Legacy Blog

Should a startup integrate philanthropy from the beginning? Benioff says yes!

One of the most important things I’ve learned in life is that you should always seek the advice of those who know more than you. And I discovered that there are two ways to do this: talk to people that you can reach and read the biographies of people you can not reach.
These days I am reading Behind the Cloud, the story of Salesforce told by its founder Marc Benioff. I think it should be compulsory reading for all entrepreneurs who, like me, are setting up a company that sells software as a service. So far, the part that I liked the most is Benioff’ approach to philanthropy. I quote a passage:

Parker, Dave and Frank, the salesforce.com cofounders, were receptive to the idea of building a business that simultaneously gave back to the community. We all shared the philosophy that the value of a corporation should be distributed not only to its leadership but also to the communities in which it operates and to the world. We discussed these ideas in our first day of work, and filed the Salesforce Foundation as a 501(c)(3) public charity at the same time that we incorporated salesforce.com […]

From its inception, the Salesforce Foundation used a unique model of integrated philanthropy, one designed to grow with the company. Our 1-1-1 model disseminates a portion of the financial and intellectual wealth of the organization to those most in need:

  • 1 percent equity: using 1 percent of founding stock to offer grants and monetary assistance to those in need, especially to support youth and technology programs,
  • 1 percent time: finding meaningful activities for salesforce.com employees during their six paid days off a year devoted to volunteerism, and promoting culture of caring,
  • 1 percent product: facilitating the donation of salesforce.com subscriptions to no-profits, helping them increase their operating effectiveness and focus more resources on their core mission.

I totally agree with this approach and would love to adopt this philosophy for Stamplay, although I realize that is not easy to reconcile startup and philanthropy.