I have been influenced by Hawken, Senge, Anderson, Benioff, and Branson as my heroes in business, and I have come to believe that business has the largest role to play in addressing the world’s toughest problems, and can and must become the largest force of good on the planet. As I started working on Rally these beliefs resulted in three goals, and they have helped shape our culture and the kind of people who are attracted to working at Rally. Contrary to most people’s beliefs, shaping this culture was easy to do. It just takes steady action over time and commitment to get good at it. The benefits of social responsibility start as soon as you start giving. This post is intended to help you find ways for you personally and your company to get started.
That same year, our previous company Avitek was sold to BEA Systems and we missed a huge opportunity to discuss the community and philanthropy among ourselves and with our employees. There was some charitable giving upon the exit, but as 30-year-olds it was easy to think that we had to wait 20 more years until we got involved in charity and social problems. In 1999, Brad changed that thinking for me and really planted the seeds for what I see in his startup communities work.
Engineering CSR from the Start
Here at Rally, I made sure to find a way to build this notion of giving and social impact from the beginning. With the help of Brad Feld and Michael Platt from Cooley LLP, we set aside 1% of Rally’s founding equity to go to the Community Foundation serving Boulder County. In addition, our founding executive team -- including Tim, Jim, Don and I -- also agreed to set aside 1% of our personal Rally equity for the community.
As Rally’s stock lock-up ends this month, I want to share what is happening with our 1% donations. I hope this inspires our employees and other local firms to consider their own community and philanthropy goals. In addition, I hope that other company founders consider joining an Entrepreneurs Foundation program in their area or setting up their own corporate foundations for strategic, corporate social responsibility.
Big 1% Give Back Event
On Monday, October 7th, Rally will celebrate “The Big 1% Give Back” at our Boulder office. If you would like to come, please RSVP. At this event, Rally’s employees and investors will celebrate the donation of about $1.5 million to the Community Foundation. This donation has two major parts: one part represents our grant of 1% of our founding equity to the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO), and the other part represents the establishment of The Rally For Impact Foundation. We are excited to deliver on our founding promise to give back to the communities that have helped us thrive in Colorado, North Carolina, Washington, and overseas.
The Entrepreneurs Foundation model
The Entrepreneurs Foundation model started in Silicon Valley and we started the Colorado affiliate (EFCO) in 2007 with four other companies. EFCO has reached a tipping point in the last twelve months as our growth has increased and we have started to serve companies beyond our roots in the Boulder technology sector. At last week’s Denver Startup Week, we really cemented our reach into Denver and other industry sectors. This model represents the easiest way for companies to get started with social responsibility. Once we got started, we found that the benefits of social responsibility pulled us to do more.
Rally For Impact and Strategic CSR
Based on our work with the Entrepreneurs Foundation, I started to learn about how to take this concept further through the Entrepreneurs Foundation Corporate Citizenship event. I met the folks behind Salesforce.com’s foundation and we extended our 1% equity and 1% volunteer time approach to follow their 1/1/1 Model. Now we make Rally, Flowdock, and AgileZen freely available for students, non-profits, and Certified B Corps. The Salesforce.com Foundation discount we earned as a Certified B Corp funded much of the growth of our corporate social responsiblity over the last three years. In 2010, this led us to set aside 1% of our series D equity to create the Rally For Impact Foundation, a donor-advised fund within the Community Foundation. In 2012, we updated our corporate social mission for Rally For Impact to focus on “Creating and Mobilizing Citizen Engineers.”
All this brings me to the immediate opportunity.
I hope that past, present, and future employees of Rally will consider starting their own personal philathropy. I hope that you will consider your role as a global citizen and find a way to find back at least 1% of your gains to something you believe in.
I know that personal giving delivers ten times more than it costs financially. With your gains from Rally stock, now is the time to get started. For many individuals, there may be substantial tax benefits from donating stock.
Before you sell any or all of your Rally shares this fall, please consider sending some of the equity or proceeds to a local charity, community foundation, or the Rally For Impact fund at the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County. Join us at the Big 1% Give Back event to learn more. You can also contact your local community foundation or an accounting professional to discuss the tax implications of philanthropic giving. Please do not let this opportunity to do something slip away. This is your chance to increase your level of citizenship through more empathetic, inclusive, equitable, and sustainable actions. These are benefits you will gain for generations to come.
Ryan is the CTO and Founder at Rally and you can follow him at @RallyOn.