The following is a conversation between Amy Lesnik, President and CEO of Pledge 1%, and Denver Frederick, the Host of The Business of Giving.

Denver: Pledge 1% is a global movement that inspires, educates and empowers every entrepreneur, company and employee to be a force for good. Thousands of members in countries across the globe have used Pledge 1%’s flexible framework to ignite billions of dollars in new philanthropy. And here to tell us how it works and the impact it’s having is Amy Lesnik, the President and CEO of Pledge 1%. Welcome to The Business of Giving, Amy. 

Amy Lesnik, the President and CEO of Pledge 1%

Amy: Thanks, Denver. I’m so excited to be here. Really appreciate the opportunity to chat with you today. 

Denver: Great to have you here. You notice how cleverly I mentioned in the introduction, thousands of members in countries across the globe who have pledged billions of dollars… didn’t use any numbers because they would have probably been outdated, and your first response would have been to correct me, but we’ll get to those numbers a little bit later on. Amy, tell me where this idea came from, this idea of Pledge 1%. 

Amy: Yes. So the Pledge 1% movement was originally inspired by a model that Marc Benioff created when he founded Salesforce. So, Mark created a model which was called the 1-1-1 model. So, in early Salesforce days, he committed 1% of equity when equity wasn’t worth anything, 1% of product before they even built a product, 1% of time before there were even employees to give time. And the idea was to set this aspirational goal that would really create a vision for the kind of company that he wanted to build, a company that would be a business as a force for good, and the kind of talent he wanted to attract which would be people who wanted to work for a company that had that goal and that was values-aligned. 

And then fast forward a number of years, similarly, when Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes founded Atlassian, they also embedded those core values and those core ideas, and they added another pillar which was 1% of profit that they added to it, and also committed very strongly and early on, that this would be a core part of Atlassian’s core culture. So, in a combination of Marc and Suzanne DiBianca from Salesforce, along with the founders of Atlassian as well as founders of Techstars and a number of notable VC leaders like Ron Conway came together, I’d say in 2015, to really see if we could make a movement out of this. And the idea was really to create a movement that would inspire, educate and empower every company and every entrepreneur to be a force for good. 

So, Pledge 1% really provides a flexible framework for companies to think about how to leverage their time and their product and their equity and their profit. But beyond that, Pledge 1% really works with companies to help them think about what’s unique to them. What are their own strengths? Whether that’s their influence, their ecosystem– like their partners and customers and employees– their voice, and how they can really leverage those to tackle some of the toughest challenges of our time and really serve their local communities.

And the real magic comes in when these different pledge types are really layered together, when you’ve got some amazing product technology that’s coupled with the employee skills and know-how and consulting that could be offered, along with some funds to really sustainably fund this for the long haul.

So, Pledge 1%, as you said, we’re now 15,000 companies in a hundred countries, but really we’re a force multiplier by continuing core to our vision of really inspiring and educating and empowering these companies. 

Denver: Okay, 15,000. If I was going to be the 15,001st, do I have to sign on for all four of these things – profit, product, equity and time, or can I just do two of them or three of them?

Amy: Yeah, it’s a flexible framework. So you can sign on for whatever you want, Denver. And often, we work with companies from two guys and girls in a garage, all the way through to some of the hottest IPO’s and the biggest companies out there. And so what you’re going to do, when you’re two guys and girls in a garage is different than when you’re 50 or 500 or 5,000, and we’re here along your journey.

And often, that means starting simple with what feels good to you and then really growing it which could be adding more pledge types, or it might be changing the nature of what you do. For a time, pledge is going to look very different when you’re small than when you’re a much bigger company.

Denver: After these companies sign up and pledge 1%, do they report to you or to the organization in terms of meeting that commitment?

Amy: We actually see ourselves as the coach, and they think of us as your personal fitness trainer. What are you doing this weekend? If you ate a brownie, no problem, but what are you doing next week to kind of raise the bar? Not meant to be your big brother, but we are here to keep it real, to help you have a framework, to hold yourself accountable, and to really kind of educate and empower you to actually live up to your own pledge.

Denver: You know, you have a lot of interesting initiatives, and one of them you started a while back with something called “boardroom allies.” What’s that about? 

Amy: Yeah. So, “boardroom allies”  is related to the equity pledge. So maybe I’ll just take a step back and explain that a little bit. So, what we realized was that a lot of companies increasingly are thinking about not just: how do they do these pledges or: how do they give back, but: how are they… especially kind of as ESG is becoming more and more mainstream… how are they going to set up the structure to really fund this, fund their social impact and fund their ESG initiatives for the long haul to really put their money where their mouth is?

And so, what we realized was that the equity pledge– and by equity in the context of this conversation, I’m talking about stock equity although we do a lot of work around DNI efforts, but for these purposes, it’s stock. So, the idea was setting aside 1% of equity to fund your social impact efforts. And we realized that a lot of early stage companies thought, “Oh, this is something really for late-stage companies. We just need to get funding and survive.” And a lot of late-stage companies said, “Oh, gosh. I wish this was something I had done when we founded the company. Now, how can I go to my board, like months before my IPO, and ask them to set aside what could be hundreds of millions of dollars for social impact?”

And so, what we realized was that if we really wanted to transform this, we needed to develop some standards, and we needed to develop some models that worked for different companies in different sizes… and it worked for their boards and investors and whatnot. 

And so, through that effort, we formed a coalition of companies, of CEOs and VCs to help us build some standards and models, and we issued in 2020, our first CEO playbook, and we actually even created a companion guide for the CFOs and GCs to literally getting down to the nitty gritty of how you do this. 

And in the playbook, we talked about the concept of boardroom ally. I would say, with like a small “B,”  small “A,”  and the idea was that one of the best practices that our CEOs recommended to other late-stage CEOs was that they find the person on their board who’s most likely to support this and leverage them as a boardroom ally. Talk about why this is important, not do the right thing and smart thing to do for the business. Talk about the various models and what would work best for them, given at their stage and their board composition. And then, work with,  partner with that boardroom ally to individually meet with the other boardroom members and to get… to really build a coalition of support. 

And what we realized was we spent a lot of time with our CEOs helping them to identify and understand who their likely boardroom ally was going to be by doing some board mapping. And then we also realized that as soon as someone, kind of, was on board and had the light turned on inside of them, like they actually helped their company make this happen, they were so excited that they were coming to us and saying, “Oh, we want you to pledge 1% to help my other portfolio members do this as well.”

And so, so with that, with those two forces coming together, we realized this is a perfect time to launch a more formalized program called Boardroom Allies. And our boardroom allies are individual VCs from amazing firms– Excel and Benchmark and Bessemer Battery, really who have committed to being that first call. It’s a published list. I mean, this is, Meyer said, “We believe in this, we believe that this is not just the right thing; it’s a smart thing to do for our companies. We believe that it is an important part of IPO readiness, and we are committed to helping our portfolio CEOs to set aside equity, prior to their exits.”  And to being that strategic partner for the CEOs as they strive to make this happen, and together we’re working with our boardroom allies; we committed to ignite $5 billion in five years. But we actually launched this in 2020, and we’ve already ignited $2 billion. 

Denver: Hey, you’re on your way.

Amy: By last year. 

Denver: You’re right on track.

Amy: Another billion even since we launched the Boardroom Allies program in July, by the end of last year, we ignited a billion dollars of new philanthropy. So, I think that this is just a very self-perpetuating thing in a great way. And I think that there’s been an incredible drumbeat of some of the hottest companies of last year, whether it’s Toast or Airbnb or UiPath or Olo or DigitalOcean. Just Toast, like a lot of amazing companies that are doing this and really laying the groundwork for other companies that are following.

“That’s one more reason to grow a movement. It’s a vibrant community of practice. It’s completely open-source. It’s growing and building every day. You could be out there doing something on your own, but if you have the ability to contribute to others, it’s really a force multiplier.”

Denver: I looked at the list. It truly is remarkable. And just as you were talking, I’m thinking there’s nothing in the world like having champions; they make all the difference in the world. But let’s say I’m a company again, and I’m already giving back. What would you tell me, Amy, are some of the benefits of pledging 1%?

Amy: I think that there’s two different ways to answer that, Denver. I think that some companies are doing a lot of little things. We have companies come to us that are super excited to join the movement because they might be doing a lot of different things throughout their whole company, and they don’t really have a unified way of talking about it to their employees or to their other stakeholders and really saying like “Here’s our whole program; we’re actually doing a lot more than we realize we were doing.” Or then we talk about what we’re doing because it’s all coming out of different areas in different ways, and we don’t consider this all to be our, you know, very deliberate, aligned with our values, social impact or ESG approach.  And so, I think for those companies, we provide a great framework and a way of unifying a lot of what they’re doing already, and providing some benchmarking and structure for where they might be going as well as potentially helping them think through how they’re going to fund this for the long haul.

I think for other companies, they are really passionate about, not just the direct impact that they can have through their own philanthropy, but what they  can do to inspire, educate and empower others. So, we find a lot of companies, and a lot of companies are what we call builders in the Pledge 1% movement, whether that’s DocuSign, Twilio, and SurveyMonkey, now Momentive, and whatnot, Crunchbase. They’re all amazing companies that care a lot,  Salesforce and Alessia, not just about what they’re doing, but how they are leveraging what they’re learning to really educate and inspire and empower others.

And so, that’s one more reason to grow a movement. It’s a vibrant community of practice. It’s completely open-source. It’s growing and building every day. And so, you could be out there doing something on your own, but if you have the ability to contribute to others, it’s really a force multiplier, and vice versa. There’s a lot of best practices and things being tackled all the time that you could be learning from or that your social impact leader could be learning from rather than them being kind of on their own figuring it out. 

Denver: Yeah, and I would imagine it’s probably a pretty good tool for attracting talent, particularly young talent, right?

Amy: Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, when you think about how important this is to employees today, I think that for companies to be able to reinforce that they’re part of this movement, that they really firmly believe in aligning with their values and giving back and making a difference, it’s paramount, especially in this time of the Great Resignation. I could go into that a lot more if… 

Denver: I’m sure you could. Yeah, let’s circle back a little bit because you started to talk about this, the Pledge 1% community, which I think got launched sometime last October. And, among that, the things that that community gets is you’ve created these playbooks. What kind of playbooks are they? What’s in those playbooks? How are they being utilized and deployed?

Amy: Yeah. So, we’ve always had a community. We’ve always had resources, but our members were really asking us for more robust playbooks that included a lot of great best practices and examples from different companies, and that actually talked to what different companies of different stages and sizes could be doing. And we also heard a lot about companies having a hard time getting started. Like, I think that we spend less time explaining why companies should join the movement quite frankly right now. I think companies are getting that more and more, and more about:  Well, How? How do they turn their pledge into action, and what makes sense for them for what size and stage they are? 

So the community platform was launched really as a vehicle for members to connect with one another, to share best practices, to ask questions, and actually access these resources. Some of the resources are regular programming that we do all the time on top topics, whether that’s ESG or DNI and social justice, and other issues like that…. virtual volunteerism. Some of them are playbooks on our core areas like product and equity and time pledge and how those are being done in different ways at different companies and how you might think about developing your own programs. We developed a playbook on getting started, which we’re having a bit of a hard time getting started, so it could be daunting. 

And then we’ve also developed playbooks on, like two years ago, we developed a playbook on virtual volunteerism when the face of volunteerism was totally changing. I think, 2021, it was changing and everybody was in lockdown and remote. So, we needed to engage our employees anyway. And two, I think in the past, volunteerism used to be giving your time to a non-profit, and put the overlay of what’s gone on in the last years, really giving back your time has extended to: it could be supporting a teacher and taking their class online. It could be getting involved in more civic engagement activities and providing people a way to get out to vote, of course, in a non-partisan way. It could be around helping underserved or marginalized communities or entrepreneurs directly learn important skills, or leverage technology. 

And so what it means to volunteer is completely different, and how companies engage their employees and volunteering is completely different. And so we developed playbooks on those fronts and continue to basically stay really relevant on top topics… and bring that together, and that’s another advantage of what I was talking about with our boards,builders and our companies that are really the leaders in the movement is that they are constantly leveraging their best practices and what they’ve learned– to share that with the broader movement and really help them and to learn and to really be educated and empowered to make things happen.

Denver: Yeah, it’s very interesting what you say there because I do believe that the sectors had very narrow definitions of everything. Philanthropy has been very narrowly defined. Volunteerism has been very narrowly defined, but now you’re seeing –whether it be giving circles or mutual aid societies and everything in between– the definition of these terms in this sector is getting much, much broader and much, much more creative and much more inclusive, and what you cited there is just another example of that. 

So when you’re sitting down with people, do you ever run into conversations about, Okay, you’ve got Pledge 1%. You’ve got the Founders Pledge. You got the Giving Pledge. I mean, I know how you’re different and distinct, but I mean, if you’re the head of a company, are you saying, Hey, I’m getting approached from a couple of different places at a time?  Or how, how do you sort of look at the different pledges that are going on right now?. 

Amy: Yeah, I think it can be confusing. The two other pledges that you mentioned, Founders Pledge and Giving Pledge, are much more geared toward an individual. So, they’re all complementary. We’re really the only movement that’s out there that’s helping companies to think through how are they leveraging all of their assets, not just money, but all of their assets, to really be a force for good.

And so, what’s different about us is, we’re companies, we’re not individuals, although obviously we’re a movement.  We’re made up of people, but we’re focused on helping that company think through how are they leveraging their assets. Another thing that’s different about us is, some organizations are out there just focusing on very, very, very large public companies and helping them kind of think through this. We work with companies of all sizes and stages and really work, as I mentioned, two guys and a girl in a garage all the way through to public, although we tend to have a sweet spot really in companies that are a couple of years before their IPO through maybe like five to 10 years afterwards. 

And it’s a time when there’s a lot of companies that are about to create like a lot of value, that have huge potential for impact, and how can we help them to navigate that and to understand and to kind of have the network and support systems around them to do it in a meaningful way.

So, I think that the fact that we’re corporate, the fact that we work on all pledge types, not just money, and the fact that we work with companies of all different sizes, really makes us different from a lot of the other pledge types that are out there. 

“This is like a business imperative right now, is thinking about: How are you building your culture and building your values and actually integrating these programs into your company? And how are you creating, how are you committing to a framework like Pledge 1%, or leveraging Pledge 1% to help you commit the funding that will enable you to sustainably fund it?”

Denver: What have you observed, Amy, in terms of the impact of Pledge 1% on the corporate culture of an organization who takes this pledge?

Amy: Yeah. I think that we kind of alluded to this earlier, but I think, we think about core trends that are happening this year or big disruptions that have happened. And I think, there’s five that come to mind, but I’m going to go talk about two, like really right now. First of all, the nature of work has completely changed, as has the whole employee/employer relationship.  And we’re all very familiar with the Great Resignation and, just the magnitude of resignations that have happened– over 40% attrition rate and 19 million people switching jobs– and I think there are stats like: while 50% of all employees are open to leaving their company for new roles, this drops to less than 12% if they believe that their company is having a positive impact on the world. 

So I think that right now, as companies are thinking about their culture and thinking about it, not just as this is the right thing to do because we all just went through the last two years, and we understand that companies have an important role to play in tackling the toughest issues of our time, but it’s also the smart thing to do. I mean, companies are… they need to attract and retain great talent. This is like one of the most important risks they need to mitigate if they’re thinking about how to be a successful company. And so, this is not just a nice-to-have. This is like a business imperative right now, is thinking about: How are you building your culture and building your values and actually integrating these programs into your company?  And how are you creating, how are you committing to a framework like Pledge 1%, or leveraging Pledge 1% to help you commit the funding that will enable you to sustainably fund it?

So I think that is an important part of the culture. And then I think also, ESG is totally mainstreamed right now. And I think that, as companies are striving to really think about and make sense of it all, that they understand that this is not going away. And thinking about: How are they leveraging their products and their time and their funding to really support these ESG efforts, whether that be climate, whether that be equity and diversity issues?  Whether that be whatever strategic issue that they’re focused on– whether it’s hunger or financial inclusion or what not is really important. 

And that’s also very much embedded into their core, it’s into their culture and its internal practices as well as external efforts that they’re doing, and it’s something that’s becoming more and more transparent and more and more visible. And so, if they want to authentically reinforce this message, not just to employees but to others, thinking through how they’re embedding this and doing it in a kind of rigorous way, I think is important. And also, a lot of funds… Basically, it’s just being part of Pledge 1% is just inspiring and empowering. So…

Denver: I can gather. Yeah. No, you’re absolutely right. You know, I remember the days when CSR was always in the corner office, and you would prod it out periodically. And now it’s embedded, and it’s right at the senior table, right at the board table. It’s one of the most important issues that all companies are dealing with. 

How have some of them been able to embrace and get their arms around the distribution with these funds? As you say, they’re giving 1% of a product and of time and of profit and of equity, and that can grow pretty much and pretty quickly. How have they done on the other end in terms of deploying that capital in ways that optimize what they want to achieve?

Amy: Yeah. What I love about Pledge 1% and a lot of our companies is they tackle their giving and their impact in the same way that they think about  their company. So, I think that they think about: Where’s the greatest need and what are we uniquely suited to do? They think about: How do we best leverage, not just our money, but also our product and our ecosystem and our influence to have the greatest impact that we can have? 

And often it means: What can we pilot, as we would, in our core business and see how it’s working and then take it to scale or pivot accordingly if it’s not working? And so, for a lot of the companies that we work with, they’re really just beginning to come into these… they set aside 1% of equity. They, now are looking at potential.  If their stock goes up to kind of have, tens, if not, hundreds of millions of dollars to give, and it’s not, we’re seeing kind of, more of an arc of, you know, not like, “Hey, let’s just throw the money out the door as soon as possible.” It’s really more on: let’s bring on the right leader to really think strategically about how we can have the greatest impact here. Let’s start to kind of build up to piloting some things and seeing what really makes sense, and then let’s think about:  how do we scale those efforts.”  

And so, I think that we’ve got… and how is it aligned? So you’ve got like DocuSign which has a signature program around DocuSign for forests, which their core business has already replaced 20 billion sheets of paper and preserved 2.5 million trees and 2.5 billion gallons of water. And so, they’re very much aligned in terms of their employee engagement and the philanthropic work they do around  this concept of their core essence and how they are saving trees. How are they saving forests? 

We’ve got Twilio which is very much focused on: How do they connect people in acute crisis with the help they need, something that probably for the last two years was needed, even more than before? 

Denver: Yeah, for sure. 

Amy: And so, when you think of their platform, the customers that they work with, and they have over 500 non-profits that are using like the Twilio platform, and it’s either on issues of addiction or sexual abuse, or refugee displacement, mental health emergencies, and natural disasters. And just naming those, you could see how many of those were just completely exasperated in the last two years. Disasters and health needs, actually all of them went up astronomically. 

So, they have been able to leverage their technology, leverage their talent to help support the non-profits in leveraging that technology. They have been able to give direct grants to support that, and it’s really that magic that I said; it’s not just about throwing money out the door.  And they can have so much more value by leveraging their technology and helping those various non-profits to use that technology in meaningful ways to really scale their impact that has been really great. 

Toast is doing a lot of amazing things around food and working with their customers, on that front. New Relic has basically done a lot with data and being a terrific observation platform to help companies to better understand our non-profits, which aren’t necessarily tech savvy to better understand their data and to be more efficient. PagerDuty has done a lot with their ability to track emergency responses and help health issues as well as democracy issues. 

So I think, Octa is taking a broader approach to the mass digitization that happened over the last two years has been great for companies but actually, like, has really exasperated the digital divide both on an individual basis as well as non-profits that don’t have the technology that they need or expertise that they need to really serve their constituencies  in this world. And so, they’ve taken a broader approach to: How do we really think about the impact that this acceleration of digitization has had on non-profits and individuals, and how do we solve that? 

So, I love that they’re all really leveraging, again, what they’re uniquely suited to do and how they’re uniquely suited to do it, and  we really urge people not to look at just the money out the door, but the actual impact that companies are having as they live and ramp up to have impact. 

Denver: Yeah. Sure. Well, they all have a core competency, and they’re using that core competency which makes them unique and distinctive. The other thing I’ve always been excited about this endeavor is that philanthropic capital is the risk capital of society, and it is the place where you should be taking chances. But, having spent my entire life in the sector, I don’t think we take enough risks. Very conservative. 

But I would think that people coming from this world, and starting companies, they kind of have that risk gene and are willing and accept failure, let’s say, a lot more willingly. They avoid it at all costs, mind you, and they’re very rigorous about it, but to really make big changes, you have to take some risks, and I’m hoping that brings that a little bit more to the sector because the sector is a little bit… they talk about it, but they don’t do it as much as I think that they would like. 

Denver: Amy, let me ask you about innovation. Pledge 1% was named by Fast Company as one of the most innovative nonprofit organizations in the country, if not the world. And I know that you co-founded and instructed at UC Berkeley Haas School. Of course, I think it was based on your Full Circle Funds innovative model, where you had worked previously. What would be a few of your top takeaways for listeners about innovation in the social sector that they can maybe take back to their own organizations?

Amy: Thanks, Denver. I want to kind of point back to a lot of what we were talking about before, about thinking about where the needs are and what you’re uniquely suited to do. And I think that, what I love about a lot of Pledge 1 companies is this approach I’m thinking about. I totally agree with what you said what philanthropy used to be, or corporate CSR used to be, kind of like: wait until you’re successful, and then give back and it’s typically on the side. There’s someone over there who is, like, developing grants, or maybe like organizing some interesting volunteer programs. 

And  the whole movement of Pledge 1% and really how we were started was this idea of not at the end, but really at the beginning, not on the side, but in your core DNA. And when you put it into your core DNA, and your employees really feel empowered and are co-creating: what is the impact you could have, innovation just bubbles up and happens. And I think that there are so many really interesting ways of thinking about what are the greatest challenges out there, and what are you uniquely suited to serve that are so innovative at every company’s level. 

I think, Postmates, early on realized: Wow! They’ve worked with all these restaurants, and all these restaurants have food waste at the end of the day. They also happen to have this great technology platform that connects the restaurants with couriers that can carry them and couriers that can be dispatched to actually take the food someplace.

 And so they developed a program called Food Fighters, which they piloted and then scaled prior to their acquisition, and it was delivering thousands, if not, hundreds of thousands of tons of food that they started in a couple of markets, and then were taking to other markets. And this is a great example of an innovation. They leveraged their time pledge to really work with their employees, to think about how do we actually build this program. How do we market it to our restaurants that we work with? How do we give our companies, from a product standpoint, the ability to turn a flag on or off in their product to show that they have food that could be picked up and delivered? How do they, potentially, from a marketing perspective, display that so a consumer would know that that company is participating in this program? 

So that is a great innovation. I think, similarly, Yelp leveraged their product and put a tag on black entrepreneurs or women entrepreneurs. So that, one, this was a great way of really elevating and giving the opportunity for those who want it to be showcased and identified that way to kind of get extra visibility, and also really empowering consumers who potentially wanted to feel like in everything that they’re doing, that they’re supporting these entrepreneurs to actually easily choose that way and to do that. And that is an innovative way to use your product, or your employee time or what not. 

And I feel like these innovations are happening all the time if you really bake it into your core. You leverage your employees to come up with these ideas, and you really maybe shift from the power of me to the power of we, which is a shift in the sector, right? You know, it’s not just about me and: what am I doing? It’s about: Wow, how can I really engage my whole ecosystem? 

Salesforce has done amazing things in really engaging their partner network or their ventures portfolio and empowering them to make a difference. And I think that, we see that more and more, and I think that, that in and of itself is innovative, but it sparks this incredible ripple effect of innovation. 

“I do think it’s important as companies are thinking more and more about ESG, and they’re thinking about how are they engaging their employees in this crazy world of resignation and attrition, thinking about how you’re going to sustainably fund these efforts for the long term is very, very important. And partnering with Pledge 1%, I think, to make that happen… our whole reason for being is to inspire, educate, and empower.”

Denver: As you say, it doesn’t come from the office of innovation anymore. Everybody is an innovator, and you see it, you observe it, and it bubbles up. You know, you have so many things going on at the moment. Is there anything, maybe something we haven’t discussed yet that you are particularly excited about?

Amy: I just maybe wanted to shift back a little bit to the Boardroom Allies and the work that we’re doing around equity. And, just sharing a little bit of my personal journey, I’ve had the great fortune of spending one foot in tech and one in social change. And I was early Netscape and worked in Indiegogo, and formerly, as you mentioned, when I was over there at Berkeley was the CEO of Full Circle Fund.

And, I think that in my early days at Netscape, I used to explain that the internet isn’t going away. And, we can all get a good chuckle over that right now because it seems so obvious. We don’t have to tell someone that they need a website, and we don’t have to tell someone that they need to use email or that web-based email is more convenient. But I had to explain that. It was something that had to change, and I think that, we think about equity and we think about that journey. I want to see setting aside equity to fund your social impact or fund your ESG initiatives to be as common as setting it aside for your employee pool.

Like five years from now, we just don’t even need to talk about it. It’s just such the norm of what is happening. And, I’m really excited that we’ve got this fantastic coalition of CEOs and VCs and exchanges and things that are kind of working to really beat the drum beat and make this happen. And for every company that does this, they’re really setting the bar and inspiring others. 

But, I do think it’s important as companies are thinking more and more about ESG, and they’re thinking about how are they engaging their employees in this crazy world of resignation and attrition, thinking about how you’re going to sustainably fund these efforts for the long term is very, very important. And partnering with Pledge 1%, I think, to make that happen…our whole reason for being is to inspire, educate, and empower. And so, we’d love to hear about pain points because then we work together to kind of overcome them, and the field is constantly, constantly changing.

And so, I would say, I think that this is a place, not only are we sparking billions and billions of dollars of new philanthropy, we’re really changing the norm which is very, very exciting. And then, I think the other part of what we do, and we talked more about our general membership of the platform, but we also work a lot with top companies. Sometimes being a social impact leader of a top company is a very demanding and isolating role. And, we found that there was a real gap there. There was no one really bringing those folks together, sharing best practices, holding the space in this constantly changing world that we live in, especially over the last couple of years.

And so, Pledge 1% has played an important role in bringing together these thought leaders, taking on whatever new challenges they’re facing, sharing best practices, and really creating this vibrant community of practice. And so, it’s about igniting the philanthropy, but then it’s also about really helping, educating, inspiring and empowering companies to think about how to use it… and not just themselves, but how are they empowering their ecosystem, their customers, their partners, their employees, even their VCs, to think about how they’re joining with them to make an impact. And then, I think that, then the really fun stuff starts when they start to work together, and they collaborate on impact and we start really taking on some of the SDGs and the tough issues of our time and thinking about how do we combine those all together and really knock some of these out. 

So, I think lots of potential and hopefully we’ll have a chuckle like  where we won’t even need to talk about why do companies need to do this? It will just be how companies are. 

Denver: Absolutely. You know, I think that is so brilliant because progress happens when you change the default settings. And when the default setting is: you’re going to do this, and you have to explain why you’re not going to do it as opposed to I’m going to do it, everything changes. I think that’s happened with organ donations in Australia and places like that. When the default says you do it, people just do it. It’s behavioral economics  basics. 

Tell us about the Pledge 1% website. Some of the information visitors will find on it and how they can get their company maybe involved if they should be so inclined to do so.

Amy: Yeah. So the Pledge 1% website is just  Our community is actually open. So, I would say that a lot of these resources we talked about are available, so really encourage folks to check out our community. Also check out our blog. You’ll find out not just information from us, but a lot of amazing impact stories and tips from other companies. And taking the pledge is really simple. Literally you can do it on your phone. It takes 30 seconds. You need to be either C-level or founder or someone who is an executive at your company to actually speak for your company because we are a corporate movement and take the pledge. And then you’re off to the resources. We have resources for companies of all sizes to help them to get started, to turn their pledge into action. And, I’m very much interested in hearing stories and best practices of others. 

We are a movement. Movement is about people, and great ideas can come from anywhere. So, we love to elevate the stories and successes of others and, yeah, taking the pledge is super simple. So, we’d love to invite everyone out there to join the movement and see how we can help you and how you can help build this greater movement of impact.

Denver: Well, thanks, Amy, for being here today and for a wonderful conversation. It was a delight to have you on the program. 

Amy: Great. Thank you so much, Denver, and I really look forward to continuing our dialogue. I think there’s so much potential here, and I’m really thrilled that we can be part of it today.

Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving serves as a Strategic Advisor and Executive Coach to NGO and Nonprofit CEOs and Board Chairs. His Book, The Business of Giving: The Non-Profit Leaders Guide to Transform Leadership, Philanthropy, and Organizational Success in a Changed World, will be released in the spring of 2022.

Listen to more The Business of Giving episodes for free here. Subscribe to our podcast channel on Spotify to get notified of new episodes. You can also follow us on TwitterInstagram, and on Facebook.

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