Envato is a company with a big heart.
Collis Ta’eed co-founded the privately owned global marketplace in a Bondi garage in 2006 with his wife Cyan, and friend Jun Rung.
The Melbourne-based company now has more than 600 staff globally, having doubled in size in the last three years. It now generates more than $1 billion in revenue for its users annually.
Envato’s been a massive Australian tech success story that recently achieved B Corp certification, and has also increased its profit contribution to charitable causes to 2% annually.
For Collis, Envato chairman after recently stepping down as CEO, it’s all about connecting people with the company’s values as they grow.
One of those values was joining Pledge 1%, the philanthropic project founded by tech giant Atlassian as an easy way for early-stage companies to leverage a portion of their future success to support nonprofits in their communities.
More than 1000 Australian companies, from new startups to tech unicorns have signed up to Pledge 1%.
The important thing to know about Pledge 1% is that it’s not always about cash. There are four pledge types – product, equity, profit, or staff time – and companies and their teams can commit in any combination to the charity of your choice. And it can change over time as your startup grows and scales.
Envato has a long history of corporate philanthropy, but Collis Ta’eed wanted to be part of something bigger, which is why the company signed up to Pledge 1%.
“It’s about showing support for a movement to get more startups thinking about how to benefit the world in a more holistic way.Our motivation is much more to spread the idea to other organisations,” he said.
“Philosophically, we’ve been aligned to the idea of putting a portion of our profits to charity, and we kicked off our Envato Foundation a couple of years ago with that in mind.”
Focusing charity work
The Foundation has focused its efforts on helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Collis said joining Pledge 1% has been fairly seamless as it’s tapped into something we’re already doing, but he confesses that first, those charity efforts were “a shotgun affair”.
“We’d ask staff to nominate charities and then we ran a voting system to disperse a little to each of them. After a few years we took stock and realised that we’d be better served by focusing our efforts,” he said.
The result was the Envato Foundation, with its own Board of Directors made up of current and former employees.
And when a charity partner needs help with things such as an IT network or a website fix, he’s amazed by how strongly everyone responds.
“At one point we put out a call for people generally interested in volunteering with our charitable partners, and almost a third of the company wrote their name into the volunteer sheet,” he said.
Envato puts 1% of their profits into the Foundation, and that Board engages charities to partner with.
“We also ask people from those charities to present at our company All Hands, and regularly report on their activities back to the organisation to help everyone feel a part of the program,” Collis said.
“Our focus with the Pledge has been on sharing in our profits. We put 1% into our Foundation, and a further 1% into other charitable activities in countries where we have subsidiaries – Mexico and the US.”
The flexibility Pledge 1% offers also made it easier for Envato to maintain its commitment as the company evolved.
“The nice thing about a percentage-based system is that it flexes with the company. In years where our profits are lower, the pledged commitment also goes down. And when times are good, so is our ability to deliver on the commitment!” Collis said.
The Envato founder said the engagement from the team around what they’re doing with Pledge 1% has been high.
“The broader team also gets great mileage out of knowing that working at Envato supports charities and stakeholders out in the community,” he said.
Senior Email Marketing Specialist Monica McCormick is typical of sentiment expressed by the team.
“Envato’s commitment to making a positive impact in the community, both in giving a portion of profits to charity and recently transitioning into B Corp status, are some of the things that make me most proud to work for the organisation,” she said.
“My time at Envato has shaped what I would require of any future employer or endeavours: there needs to be an evident and legitimate commitment to the greater good and values that align closely to my own.”
Collis Ta’eed holds the view that most people are intrinsically motivated about the idea of giving and charity, but sometimes it can be tricky to sell internally.
“It’s easiest when a business is small, which is why the Pledge 1% movement is such a neat idea – you get businesses when they are small and growing, and no-one is too fussed,” he said.
“When they are larger and there are lots of stakeholders at the table, the pledge is already part of the fabric of the business.
“I think the key to a movement like Pledge 1% is to show that this can be done sustainably, without negatively impacting business health. So for us, I just want to let the years mount up, and show a growing body of donation that followed the pledge.”
Pledge 1% is an easy model to businesses of all sizes and stages have an impact. It only takes 30 seconds to take the pledge, and you can always update your pledge type and information later.
Click here to find out more and take the pledge too.