Canva’s head of Social Impact, Robyn King, says the global design business has a “simple two-step plan” when it comes to its goals
“One: Build the world’s most valuable company. Two: Do the most good we possibly can,” she explains.
That second step is what drew the $8 billion Australian tech company to Pledge 1%, the the philanthropic project for early-stage companies to support their favourite charities.
“We first learned of the program through Atlassian, a founding member of the pledge,” Robyn said.
“Two of our core values at Canva are ‘Be a Force for Good’ and ‘Make Complex Things Simple’. Pledge 1% seemed like a transparent and simple way to hold ourselves accountable to these values by making a public pledge about our commitment to social impact work.”
Canva’s design tools are now used by more than 30 million people from 190 countries to create everything from t-shirts to presentations, videos, posters and more, and as it moves closer to that first goal of being the world’s most valuable company, the Canva team are acutely conscious that they have an important role and responsibility to do as much good in the world as possible. That’s why Pledge 1% is central to their approach.
“We’re fortunate to be in a position where we’ve been able to make a positive impact on the lives of millions around the world through Canva’s design platform, and while we’ve been able to make a difference with our tools, it was important for us to formalise our commitment through initiatives such as Pledge 1% and our recently established Canva Foundation,” Robyn said.
Canva’s commit is to commit 1% to commit 1% of our time, product, profit and equity towards making the world a better place and Robyn said signing up was easy, with plenty of support to help them achieve their goals.
“The Pledge 1% team shared a wealth of relevant resources with us, connected us to other organisations in the movement and helped us get started,” she said.
“There are no hard and fast rules – which means we were able to bring a unique approach to how we wanted to live out the pledge.”
The next step was an important one for the Canva team, with Robyn confessing that they “certainly didn’t have all the answers at the outset” and how the delivered their social impact promise took quite a lot of thinking and reflection.
“First and foremost, we set out to listen and learn from others in this space about how we could have a unique and tangible impact,” she said
“We wanted to understand how we could have the most meaningful impact, by strategically applying Canva’s distinctive strengths and unique abilities to specific social challenges. We were also very intent to ensure we weren’t reinventing the wheel – there are so many amazing organisations and solutions out there already – we wanted to understand how we could best complement existing solutions and/or fill gaps aligned with our strengths.”
Setting up the next steps
The next step was establishing the Canva Foundation.
The Foundation’s mission is to “Be a Force for Good by bringing the best of Canva and our resources to help solve global challenges in the most impactful way possible” and the company’s Head of Social impact said that after extensive research, analysis and consultation, “we turned our focus to two key areas where we believe we can have the most impact through our product, our Foundation project and our partnerships”.
Those next steps are:
- Empowering nonprofits to achieve their goals and their impact through design
- Giving youth in poverty access to skills needed to succeed in the digital economy to create a more inclusive future
“We’re really excited to continue exploring this space and increasing the impact we can have on the world going forward,” Robyn said.
As part of Canva’s Pledge 1%, they’re committing time, product, profit and equity to support nonprofits – the four key pledge types.
Robyn King explained how those options work:
- Profit and equity: This goes towards key Canva Foundation projects and our internal gift matching program. We match donations made by our team to nonprofit organisations, dollar for dollar.
- Product: By giving away our product. Canva for Education empowers classrooms all over the world at no cost, and our Canva for Nonprofits program provides more than 70,000 nonprofits with free lifetime access to Canva’s Pro subscription.
- Time: Everyone at Canva is provided with 3 days of paid volunteering leave. In addition to this, every team across the company contributes to our nonprofit and Canva Foundation projects through initiatives such as our Design for Change Week, where the entire Canva team rallied together to bring even more value to our nonprofit product, work on bespoke projects with nonprofits, and run virtual skill-building workshops for thousands of global nonprofits.
The consequences for all involved have been profound, she adds.
“We’ve seen and heard so many tangible and inspirational stories of how the time, energy and money we’re contributing towards various social issues is making a real difference to the lives of people around the world,” Robyn said.
“It’s the on-the-ground stories that bring joy and fulfilment to our whole team. From how our platform helped a nonprofit raise much needed funds via a marketing campaign, to how we inspired a social innovator to think about their brand in a completely new way, to how a youth-led group created assets using Canva for this year’s Earth Day Digital Strikes for thousands of digital strikers around the world.
“These are the stories that inspire the work we do and truly embody our value of ‘Be a Force for Good’.”
In late 2019, Canva partnered an organisation called LEAP Africa on their ‘social innovator’s program’ by running workshops on branding, storytelling, presentations and marketing for the innovators.
“Our aim was to help the social innovators refine their brand strategy and captivate the world with their story which would then enable them to raise important funding needed to scale their solutions,” Robyn said
“Our entire team was thrilled to see the ways in which the product we’re working on each and every day is able to have such a profound impact on helping social entrepreneurs solve real issues in their country.”
Canva’s Head of Social Impact takes the view everyone, including companies and the people who work for them, have a social and moral responsibility to contribute towards solving urgent challenges around the world.
“Not only is it the right thing to do – it’s one of the most important things we can do,” she said.
Canva recently received the Pledge 1% Impact Award at the Forbes Cloud 100 event and Robyn’s already looking at where they can take the company’s commitment to Pledge 1% next.
“We feel like we’re only just getting started, and we’re so excited about how we can be an even bigger Force for Good in 2021 and beyond,” she said.
Canva’s plans include sharing its education and nonprofit product with as many teachers, students and nonprofits as they can, measuring the impact they’re having and establishing a pilot skills training program.
“We’ll start capturing quantitative and qualitative data on whether our support is helping and how we can respond to feedback to ensure we’re creating a lasting and meaningful impact,” Robyn said.
“And the pilot skills training program will focus on giving youth in poverty access to skills needed to succeed in the digital economy to create a more inclusive future.”
How a company tackles being part of Pledge 1% is up to what suits them best, but they’ll be part of a network of more than 1000 companies who’ve already taken the pledge and are willing to share their advice and experiences.
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 our more and take the pledge too.