Talk about a great start to the new year! We are humbled to share that our Atlassian Foundation has now generated more than $3 million in donations to our partner charity Room to Read, a global nonprofit dedicated to improving literacy and gender equality in education for children across Asia and Africa. This great news comes on the heels of our recent trip to Cambodia where we sent a team of 11 Atlassians (along with Room to Read) to gain first-hand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities of educating this generation of school children (read the full series here).
Not only did this trip confirm that our donations have a very real impact, but it also gave us a chance to meet some of the girls we’ve helped and understand on a very human level how our donations have changed the course of their lives.
Educating over 170,000 children in Cambodia – $10 at time
When our co-Founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar started Atlassian in 2002, they aspired to create a socially responsible company that cared for the communities it existed within, as well as communities in need. We adopted a “1% model” where 1% of profits, 1% of employee time and 1% of equity are donated to our Atlassian Foundation. It was an easy decision to make since “giving away 1% of basically nothing at the time was a no-brainer,” according to Scott. But after reading John Wood’s book Leaving Microsoft to Change The World, we were awed and inspired to get involved with his new charity, Room to Read.
In 2009, we used our unique business model to create what we call “causium marketing” – a combination of freemium and cause marketing – to simultaneously raise money for charity while giving startups and small teams affordable access to our kick-ass software. We raised more than $100,000 in the first five days and we haven’t stopped since. We tweaked our efforts with our Starter License program so that new users can purchase our products for $10 for 10 users. All the monies continue to go to Room to Read’s efforts in Asia, primarily in Cambodia.
As of 2013, Atlassian and Room to Read have given more than 170,000 children access to quality educational opportunities. Our donations have established 238 libraries, constructed or renovated 13 schools, published 13 new local language children’s titles, and supported 1,480 young women towards completion of secondary school, giving them the support they need to succeed. Most graduates have been able to choose their own career path, with students choosing to pursue jobs in rural development, teaching, accounting, and health care. These young women have become role models for young children and for local villagers, and are continuing to grow in their confidence and self-esteem.
We were also instrumental in Room to Read’s launch of a new, in-classroom Reading and Writing Instruction program in Cambodia to help young children become independent readers.
So what’s next?
While we’re proud of the impact our donations have made thus far, we want to do more. We have an even loftier goal this year to help 250,000 children by December 2014 by raising at least $750,000 through our Starter License program. In addition, our employees have taken it upon themselves to raise an additional $75,000 to support girls’ education in Cambodia. This is a reflection of how personally invested our employees are in furthering Room to Read’s mission.
We’re continuing to grow our Starter License customer base, and will be running a number of targeted fundraising initiatives throughout the year, such as our current HipChat emoticon auction. Stay tuned for more Foundation related announcements throughout the year…
You can also get involved and make donations to Room to Read here: http://www.roomtoread.org/GetInvolved