Calling All Entrepreneurs: Give Back To Your Community

At Foundry Group, we have a deeply held belief that we benefit from our local community (Boulder, in our case) and that we have a responsibility, as we have success, to give back to our local community.

My partner Seth Levine just had an excellent OpEd in the Boulder Daily Camera explaining this. It’s titled Entrepreneurs can give back, by giving early to EFCO. In it he explains more about Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO) and Pledge 1%, two organizations we have helped create.

Seth also describes our recent gift of $300,000, via EFCO, to Boulder-based non-profits, to fill a gap in funding from Foothills United Way that happened recently.

“The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County announced last week it will grant an additional $300,000 to local Boulder County nonprofits this summer in response to a 62 percent cut in funding from Foothills United Way. The grants will be funded by Foundry through our membership in the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado (EFCO).”

While many people view Boulder as a wealthy town, we have our share of people struggling to make ends meet. In fact, as Seth highlights in his OpEd:

“We hope this money will impact the thousands of local families and individuals who struggle to make ends meet in what is viewed by many as a wealthy, prosperous community. In fact, Boulder County has higher poverty rates than Colorado as a whole, and more than 9,000 children in our community live below the poverty level (defined as just over $24,000 per year for a family of four.)”

Amy and I contribute personally to several of the non-profits that this funding will go to. But, with EFCO, many more people can help. This gift is from Foundry Group and involved all the people (11 of them) who work for Foundry Group, not just the four partners. And, when you go to the EFCO page and see the list of the other 70+ or so companies that are members, you start to get a sense as to the power of the startup community in giving back to the broader community.

To date, Boulder-based startups such as Rally Software, Gnip, Revolv, Mocavo, DocPopcorn, Techstars, and Filtrbox have joined Foundry Group in distributing more than $3.5 million to Colorado community nonprofits since 2007 at the point of exit — when companies are either acquired or go public.

If you are a founder of a company and subscribe to the #GiveFirst motto that is so central to the Boulder startup community, give me a shout if you want to get plugged into EFCO (if you are in Colorado) or Pledge 1% (if you are anywhere else in the world).

  • Rick

    Most of the entrepreneurs I see these days are just trying to help themselves. I don’t know what’s up with that but it appears many startups are proceeding with caution.
    .
    Is everyone worried from all the talk about economic collapse around the globe? With China bolstering it’s economy and Greece wanting to leave the Euro and Puerto Rico falling apart maybe they are right? Maybe the collapse that people have talked about for 30 years is actually upon us?

  • ctwoodnyc

    Do you think social good is a necessary part of innovation? I think it stands to create more empathy, which will always benefit a product or service being developed by an entrepreneur (whether at a startup or enterprise).

  • Luke Vernon

    I was wrestling with if/how to donate 1% of equity for a startup I’m building and there’s a particular non-profit that I was thinking about. I didn’t realize how easy EFCO makes it to allocate %’s for a couple of different non-profits. This post was the tipping point for me. Awesome.

    • Dynamite.

      • Ron Gura

        Israeli “Tmura” is doing just that with local ESOPs for years, more than $12M in donations so far with a one man operation 🙂 We had the honour to contribute as well in our eBay”The Gifts Project” transaction.

        More about this NGO and method:
        http://www.tmura.org/

    • jasonmendelson

      awesome!

  • SS

    Giving back to the broader community helps to make this nation STRONG. Great post!

  • Rick

    Serious question Brad!
    .
    Since I’ve stopped programming and reduced my computer time my OCD has become tamed. I’m wondering… Do you ever find going back to something which triggered your OCD triggers it again?
    .
    I’m thinking of writing some spreadsheet scripts but am concerned that it might trigger my OCD and I’ll find myself trying to make them *perfect for every and all situations* instead of just making them do what I need.

    • I haven’t had this particular experience.

  • Offering back to the more extensive group serves to make this country STRONG. Incredible post!

  • John Tayer

    Brad, this is a great call to action! Former mayor Leslie Durgin recently assumed the role as our Nonprofit Liaison and Advisor at the Boulder Chamber and is working to facilitate stronger partnerships between for-profit and non-profit businesses . . . for mutual benefit and the good of the community. Thanks to the Foundry Group for your leadership in this area!

  • This is great! I’ve pledged to one of my alma mater’s VC funds (UCLA).