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There are so many ways to give back, and everything counts. So don’t wait, get out there and be the change you seek. Never volunteered with your team before? Try it! You just might start a trend at your company.

But you’ve got to make that first move.

This week we’ve heard from founders, employees, and customers. Today, let’s look at what two of our partners are doing. We’re thrilled that so many of our partners have joined the Pledge 1% movement. Just imagine the impact we can have as an ecosystem, all with a defined mission to give back and contribute to our communities and our world.

We hope these examples provide inspiration as you think about how your organization and the people in your office can team up for good. Remember: many small steps will create a giving back snowball effect. Just think what that could do!

K15t Software: define your program and take first steps

Based in Stuttgart Germany, K15t Software‘s story of setting up their giving back program could be familiar to you. The fact is, it’s tough to know how to start. Everyone at the company loved the idea, and there was real excitement about joining the Pledge 1% movement. But that excitement was quickly met with an equal amount of uncertainty. How to start? What type of program? How will it affect normal business activities? As CEO Stefan Kleineikenscheidt admits, “Pledge 1% takes some effort and attention to be introduced successfully. We decided to start small, see how things went.”

The first step was choosing a program. The team reviewed the Pledge 1% policies and decided on 1% product and 1% employee time. Product proved pretty easy. With guidance from Atlassian’s starter license model, they also decided to offer product licenses to non-profits for free. And just like that, their giving back program began.

Employee time, however, wasn’t so easy. It required additional forethought and a number of policies needed to be in place. Plus, more questions surfaced. Would everyone participate? How would they allocate the resources, and coordinate schedules? They quickly discovered that a leader who’s passionate about the program makes a big difference. “People are so focused on their jobs,” Stefan says. “They want to participate, but it’s hard to pay attention to it and make commitments. A program manager can really help.”

Employee time in action: Sarah Herrmann

But a giving back rockstar was on the team. Call her an early adopter. Once the policy (K15t Software defines employee time as 2 days per year of paid volunteer time off, which can be used as 1 full day for an individual project, and 1 full day or 2 half days for team efforts) was in place, Sarah Herrmann jumped right in. She’s passionate about bringing children closer to nature. She offered a workshop where she and a group of kids built herbariums. She also did an herb­ and flower walk where she explained all the common plants to the kids. “It’s important for me to do something voluntarily, especially for kids,” says Sarah. “Many thanks to K15t for the support of my work with an extra paid day off for voluntary work.”

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Sarah’s is a perfect example of starting off with something you’re passionate about and making a move. Remember, how you choose to volunteer your time is entirely up to you. The most important thing is to contribute. Lend your knowledge, skills, compassion, and enthusiasm to others who can benefit.

Recap: advice from K15t Software on setting up a giving back program

  1. Policies are super important. They help everyone, management and employees, set proper expectations.
  2. Make giving back a part of onboarding. Explain the system, and the value placed on it.
  3. Leaders help drive participation. A program manager to take the lead on giving back activities can help.

“We want to be an ethically and socially responsible company, and Pledge 1% and especially 1% employee time has underlined that.” – Stefan Kleineikenscheidt, CEO

Addteq: small first steps turn into a search for Einsteins

Addteq (based in Princeton, New Jersey) joined the Pledge 1% movement at Atlassian Summit in 2015. Once they made the commitment, they wasted no time getting started. They understood they needed to make a first step, and went for it.

One of their first activities was a small team-building day at a local farm. The whole team participated, and not only did they see the beauty in a different kind of giving back activity, they got to know each other better in the process. A complete win-win.

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Plus, once they got started, others took notice. The local chapter of Room to Read heard about their giving back efforts and asked if they’d consider volunteering with them.

But the most exciting aspect of Addteq’s story is that in the year since they joined the Pledge 1% movement, these smaller activities blossomed into a big initiative: The Iris Foundation. It turns out, those first team activities inspired Addteq founder Sukhbir Dhillon to do more. Because of his upbringing in India, he’s very aware of the lack of opportunity for the under privileged. And he knows what opportunities can do. That’s how the Iris Foundation was born. It’s a scholarship program at RAIT (Ramrao Adik Institute of Technology), where Sukhbir also happens to be an alumni. It’s mission is to bring out the genius in everyone, no matter their circumstances. In other words, it seeks out the Einsteins from anywhere to give them an opportunity to change the world.

“Our participation has had a real snowball effect. Now alumni at the university are offering to get involved and help contribute to The Iris Foundation, too.” – Jaclyn DePinho

It’s also important to mention that Addteq’s giving back programs have impacted the company culture in several ways. Employees have increased pride in the company mission, and the team volunteering opportunities have encouraged a unique kind of team-building that runs deeper than simply going out for a few beers. Not to mention the fact that these volunteering activities also offer a nice break from the day-to-day of office life.

When starting a giving back program, Addteq stresses the importance of letting employees know how much the company believes in the mission. They’ve found that this message is especially powerful when it comes directly from founders. They’ve also made their giving back program part of orientation. “It’s up to each employee to get involved,” says Jaclyn DePinho, Addteq’s marketing specialist. “But we try to make it fun, and we don’t push too hard. We use signs around the office, and lots of reminders. We treat it like a fun event.”

Recap: advice from Addteq on setting up a giving back program

  1. Let employees know how much the company supports the program, especially founders.
  2. Make your giving back program part of orientation.
  3. Make it fun, match activities with personal interests.
  4. Use frequent reminders, make sure event information is widely circulated.

Add to the snowball: next steps for you

This week’s series of posts about giving back were meant to do two things: show you the ways others are giving back, and inspire you to join in. Small steps make a huge difference. The ripple effects carry farther and farther, and that’s how a movement gains momentum. We truly believe in the power of teams. Team up with us, and with all of these great contributors, to create a true cultural shift in which all companies, teams, and individuals include giving back as an essential element of their working lives.

Here are 2 easy ways to get started:

  1. Read all the posts from this special week and get inspired.
  2. Get your company to join the Pledge 1% movement! It takes just 2 minutes. If your company already has one or more giving programs in place – anything from a product donation to a discount program for non-profits or a volunteer program – then taking the pledge simply recognizes what you’re already doing. And if your company doesn’t have any giving programs in place, but intends to in the future, then taking the pledge is about stating your philanthropic intent.

Let’s make a difference together!

Throughout October, tweet a photo of you and your team volunteering with the hashtag #TeamUp4Good to show the world all the different ways teams can make a difference. Be sure to @mention the organization you’re volunteering with, too – we’ll RT to give them some extra exposure. And if you’re going to #AtlassianSummit, present your #TeamUp4Good post at the Swag Store and receive a special token of appreciation.

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