By Joshua Hall.  Originally posted on Techpoint.

You already know about part of Salesforce’s impact in Indiana — the software giant is creating more than 800 new jobs and 500 new apprenticeships, and investing $40 million that’s causing a ripple effect of growth and prosperity in the state’s tech sector.

What you might not know is that the Pledge 1% movement, a model of corporate philanthropy inspired by Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff’s 1/1/1 program at Salesforce, has the potential to compound that positive ripple effect through cooperation with other Indiana companies like Appirio, Torchlite and TrendyMinds.

Founded in 2014 by Salesforce, Atlassian, and Rally, Pledge 1% is a new normal for companies of all stages and sizes to give back to their communities. By pledging just a small portion of future success — one percent of corporate equity, profit, product and/or employee time — these three founding partners proved that the model can have an enormous impact on their local communities, which will be the same for Indianapolis.

Even if you are not quite ready to take the pledge, you can fill out this form to stay in the loop and receive more information about the Pledge 1% movement.

For example, the Salesforce employees in Indianapolis will donate more than 200,000 volunteer hours by the end of this year, mostly within public schools. That massive amount of volunteer time is achieved by employees giving their time simply four hours a month, or a total of six days of paid volunteer time a year that has a huge impact for the schools as well as the employees.

Susan Marshall

Susan Marshall, Founder & CEO, Torchlite

“People today are looking for meaningful work. They don’t want to just show up and punch the clock,” said Susan Marshall, founder and CEO of Torchlite. “In order to attract the best talent you have to look at them wholistically as people and help to provide what they need to feel connected to the work they do and really feel like they are making an impact.

“We have found that the Pledge 1% program just naturally brings people together and lets them get to know one another. I think when you find out what people are passionate about it reveals common ground beyond just getting the work done and helps improve collaboration, communication and empathy.”


As a two-year-old startup, Torchlite signed up to participate in the Pledge 1% program from the beginning with a focus on donating employee time. Later this summer, however, the marketing tech platform and marketplace company will roll out a new feature in its software that connects freelancers with nonprofits they are passionate about so they can contribute to campaigns through creating content pro bono or at a discounted rate.

As a signatory to the Pledge 1% movement, companies can choose to focus on one aspect like donating employee time or products and services, or they can choose to do a combination or all three — profits, products and time — or even a fourth way via company equity.

Trevor Yager, founder and CEO of TrendyMinds, says that his company chose to commit to all three when they made the pledge a little over a year ago because it was actually something they were already doing and that the Pledge 1% program helped to make it official.

Trevor Yager

Trevor Yager, Founder & CEO, TrendyMinds

“One of the things I really like about the Pledge 1% program is that they have everything organized,” Yager said. “If you need a letter to send out to your team that says how the program works or how to set it up, they already have a structure in place that makes things so much easier to run.

“We were actually already doing a lot of what we still do today on our own, so for us it was more of a validation than trying to ramp up efforts. We didn’t need to change who we are or what we were doing, but it was a matter of validating our programs and joining forces with our neighbor companies and having an even greater community impact.”

Following its first year of official participation in the movement, TrendyMinds is starting to see most of its employees get involved. According to Yager, Pledge 1% is a very flexible program structure that accommodates doing things together as a company or as individual employees.

Over the course of the year, TrendyMinds provided $220,000 worth of in-kind product and service donation to a single client event as a company (just one piece of their total), but they also incentivize their employees to volunteer on their own. For example, after volunteering 12 hours with the company, one employee earned an additional eight hours of volunteer time off, which he used to take his little brother fishing through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana.

“The great thing about Pledge 1% is that It’s not too hard to do; they just give you everything, so especially for small companies and tech companies that have a lot going on sometimes, it can be hard to come up with a program from the ground up. This is a great way to get everything you need to give back and not have such a heavy lift to get started,” Yager said.

Even large companies can adopt the program and sign on to the Pledge 1% movement without having to abandon their established philanthropic programs or their own branding. Appirio, for example, the Indianapolis-headquartered global cloud services company, started its own internal Silver Lining program a decade ago, and also chose to sign on to the Pledge 1% program.

Steve Pruden

Steve Pruden, SVP Human Resources, Appirio

“We kept the original Appirio Silver Lining branding, which interestingly also was inspired by Benioff’s 1/1/1 model, and it has grown way beyond the basics of the Pledge 1% mantra,” said Steve Pruden, senior vice president of human resources for Appirio.

“All of our volunteer and philanthropic initiatives flow under the Silver Lining umbrella and so that’s how we brand it internally, but we also make sure we meet our commitments as a company signed on to the [Pledge 1%] movement.”


By lining itself up with thousands of other companies, and doing so publicly, Appirio is fulfilling a broader purpose than just selling more services or generating more revenue. The Pledge 1% program helps the company identify culturally with other great companies and it’s a key to holding themselves accountable.

“Whether we are doing things like setting budgets, tracking volunteer time or looking at what types of pro bono technologies we want to offer, we always look to make sure that we are meeting or exceeding our one percent obligation, and most of the time we go beyond it,” Pruden said.

At Appirio, the volunteer hours are measured in the tens of thousands and the amount of money donated through their Pledge 1% affiliated Silver Lining program is in the millions. The company has a Silver Lining program manager based in Indianapolis and champions in every physical office, including Tokyo, Dublin, London and more, as well as in different global regions to make sure its large virtual workforce is thoughtfully engaged.

Pruden thinks the impact of the Pledge 1% movement will dramatically increase in the near term as more Indianapolis-based companies become aware of the program and choose to sign on. “If you look at the combined impact of what all of the Pledge 1% companies are doing globally with just a small one percent pledge of time, product or profits, it’s amazing,” Pruden said.

“When you take a step back and look at what Appirio has accomplished over a decade of doing this and all that we alone have been able to do, it puts it into perspective how big that impact really is when you realize that there are now thousands of companies signed on to the movement having an impact all over the world. It just makes sense that companies like ours and Salesforce and so many others that are doing well are smart to join forces to give back, and the Pledge 1% program is a great way to go about doing it.”