By Therese Poletti.  Originally published on MarketWatch.

As #GivingTuesday donation pleas flood social networks and in-boxes today in a worldwide effort to raise attention and funding for nonprofits, some might be skeptical of pleas or philanthropic touts from tech companies, which have an inconsistent reputation for philanthropy.

But Pledge 1%, a year-old corporate philanthropy movement, is using the fourth annual Giving Tuesday to announce that more than 500 companies, including many tech startups, have committed to the once-novel donation model created by Inc. CRM, -0.66%  co-founder Marc Benioff in the early days of the cloud-based software company. Pledge 1% is a promise to give 1% of a company’s equity, 1% of the company’s product, or 1% of employee time back to communities around the world; Salesforce does all three.

“We try to make it easy for CEOs and for startup companies and CEOs to be focused with their philanthropy,” said Suzanne DiBianca, president of, the company’s nonprofit arm. “We want every company to make their own decisions where their investments should be.”

San Francisco-based is joined as a founding members of Pledge 1% by Atlassian, the Australian software company with a Slack rival called HipChat; the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado; Tides; and Rally for Impact. Among the list of 500-plus companies that have taken the pledge are a mix of unknown young tech companies and better known startups with hefty valuations, such as Twilio and Zuora Inc. Others are not even tech firms, like Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. Some venture capital firms — from well-known funders such as Bessemer Venture Partners to smaller shops like Blackbird Ventures in Surry Hills, Australia — are also joining in to make it part of the process for startups they fund.

The effort could help tech’s somewhat poor reputation for community outreach, which has festered despite the efforts of Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +0.90%   co-founder Bill Gates, who created the world’s largest private foundation in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Benioff and the Salesforce model have often been highlighted as an example of a rare tech company focused on giving back to its community, especially as San Francisco Bay Area residents blame rising rents, evictions and the cost of living on the tech boom.

DiBianca defends tech companies and says any negative reputation is a bit of a myth.

“I don’t think it’s true, it’s true for some companies and some CEOs,” she said, adding that many companies just want guidance or help. “They just don’t know what to do and how to do it. We are just providing tools.”

A recent corporate philanthropy list compiled by the San Francisco Business Times based on 2014 cash donations made in the Bay Area shows that many tech companies are not the Scrooges they are often believed to be. Of the 83 companies cited, 26 are tech firms, with Google Inc. (now known as Alphabet Inc.)GOOG, -2.28% GOOGL, -2.26%  topping the list with cash donations to Bay Area nonprofits of $40 million in 2014. Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO, +0.13%  ranked No. 5 with $14 million in local giving, followed by Salesforce at No. 6, with $12 million.

The list does not include time spent volunteering by employees, product donations and equity donations, which Salesforce pioneered. A company spokeswoman said that since its founding in 1999, Salesforce has donated $100 million in grants around the world, employees have volunteered 1.1 million hours, and 27,000 organizations are using Salesforce software for free or at a discount.

The group has big plans for the initiative: Emboldened by their success this year, the Pledge 1% movement hopes to reach more than 1,500 pledges by Giving Tuesday in 2016. Here’s wishing them luck in pushing tech to follow Salesforce’s example in the community.