Blackbird Ventures has long admired Australian tech giant Atlassian’s approach to giving back, so when the venture capital firm first heard about Pledge 1% through the Atlassian Foundation, they jumped at the chance to be part of it and help change the world for the better.
Joel Connolly, head of the Blackbird Foundation, said the most important aspect of the company signing up for Pledge 1% was giving the team the chance to have a lasting impact on the social issues they care about.
“Secondly, it has given us an opportunity to creating a more meaningful experience for people who work at Blackbird,” he said.
“We are always looking for ways to create meaning for them and through Pledge 1% we can give them the opportunity to engage with social issues that are important to them.”
Signing up is easy, straightforward and talks less than 5 minutes, but then the real work starts, as Connolly explains.
“You have to ask some deep questions around the causes you care about, what it means to give and how you can integrate it into your work day to day,” he said.
Pledge 1% offers the flexibility to find ways of giving that suit your organisation and its people. It’s about inspiring change in ways that are meaningful for everyone involved. It’s also a process of discovery – coming to understand everyone’s passions along the way.
How you take part in Pledge 1% is all about what suits you and your organisation best, but you won’t be alone. You’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.
Blackbird initially turned its attention to trying to solve some of the issues they were having in the business.
“Our founders were struggling to attract talent in Australia. We tried to help them solve this by working with organisations that build STEM [science, technology, engineering, maths] capacities in schools,” Connolly said.
“This lead us towards the realisation that we care deeply about education and the development of young people. I would say it was a process that took years. We went on a journey not knowing exactly where it would end up and I think the key is to be comfortable with this.”
Nowadays, the VC firm directs its efforts through the Blackbird Foundation, which they established in September 2020. Connolly says it’s just the beginning of that journey as they look to have a greater impact on the problems they want to solve.
Blackbird and its people donate cash and employee time to organisations passionate about unleashing creativity in young people.
“Prior to this we supported FIRST Robotics, which is a global robotics competition for young people,” Connolly said.
“We donated money, raised money, volunteered our time and more.”
That generosity has its own benefits for everyone involved in volunteering their time for the FIRST Robotics tournament, as Connolly explains.
“Our team come away inspired and energised having spent time with such impressive young people,” he said.
“Our commitment to Pledge 1% adds another layer of meaning to their working lives at Blackbird.”
So what advice would he offer to startup founders and anyone else thinking of joining Pledge 1%?
“Do it early! When you decide to start a company, the first day, that’s when you should take the pledge,” he said.
“Make it a part of your culture from day one.”
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.