first East Coast partner. In addition to its Sydney and California locations, Pledge 1% has been launched in Austin, Texas and will be started in London this fall, Pratt reported.
Robin Hood will work through the venture capital community to find start-ups willing to take the pledge, says Claire Chamberlain, Robin Hood’s managing director of development. Known for its roster of prominent hedge fund sponsors, Robin Hood will implement its “model used with the hedge fund community” to co-host breakfasts and after-work parties with venture capitalists who will invite their portfolio companies, Chamberlain said.
“The start-up tech sector is really on fire here in New York City,” Chamberlain said, noting that there also a number of other potential “connectors” in New York City’s tech community, such as incubators and accelerators.
“The concept is to roll this out around the world, region by region, and to use local partners in each area to bring the message to the start-up and tech community,” said Chamberlain. The goal is also to get start-ups involved early on so the commitment to philanthropy is embedded in a company’s DNA, she said.
“This movement is about as you do well – if your company does well – your community should do well, linking that early on,” Chamberlain said.
Robin Hood held its Pledge 1% launch party on May 4th at the Porchlight Bar in lower Manhattan. About 150 people came to hear a panel of speakers that included Suzanne DiBianca, the president of the Salesforce Foundation; Robin Hood board member Lee Ainslie, the head of hedge fund Maverick Capital; Seth Levine, a managing director at the venture capital firm, Foundry Group; and Ryan Martens, the chief technology officer at Rally Software.
Patty Smith, Robin Hood’s managing director for marketing and communications, says that the 11 companies that took the pledge that evening were from a range of businesses, including DEG, a digital marketing firm; small business lender Fundera; General Assembly, which offers classes in technology, business, and design; investment manager Guggenheim Partners; and Native, which specializes in travel management for small- and medium-sized businesses.
Pledge 1% has also received pledges from some of the biggest names in technology – notably, Google, Oracle, and the web optimization platform provider Optimizely.
Given its roots in the investment world, Robin Hood is known for its metrics-based approach – which measures the impact and effectiveness of different programs in fighting poverty – developed by the foundation’s Economist and Chief Program Officer Michael M. Weinstein.
As part of this Pledge 1% initiative, Chamberlain said Robin Hood will share with pledge companies its “road map for what effective philanthropy looks like.”