The Atlassian Foundation is helping startup founders ramp up their philanthropic efforts with equity pledges

- June 16, 2021 3 MIN READ
Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Scott Farquhar
Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar

Pledge 1% is a global philanthropic movement, co-founded in 2014 by Australian tech giant Atlassian, that encourages and empowers companies to donate 1% of their staff time, product, profit, and/or equity to any charity of their choosing.

More than 1,400 Australian companies, from new startups to tech unicorns have joined the Pledge 1% movement, including CanvaEnvato, SafetyCulture, Humantix, and Blackbird.

Pledge 1% is a non-profit that helps startups bake philanthropy into their business model. The Deed of Equity Gift not only formalises a founder’s pledge of equity to their chosen non-profits, it demonstrates that commitment to employees, customers, and others.

And while equity pledges have been popular in the US, in Australia they’ve been more difficult to manage and until now, have lacked the legal backing to validate the commitment.

Mark Reading, Atlassian Foundation

Mark Reading, head of the Atlassian Foundation

Mark Reading, head of the Atlassian Foundation, said that pledging equity can also complicate tax issues when Australian companies and founders make a commitment today to transfer share ownership or make cash-equivalent donations years down the track, which can act as a disincentive for startups.

“Atlassian made its pledge almost 20 years ago. As our business has grown, we’ve been able to make a positive impact on causes around the world. The pledge taken by our co-founders, Scott and Mike, has enabled us to pass A$50 million in donations this year and to have an asset base in excess of A$200 million in the Atlassian Foundation,” he said

“With the launch of this Deed of Equity Gift, we’re excited to help many other businesses make a positive impact on the world around them. It’s good for society and good for business.”


Tackling tax implications

PwC Tax Partner Jonathan Malone, who worked on the Deed project, said would-be philanthropists don’t want to be caught up in tax complications that create uncertainty and limit their impact.

You can also download the Pledge 1% Deed of Equity Gift form here.


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