As originally published on Zylo.com

At Zylo, we believe that community is a pillar to the success of any endeavor.

For us, the concept of community takes many different shapes. From your local neighborhood or a city that actively supports new businesses; to friends and family who lend support; to the guidance of investors and experienced entrepreneurs who help new companies get established; or simply the sense of shared camaraderie within an organization created by a shared vision, the idea of community comes in many forms.

But a common feature is that when companies weave a community focus into their culture early, the impact can be awesome. Because when viewed in this lens, the company’s success translates to the community’s success. For example, in the last four years, companies in the High Alpha portfolio (of which Zylo is a member) have created hundreds of new jobs.

Zylo Pledges to Give Back

In Zylo’s early days, we learned quickly that it’s nearly impossible to achieve success in any form without the support of our community, so we’re proud to take the opportunity to give back.

That’s one reason we’re thrilled to announce that Zylo is partnering with Pledge 1% to maximize support of nonprofits in the Indianapolis community and beyond. Pledge 1% invites participating companies to pledge to share at least 1 percent of their equity, profit, products, and/or employee time with their communities.

Tech’s Impact on the Community

To celebrate Zylo’s commitment to Pledge 1%, we hosted an event at Zylo headquarters to discuss the impact that technology-focused companies can make on their communities.

The event included a panel discussion featuring Byron Deeter from Bessemer Venture Partners, Sara VanSlambrook, Chief Impact Officer of United Way of Central Indiana, and Chris Barbin, from GGV Capital. The session was moderated by Gerry Dick from Inside Indiana Business and the event was made possible by Silicon Valley Bank.

Tech Companies Uniquely Positioned to Give Back Early

A central theme that emerged from the panel conversation was that emerging technology companies represent a new form of corporate philanthropy, one that’s driven both by an entrepreneurial spirit and direct employee activism.

This trend stems in part from the strong focus on culture that tech companies cultivate. Tech company leaders are more actively, directly involved in shaping their company’s culture and identity, making them more likely to undertake charitable initiatives. But it’s not just leadership motivating this focus on philanthropic endeavors.

Employees are influencing organizational change through individual leadership and promotion of worthy causes they believe in. And with strong competition for talent, authentic and demonstrable philanthropic initiatives create a symbiotic advantage for companies and employees. Simply put, employees want to work for companies that align with their values and create positive impacts in their communities.

Understanding the Opportunity to Impact Our Community

Following the conversation with our panel, we had the opportunity to see what’s at stake firsthand. Unfortunately, every year, more families in our community in Central Indiana cross the threshold into poverty and need, or come much closer to it. To gain a more understanding, empathy, and context of this need, the United Way of Central Indiana led Zylo employees and assembled guests in a poverty simulation.

For many families and individuals in our community, the risk of poverty is one missed paycheck or a difficult life event away. Getting a better understanding of this scenario underscored the opportunity we have to make an impact in our community.

The Commitment Starts Now

It’s one thing to pledge your commitment, another to follow through. We capped the day by following through on our commitment by investing some old-fashioned sweat equity in our community.

With the help from the United Way of Central Indiana’s volunteer coordination, Zylo volunteers converged at Flanner House, a local non-profit focused on programs that provide education, social resources, and food equality.

Their mission is to support, advocate for, and empower individuals, children, and families by applying educational, social, and economic resources that move members of the community towards stabilization, and self-sufficiency. We’re proud to contribute to that mission and benefit the Indianapolis community.

And we’re also thankful for that fact that organizations like United Way of Central Indiana to partner with. Without their help connecting and coordinating volunteers to the opportunities that have the most effective impact and outcomes, many companies would miss the chance to give back.

Throughout the afternoon, more than four dozen volunteers including Zylo employees and event guests helped Flanner House prepare their annual produce crop for families in need by weeding and renewing garden beds and landscaping throughout the grounds.

It’s Never Too Early to Give Back

For any organization, it’s never too early to start building community involvement into the DNA of your company. Whether you look at it through the lens of your local neighborhood, your professional community, or the community formed by like-minded companies in the technology category, we’re all direct products of our communities.

Although it feels like we’re just getting started at Zylo, we’re already creating programs that help connect employees with the opportunity to contribute to their communities.

For example, our employee referral bonus includes a traditional cash bonus for a successful referral but also includes a cash donation to a local charity of the referrer’s choice.

We’ve also similarly established a community contribution program for sales referrals, we take part in several team volunteer opportunities each year as a company, and we encourage individual employees to give back to their communities via our PVTO or personal volunteer time off policy. These policies are relatively easy to implement, but over time, their impact is tremendous.

We as a company feel it’s important to give back and reciprocate the benefits that have helped us achieve our success. If you’re able, I encourage you, your employees, and your company to contribute to your community through the Pledge 1% program, United Way, or direct involvement with a charitable organization most suited for your company’s culture.

Because all philanthropy is good philanthropy and our communities need committed partners now more than ever.