By Scott Cunningham, Head of Alliances with a focus on Salesforce at PandaDoc.  Scott’s an entrepreneur, investor, and child rights activist, with a love for emerging technology, start-ups, and innovative ideas.  He, his wife, and 3 children live in the heart of Silicon Slopes, Utah. Follow him on Twitter: @1c

 

Many businesses have the desire to get involved in philanthropic initiatives, but there are many hesitations that companies have to overcome before doing this successfully.  As a small, but quickly growing company, resources and time are scarce, so how do you make the jump to building a scalable, truly impactful corporate giving program, and maybe more importantly, embrace giving as part of your corporate identity and culture?

PandaDoc was founded in 2013 with the goal of making it easy for businesses to transact faster.  Over the last few years PandaDoc has grown and now counts over 7000 businesses as customers, and recently raised a $15.5 Million Series B led by Rembrandt Ventures, with participation from Microsoft Ventures, HubSpot, and others.  Through this time PandaDoc has maintained a focus on three primary values: Impact, Learning, and Fun.

  • Impact – We’re building something big. Something that will have a huge impact on how people do business.
  • Learning – While we are all experts in our relevant fields, we always make time to continue to expand our minds.
  • Fun – We work hard. But we also like to have fun while giving it our all.

Since inception, the mantra of giving back has lived and breathed throughout the PandaDoc culture but wasn’t ever defined.  In full transparency, many excuses were made around why PandaDoc wasn’t able to formalize these programs.  PandaDoc was growing too quickly to divert focus on areas other than revenue generation or channel development. Team members were already working long hours, and nobody wanted to add to their workload.  The marketing team was small and stretched thin as it was, and creating additional content about giving back wasn’t immediately revenue generating.

Looking back, Mikita Mikado, PandaDoc CEO, says that, “We’ve always been a philanthropy driven organization, although it hasn’t always been expressly spelled out.  Even though we may be perceived as late to the game when it comes to our corporate philanthropy, it’s important for every company to realize it’s never too early, and never too late to initiate a giving program. Pledge1% enables organizations of any size to build and track their programs with turn-key resources.”

As PandaDoc has grown, partnerships have expanded, and relationships with key industries have been developed.  Specifically, PandaDoc integrates with over 20 of the top CRMs, such as Salesforce, HubSpot, & Microsoft Dynamics. These channels are driving the PandaDoc growth. I recently joined PandaDoc as Head of Alliances focused on growing the Salesforce channel.  One of the key things I advocated early on was the necessity of creating a philanthropic culture.  In short, there are three important reasons that a philanthropic corporate culture is essential, especially when working with Salesforce:

Business Necessity

Although it’s not always spoken of publicly, it is commonly understood that being a cause-driven company has an impact on the revenues and success of businesses. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, pioneered the 1, 1, 1 philanthropic model.  This model is core to the culture and methodologies at Salesforce.  If PandaDoc wants to transact and develop a deep synergistic relationship with Salesforce, it’s a necessity to not only externally exemplify what Salesforce wants as a partner, but to indeed live and support this values-driven culture internally.  Marc Benioff has said, “To be truly successful, companies need to have a corporate mission that is bigger than making a profit.”

Marketing Alignment

Ensuring that the areas of focus for a company’s corporate giving initiatives align with your brand is extremely important.  It’s also important to ensure that your team members, investors, partners, and customers care about and support your initiatives as well.  At PandaDoc, the critical areas of our focus on giving relate to Human Rights and Gender Equality, as well as Social Equity.

Experience-Driven Partnerships

PandaDoc is experience focused.  Not only does PandaDoc have a beautifully simple and well-executed product (shameless plug….check it out at www.pandadoc.com), but is also focused on creating valuable experiences for employees, investors, customers, and partners.  If an organization exhibits a high degree of purpose in its mission and objectives—taking a stand to benefit society—there is a an excellent likelihood that employees will more easily demonstrate meaning in their roles at work, become engaged, while adding to their sense of purpose in life as well. (Pontefract, D. (2017, January 09). Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Says The Business Of Business Is Improving The State Of The World. Retrieved November 19, 2017, from https://goo.gl/pbBnTK​)

Before joining Pledge 1%, we were giving financial support to a number of organizations that our team members were already working with or supporting.  Since joining Pledge 1%, we’ve been able to simply structure our programs to give 1% of profit, time, and product to benefit society.  Formally we have launched this program as Pandas Helping People.

Britnee Laughlin, the Talent Manager at PandaDoc, has said regarding joining Pledge 1% and establishing the Pandas Helping People program, “While talking with prospective employees from diverse backgrounds across multiple geographies, we received questions all the time about our focus on giving back.  It’s so great now to be able to share specific details about our corporate giving program with applicants, and our membership in Pledge 1%.  Speaking about our giving and core values to applicants has allowed me to have much deeper and personal conversations, and  get to know them better.”

Although PandaDoc is a recent addition as a Pledge1% partner, our focus is continuing to grow and ensure that the core business has increased success, the messaging is aligned with the needs of stakeholders, and genuinely impactful moments will be experienced together. Over the next few months, we will be launching programs to engage with our partners in experience-driven ways, while supporting some incredibly meaningful causes. We are extremely optimistic about the future and are humbled and honored to be supporting our employees, partners, investors, and customers through giving back.