“Giving makes you feel good, and I don’t want to be the only one who gets to feel that way”, says Gliffy’s CEO and founder Chris Kohlhardt, when asked why he decided to have employees drive Gliffy’s charitable donations program.
When Chris and co-founder Clint Dickson started Gliffy in 2006, their goal was to create the kind of environment where everyone enjoyed working together. Of course for the first few years “everyone” was Clint and Chris, but as the company grew, the emphasis on meaningful employee happiness, generosity and sharing also grew to encompass everyone who came on board.
Employee happiness at Gliffy doesn’t mean having every service and convenience at your fingertips so you never have to leave (although, we did just get our own in-office bar, which is quite a nice perk). Employee happiness runs much deeper and includes continuous opportunities for personal and professional growth, company-sponsored classes, conferences, and a chance to give back to our community in a way that’s deeply significant to each of us.
This is where the employee-driven charitable donations program comes in. Every quarter we donate 5% of our proceeds to a Donor-Advised Fund managed by The San Francisco Foundation, an organization that makes it as easy to give as picking a charity and writing a check. Then we the employees pick charities that are meaningful to us. Last quarter we recommended that 55k of our total grant be allotted to 11 employee-elected charities: The Boys & Girls Club of North San Mateo County, Meals on Wheels, YMCA Camp Tockwogh, Clubhouse International, National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, The Oakland SPCA, Faith Justice, Mission Bit, CounterPULSE, Swords to Plowshares and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
Tech startups like ours are changing the landscape of San Francisco and beyond in ways both positive and negative. By giving back locally, we’re trying to put more emphasis on the positive. Since its inception, Gliffy has donated over a quarter of a million dollars and as we grow so will our contributions. Like Chris said, it feels good.