By Chris Kohlhardt, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Gliffy
We took the Pledge 1% because I want to be able to give something back to the San Francisco community I have called home for over 22 years. We worked very hard to build Gliffy into a strong company. Myself and the company have been fortunate, given many opportunities and touched by luck. We are humbled to be in a position to take a portion of our success and
reinvest it, hopefully sending a little luck and opportunity in the lives of community members who need it most.
Gliffy started our philanthropy by matching employee gifts to organizations that were personally important to them. We joined Pledge 1% in the early stage of our company’s development to ensure it was part of our company’s DNA. As the Gliffy Charitable Fund grew, we realized we were in a position to make larger investments. We have been inspired by the philanthropic efforts of large companies such as Salesforce, Atlassian and Google, but as a company with less than 40 staff we also believe we have a role to play in being active citizens.
Like many San Franciscans we struggle with homelessness in our city. Myself and others on our team have expressed a sense of helplessness faced with men, women and families living on the streets. We chose this as the area we wanted to support believing that taking some sort of action is the only way to reduce the feeling of being helpless.
We recognized we are a software company without any in-house expertise on non-profits or philanthropy. We hired an advisor to help us identify a project that was designed by local experts, aligned with our values and in need of funding. We were inspired by the work of Jeff Kositsky and the leadership at San Francisco’s newly created Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. We chose to invest in their expanded “problem-solving” strategy to help minimize the pipeline of people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco.
We built out an additional level of opportunities for our staff to learn about the issue and other organizations working on homelessness. We have created a year of programming for Gliffy staff including activities like volunteering with Downtown Streets Team to help us understand the individual experiences with homelessness. We are also bringing in local experts like Enterprise Community Partners to help us understand the larger policy work that exacerbates Bay Area housing costs across income levels. Importantly, we are including smaller financial contributions for each organization to go along with each of these activities.
At Gliffy we haven’t forgotten about our business goals and objectives, but we are working to expand our place in the community and to do our part to give back. We hope to inspire other smaller companies to incorporate a philanthropy program into their work. We are eager to help. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Chris Kohlhardt is Founder and Chairman of the Board of Gliffy, a San Francisco-based software company that specializes in visual tools that power and help teams work better together. Gliffy is also a member of Pledge 1%, which encourages and challenges individuals and companies to commit 1% of equity, profit, product, and/or employee time for their communities.