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June 23, 2021

Establish A Giving Habit for Greater Happiness with Joel Pollick, CEO of Percent Pledge

Establish A Giving Habit for Greater Happiness with Joel Pollick, CEO of Percent Pledge

Do More Good! Be Happier!


 Join Corinna Bellizzi as she interviews Joel Pollick, CEO & Founder of Percent Pledge and learn how establishing a giving habit can bring more happiness into your life. You’ll learn how he has helped businesses establish stronger Corporate Social Responsibility programs without so much headache, while retaining employees and inspiring individuals to champion the spirit of giving in their own lives through subscription giving programs.

 

About Joel Pollick, CEO of Percent Pledge

Joel Pollick, Founder & CEO of Percent Pledge, grew up in philanthropy with his father, Marc Pollick, founding The Giving Back Fund in 1997. With this in mind, and his experience in sales, B2B SaaS, and strategy, Joel founded Percent Pledge as a B2C company providing a better and easier way to give back to any and several nonprofits with a ‘subscription for giving.’  After a year, thoughtful strategy, user tests, and much more, Percent Pledge pivoted as a B2B company, becoming the first solution to create social impact programs that are customizable and affordable for businesses of any size.

Guest Website: https://www.percentpledge.org 

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Support Care More. Be Better: A Social Impact + Sustainability Podcast

Care More. Be Better. is not backed by any company. We answer only to our collective conscience. As a listener, reader, and subscriber you are part of this pod and this community and we are honored to have your support. If you can, please help finance the show (https://www.caremorebebetter.com/donate). Thank you, now and always, for your support as we get this thing started!

 

00:00  Introduction

02:13  Joel Pennick’s Motivation

05:15  From Idea to Not-For-Profit

08:00  Serving Consumers & Employees First

09:48  Making Giving A Habit

11:30  Bootstrapping / Building A Do-Good Business

13:30  The Connection Between Giving + Happiness

19:00  Building A “Mutual Fund for Giving”

27:27  Pledge Reports / Impact Reports = Retained Engagement

32:40  Vetting Partner Not-For-Profits

36:30  Running a Virtual Company (Pre + Post COVID)

41:00  Next Goal Posts, Simon Sinek & More

44:44  Personal Inspiration

47:00  Takeaways - Options For Giving Programs, Employee Retention & More

Transcript

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Corinna Bellizzi: Hello fellow educators and friends i'm your host trainable izzy an activist and cause marketer who's passionate about social impact and sustainability.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Today we're going to talk about how you can make a difference, each and every month through subscription donations and creative partnerships.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: But before we get there i'd like to invite you to visit our website care more be better calm.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: You can sign up for our newsletter to be the first to gain access to new episodes and easily browse past shows on topics that matter most to you.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: you'll find full transcripts suggestions for actions you can take to make a difference and if you're so inclined, you could even make a donation to support the show.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: You can even join us each week on clubhouse for alive connections, this is just an audio APP where we can talk one on one or group to group.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: it's Wednesday at 2pm Pacific each week just follow me on clubhouse at care more be better just leave out that final E and better and you will find us, there are also direct links on our instagram page there also direct links on our instagram page.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Have you made giving a habit, have you built a pay it forward perspective into your day to day to talk about the perspective of giving i'm joined by joy.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: To talk about the perspective of giving i'm joined by Joel Pollack founder and CEO of percent pledge Joel grew up in the world of philanthropy as his father mark polak built the giving back fund back in 1997.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: In a way, as an homage to his childhood experience Joel pennock founded percent pledge to provide a better and easier way for people to give back through the power of subscription giving.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: percent pledge creates social impact programs that are customizable and affordable for businesses of any size Joel welcome to the show.

 

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Joel Pollick: Thank you, thank you for having me i'm i'm excited to be here and nerd out with you on this topic of social impact, and I think we're both quite interested in.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: yeah now i'd love for you to share a bit about your personal story what motivated you to start percent pledge.

 

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Joel Pollick: It was originally.

 

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Joel Pollick: Frankly, a.

 

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Joel Pollick: Personal need.

 

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Joel Pollick: I, as you mentioned grew up in in and around philanthropy and social impact, given the work that my dad did, and it.

 

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Joel Pollick: was also just a part of our kind of life as a family, we donated 10% of our money each year and.

 

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Joel Pollick: When I was growing up, I can't believe this was not my brother and I were not the two family members voting to keep that initiative going, but we grew up and realize the wide world beyond ourselves and I found myself.

 

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Joel Pollick: Once I graduated college started my professional career living, working in Chicago as a B2B strategy consultant, so I was helping.

 

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Joel Pollick: Businesses in various different industries with you know marketing around new products, go to market strategies due diligence for acquisitions things like that and I.

 

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Joel Pollick: I was making good money and doing nothing in the way of giving and and I wanted to, I wanted to change that and and I went to my firm, who was pretty small.

 

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Joel Pollick: There was nothing formal are established in place in the term in terms of a social impact program, and so I thought all right, well, I can at least start this individually just outside of work and and the initial kind of.

 

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Joel Pollick: Aha moment 4% pledge was was thinking back to I guess sort of a combination of the past and present, so in the past.

 

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Joel Pollick: That notion of giving some percent of our income our family of 10% each year at stuck with me and so that made sense to me, and then in the present I was a.

 

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Joel Pollick: Young professional millennial that subscriptions for literally everything in my life, and so I thought, why, why not create a subscription for giving, and so I had the initial idea I.

 

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Joel Pollick: Remember i'll remember the conversation probably until the end of time, when I was walking back to the blue line.

 

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Joel Pollick: In the loop in Chicago to go home one night and I called my dad which was both.

 

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Joel Pollick: calling him for the normal weekly check in just to see Hello How are things going, and also, I had asked him about this idea, because I.

 

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Joel Pollick: candidly thought that it already exists there already was in the world, so I I told them hey i'm looking for to set up sort of a subscription for giving.

 

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Joel Pollick: Can you point me towards a couple platforms websites, what have you, and when I explained what I wanted to do, he said I don't know anything like that.

 

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Joel Pollick: Which at first disappointed me a little bit, but, but it also excited me, and so I then rushed home and just did a ton of research to see if he was correct and there wasn't fact nothing like this out there, so we then embarked on ongoing about to to bring it to life.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: wow so I liked it a little bit about how long it took you to get this effort off the ground from that moment of ideation when you're walking around the loop in Chicago.

 

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Joel Pollick: It was about a year or so, so I worked on percent pledge just on my nights and weekends, and I was still working full time at my consulting firm I was at and.

 

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Joel Pollick: I had, as I mentioned, you explain the idea to my dad I shared it with a few other people and two mentors in Chicago that were quite important throughout this process, the first of which was an individual named mark tackler he runs a is a professor at northwestern and also runs a.

 

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Joel Pollick: venture capital firm in Chicago and the second was individual than Neil sales Griffin who just actually had a mayoral run in Chicago a year or two ago, and now he's been a serial entrepreneur, coincidentally, also a professor at northwestern and I met them both through 1871.

 

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Joel Pollick: And I I those were the two other individuals beyond my family and like maybe close friends or my girlfriend Emily that I shared this idea with and.

 

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Joel Pollick: Mark was incredibly valuable in essentially making me infinitely smarter about how to figure out if there was a there there of kind of figure validating whether this idea had legs what it would turn into and and Neil, similarly to that many regards, but also with with Neil she.

 

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Joel Pollick: introduced me to he has a background in technology and introduced me to individuals that I ended up working together with to bring the initial iteration and present pledge to life because i'm not a technical founder I become technically somewhat fluent now but.

 

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Joel Pollick: At the time, our original team was myself colleen who's a friend of mine who does graphic design who she was working at a.

 

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Joel Pollick: ux ui firm in Chicago at the time and then two individuals, a front end engineer and a backend engineer that Neil introduced me to who we kind of put this patchwork team together and spent four months building the original the 1% pledge as a side project together.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Well that's really great So if you were to go ahead and share a little bit about your first clients and who that was perhaps if you're even able to do so, and what that looked like I would just love to hear that story.

 

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Joel Pollick: yeah absolutely and the I guess the the distinction there, I would draw is whether we're talking user as a client or or business as a client and.

 

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Joel Pollick: Because when I mentioned that it was about a year or so from idea to launching the first iteration of percent pledge present pledge was in its initial form.

 

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Joel Pollick: A B2C platform, so our initial thinking with that this would just be for individuals and we we pivoted to focus on what we do now, which is, which is a focus on serving.

 

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Joel Pollick: Businesses but still at the end of the day, the employees the individuals are the ones that that leverage our technology and services, but the first individual who used who's our platform is was in January right, I think, maybe the first day of 2018 and and then it was.

 

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Joel Pollick: q3 of 2018 when we had kind of pivoted things and our first business customer was, I believe, yellow in Chicago they're in an HR tech company, they have about 300 or so employees and we.

 

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Joel Pollick: I can't remember how I was connected in there, it was not a cold call situation, I think I had done a lot of linkedin stalking and found someone that was connected to me that had a connection to yellow and we.

 

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Joel Pollick: got a meeting with their team and spoke with.

 

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Joel Pollick: With the two members of their people team on on what we're doing and explaining hey how we had built out this this solution to make it possible for businesses of any size to power social impact programs, and what they want to.

 

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Joel Pollick: For free the sort of one of our first beta customers and and introduce this technology to their employees and.

 

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Joel Pollick: help make giving a habit, you know as a company.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: You know this is something you speak to on your website, as well as in our earlier conversations making giving a habit.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: I think you mentioned that also, as we were getting started with the whole perspective of giving 10% of every paycheck to not for profit or charity that mattered to you and your family.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: So let's talk a little bit about instilling this habit, and it would also like to understand a little bit more about what changed when you went from being a consumer facing.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: B2C type of effort to now, one that is more connected with businesses to help them build these Corporate Social Responsibility programs that can really engage their employees so let's learn a little bit more.

 

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Joel Pollick: yeah absolutely so i'll maybe take those in reverse or blend them together and in terms of what changed it.

 

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Joel Pollick: wasn't any sort of business structure or anything.

 

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Joel Pollick: Major our technology changed it just evolved because we needed to be a little bit different if it was.

 

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Joel Pollick: A platform that any individual would just access off the street versus if it was something for for businesses and and then additionally just a shift in our focus, you know it, it was I said pivot and it is correct, but it in terms of how we thought about it, it wasn't necessarily.

 

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Joel Pollick: A completely different approach, it was just kind of moving up the value chain, we said okay if we're seeing now in these early months that.

 

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Joel Pollick: This technology we built is valuable and it's helping people to support the causes of charities they're most passionate about, and do so on, and on an ongoing basis.

 

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Joel Pollick: Then, what if we went to businesses and instead of trying to get you know individuals off the street, one by one, because our initial thinking was Okay, we.

 

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Joel Pollick: We can go viral, which is a prayer and not a plan or if we had it'd be great if I had a million dollars, and I could have done just tons of Facebook ads, but it was me funding everything from my consulting bonuses at the time.

 

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Joel Pollick: And so we said all right well how are we going to monetize this to make money off that to make it sustainable and so we said all right let's move up the value chain, instead of trying to get.

 

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Joel Pollick: individually, one by one, off the street let's try and work with businesses and see if there's a value add we can provide to them and then, if we get a business, we can introduce this.

 

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Joel Pollick: Technology and service to hundreds, thousands of employees at once, and that was the initial hypothesis and thinking that you know we've confirmed over time and expanded upon so so that was the shift and I guess it would just be a shift in focus.

 

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Joel Pollick: And kind of move moving up the value chain, because we, I guess, are in essence a B to B to C company now you know we're ultimately still helping that end user that donor.

 

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Joel Pollick: But the way that percent pledges deliver to them is now mainly through their employer, as opposed to if they would have seen a Facebook ad had those existed ever.

 

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Joel Pollick: And, and then the other piece to your question around kind of that notion of of making giving a habit, and I suppose how that focus had evolved, it was.

 

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Joel Pollick: Really, for me, a sort of.

 

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Joel Pollick: A practice of common sense more more than anything, and you know when we were getting going, given what I had known growing up in this space, as well as.

 

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Joel Pollick: Far too much additional research that I had just done on my own to educate myself about this space about what.

 

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Joel Pollick: philanthropy looked like what Corporate Social Responsibility look like what what giving back and donating look like in today's world and especially with different types of donors, whether it was breaking down by age by geography by generation.

 

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Joel Pollick: And there was also some research at the time.

 

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Joel Pollick: That some scientists had done a study and essentially proved and neuro what link between giving and happiness, and so the thinking in our mind was ra well.

 

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Joel Pollick: If we can get people to make it easy for them to donate on an ongoing basis, as opposed to one time and we had done some early research and asking folks we kept hearing Oh, I give back when.

 

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Joel Pollick: My buddies running a marathon or God forbid, we have a family member that you know that gets that falls ale or.

 

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Joel Pollick: The sort of situational conditional one off kind of ad hoc moments, what if we could inspire people to.

 

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Joel Pollick: In essence, change their behavior and and make giving a part of their everyday I have it, as opposed to something that is more reactive, can we help them make it more proactive and we knew that that was a challenge, because it is an apparently a behavior change.

 

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Joel Pollick: But we looked around and said okay subscriptions are, as I mentioned that beginning part of most people's lives now so that model that subscription model which, in the giving philanthropy world is known as recurring giving we didn't inherently reinvent that.

 

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Joel Pollick: We.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: were doing payments basically.

 

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Joel Pollick: Right exactly so we just made that piece.

 

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Joel Pollick: A bit more simple and streamlined and we added some curation and vetting at the top there and then so we said all right, people are used to subscriptions and then the other hand.

 

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Joel Pollick: We have not only this recent scientific data but also others pointing to just how good it makes people feel when they do give back how it does increase happiness and we said all right well if.

 

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Joel Pollick: People are happier when they get back let's see if we can make giving back a part of their everyday life, and maybe the US let's make them continually happier.

 

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Joel Pollick: So that was our thinking behind that model is that it's frankly better for the individual, it makes philanthropy and giving a part of their everyday life that.

 

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Joel Pollick: is more proactive and strategic as opposed to being reactive and just waiting to give when your body runs a marathon it's better, for now, the companies we serve because their.

 

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Joel Pollick: Impact snowballs their employees engagement and that's happiness with their social impact programs and their experience at the company as a whole evolves and expands and then for the nonprofits as well, probably the most important group here.

 

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Joel Pollick: That was already.

 

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Joel Pollick: The most coveted type of philanthropy you know when we were speaking initially to the nonprofit's so many of them already had.

 

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Joel Pollick: monthly recurring programs in place, and so you know if you talk to any nonprofit now as i'm sure you, you know quite a few if you ask them.

 

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Joel Pollick: What type of dollar they covet most aside from maybe a blank check from a large donor a recurring donation is the type that they want, so they can.

 

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Joel Pollick: it's like any other business nonprofits you know need revenue tune, so if they can get recurring revenue that allows them to plan better and be more thoughtful about their growth, then it's better for everyone.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: yeah I completely agree.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: it's obvious that when you have a recurring subscription you have an engaged.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: You have your have an engaged audience to right like they are involved in your success they're more.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: likely to be looking at what you're doing or even considering modifying who they're donating to so i'd like to know a little bit more about the user aspect of this because.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Right now, as it stands you're working through a company to go ahead and set up or a few hundred employees, maybe even a few thousand.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: But what does it look like to them like are they able to change the charities they're contributing to on a fly, is it a particular set of vetted charities that they're able to donate to that are selected by the company How does that really work.

 

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Joel Pollick: yeah so there's i'm trying to think of the best way to.

 

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Joel Pollick: To answer that, in a way that that makes sense and is peeling the onion correctly so i'm not diving into concepts that that maybe listeners or you don't have context on, but the.

 

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Joel Pollick: I think the important piece as a baseline is the initial technology, made it easy for someone to.

 

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Joel Pollick: customize a subscription for giving and donate some X percent that they input it of their monthly take home a percent pledge to.

 

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Joel Pollick: causes or charities, they were passionate about we would then took some in three minutes to make the pledge, we then automate their monthly donations archive their tax receipts and.

 

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Joel Pollick: send them ongoing impact reports each month, so that they have their giving stats as well as stories on okay how where's this money going, how is it being put to work, how is it creating an impact and.

 

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Joel Pollick: The user experience today is is largely similar but it's evolved, as you can imagine, so we now have one time donations, as well as matching donations on the platform, so it isn't.

 

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Joel Pollick: Even know the subscription for giving ideas still the majority of what our Community does there is other customization so that people can truly make their giving whatever they want it and, additionally.

 

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Joel Pollick: You asked about which is useful to this answer and what you mentioned as well about kind of how things have changed or evolved over time is initially we had our.

 

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Joel Pollick: Our cause portfolios, which are essentially.

 

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Joel Pollick: mutual funds for charitable giving so the initial concept behind those was some research that we had done as well as seeing.

 

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Joel Pollick: Our focus and even remains there was largely on millennial donors millennial employees there now the majority generation, the workforce.

 

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Joel Pollick: They tend to view philanthropy through the cause lens as opposed to specific organizations and so.

 

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Joel Pollick: What that means in plain English is you know if you ask a millennial hey, what do you care about what do you support, what do you donate to.

 

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Joel Pollick: they'll are more likely to tell you, the environment or veterans or health care, as opposed to you know the World Wildlife Fund or team Rubicon or specific nonprofit and.

 

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Joel Pollick: A lot of that is just because they haven't really developed, you know their philanthropic identity and kind of become a philanthropist yet because they're getting going with their career, but a lot of it is just a.

 

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Joel Pollick: How they think about giving, and so we said all right let's build this technology in a way that aligns to how our user is thinking about this thing that they would be using our technology to do and we built out these these cars portfolio so initially.

 

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Joel Pollick: It was just us going out and doing a ton of research and vetting of the is a list of about 300 or so nonprofits we put together, based on the six top cause areas that.

 

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Joel Pollick: From a bunch of research that we got back that were the most popular and our initial technology just allowed people to donate to those six cost portfolio so each of them had.

 

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Joel Pollick: About three to four maybe five pre vetted nonprofits within them that we're all focused on that same issue area like education or veterans or health care, but.

 

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Joel Pollick: Not overlapping organization, so they were all top rated but unique and complimentary because if we're building a portfolio, we want to you know share it responsibly and not just have.

 

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Joel Pollick: Five animal shelters in the animal on that are all pretty much doing the same thing so so we did that work and.

 

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Joel Pollick: In the way the main way that the technology has evolved which gets that user experience piece is is We then built out a database of every charity in the US with the irs data so it's.

 

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Joel Pollick: 2,000,002 million plus organizations and introduced our byob version are build your own portfolio option, as well as then.

 

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Joel Pollick: introduced custom company portfolios and so now an employee who goes on, are actually frankly even we still allow individuals to sign out so now whether you're an individual or employee.

 

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Joel Pollick: When you're going on that user experiences selecting your causes initially so whether that is some of our pre vetted cause portfolios and we have many of them now, we just.

 

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Joel Pollick: For this month we recently introduced our LGBT Q plus portfolio, we had an API portfolio that was focused and part of a lot of matching campaigns in May, so employees get to come on.

 

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Joel Pollick: pick their causes, whether that's one or many they could pick the company's cause so for each company we customize a portfolio with their nonprofit partners and and then as well.

 

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Joel Pollick: They can pick any charities they want and so all three of those options are kind of covering all the bases in terms of here's the.

 

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Joel Pollick: curated version with our core portfolios that sort of a serving as philanthropic advisor.

 

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Joel Pollick: To build your own option is the bring your own charities whatever if you're already supporting organizations, then you're using the platform as a one stop shop to just consolidate you're giving.

 

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Joel Pollick: or with the company portfolio having organizations like you can imagine a financial tech company that focuses on partnering with financial literacy nonprofit so maybe those nonprofits are featured in that company portfolio and so employees can.

 

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Joel Pollick: they're all mutually exclusive options, a lot of people will donate to to cause portfolios, as well as one specific charity that they searched the database for then they get to pick whether they want.

 

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Joel Pollick: To make it a monthly ongoing subscription for giving or they just want to do a one time gift and then select their amounts, so how much they want to donate each of these portfolios.

 

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Joel Pollick: And just truly customize their.

 

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Joel Pollick: Their philanthropy they're they're giving.

 

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Joel Pollick: And it takes the now took them before about three minutes to sign up in the whole process now if people are giving one time it takes employees about a minute or so, and if they want to customize a monthly subscription forgiving still takes me about three minutes or so.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: So really This all sounds like you've borrowed quite a bit from financial technology.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: You know, almost like building mutual funds or customized portfolios.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: i'm reminded of my own experience, you know building my E trade account as a, for example.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: So i'm curious to know how or if you've been able to identify how much incremental giving.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Your company has been responsible for enabling like perhaps by looking at what a user's prior typical donations were over the course of the year versus what they were after so that we could really connect with the impact that your organization is already having.

 

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Joel Pollick: and

 

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Joel Pollick: that's a good question I don't, would you be able to I don't know if I understand fully in terms of the incremental impact or maybe I guess to help explain we don't necessarily have data on people's giving before they started using our.

 

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Joel Pollick: system, but I was thinking more from that perspective, where you mentioned that marathon you know runner like was raising funds and so their friends might donated 50 or $100.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: As an ad hoc donation, so if you had any sort of data about the ad hoc donation versus the programmatic donation perspective and how much more people were ultimately giving as a result of being a part of your program and I know that would be hard to.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: answer so I just I don't know if you have an idea there yeah we so we don't have specifics there because the.

 

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Joel Pollick: Research we did early on, was obviously not obviously, but it was at the general level, so it was asking about 500 or so individuals to explain their current giving habits so we're able to see across that okay.

 

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Joel Pollick: There were these trends and when asked when asked when, how do you give back everyone said situationally ad hoc how many individual donations, did you make throughout the year typically 124 to six.

 

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Joel Pollick: So comparing those general pieces, we can have we can you know piece together some of that picture, and so, for example, you know the kind of average giving.

 

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Joel Pollick: That was researched on a couple of years ago for an individual just a typical employee young professional well as I believe something like $300 per year and our average monthly donations are.

 

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Joel Pollick: About $60 a month across our entire Community, and so, in that way you're seeing an incremental value there, what are we multiplying about five so going from 300 to 500 per year.

 

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Joel Pollick: And then additionally are one time donations are average across our community about $150 or so per one time donation.

 

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Joel Pollick: So we have not done that analysis to compare that general data across kind of the patterns that we're seeing for us it's about are we seeing folks continue to engage with our technology and use our service on an ongoing basis and that piece, has been the one that.

 

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Joel Pollick: we've just been incredibly grateful for, and has been awesome over time is for our.

 

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Joel Pollick: For our recurring donors as subscription givers are pleasures, which is the majority still of our Community, we have a 95% ongoing monthly retention.

 

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Joel Pollick: And and that's the piece that again to our conversation earlier we didn't.

 

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Joel Pollick: We didn't invent recurring giving we just made it a little bit simpler easier, more curated and then the the piece that we that we did invent and kind of the innovation related there is.

 

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Joel Pollick: Our pledge reports our impact reports that each individual donor gets each month, which has been the driving force.

 

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Joel Pollick: behind that incredible retention and why people just keep giving is.

 

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Joel Pollick: Transparency is is king like folks want to see hey if i'm making a donation if i'm helping an organization or multiple organizations further their mission, I want to have an idea of.

 

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Joel Pollick: You know i'm now inherently a part of that, and I want to know how they are furthering their mission and so being able to provide that transparency back to our donors our users on an ongoing basis has.

 

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Joel Pollick: was one of the kind of initial hypotheses that we lucked out on that was really correct was let's put a real big focus on transparency here and kind of try and create this impact feedback loop and that.

 

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Joel Pollick: Have it be like any other subscription were in the past recurring giving wasn't really like other subscriptions because people were asking nonprofits we're asking folks to donate on an ongoing basis.

 

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Joel Pollick: But not really there wouldn't talk to them at all we kept running into this and trying to get zombie donations so it's nonprofit saying hey let's not remind those folks that they are giving each month, because if we remind them they might stop doing it or.

 

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Joel Pollick: On the flip side, it was.

 

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Joel Pollick: Organizations that would over communicate with their recurring donors, but over communicate with them in.

 

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Joel Pollick: A not very thoughtful way of just sending them more calls to action to donate which.

 

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Joel Pollick: doesn't make sense, because if you have a recurring donor you've you've won the battle, you know you a subscription customers what you're going for.

 

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Joel Pollick: And so, with our our pledge reports really wanted those to be a practice of gratitude, more than anything, it's not sending them more calls to action it's us, providing them transparency into.

 

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Joel Pollick: This giving habit that they've created and trying to be really thoughtful about you know let's make this like any other subscription where if you're donating you get something for you in return on an ongoing basis, and that that would make people want to keep doing it.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: yeah I think you've brought up a couple things that I really resonate with so far, and so one thing is that you are.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Essentially, operating as a gateway as well you're helping people to connect with the charities they might want to.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: But I imagine they're also not then receiving the buckets of junk mail that they might receive if they were developing a direct relationship with some of those companies because it's kind of buried in or hedged into another company support would that be correct.

 

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Joel Pollick: i'm on the user side or the nonprofit's.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: On the user side, yes.

 

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Joel Pollick: yeah so the same way that we're doing some of that curation on the front end with those columns portfolios if.

 

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Joel Pollick: It does trickle over or, I guess, maybe kind of copy itself over into the back end in that.

 

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Joel Pollick: Our donors are not receiving 567 communications from the three, four or five different organizations that they're supporting each month they're receiving one.

 

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Joel Pollick: pledge report from us that has impact stories from all of those organizations and that's one of the main ways that we partner with the nonprofit's is we don't.

 

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Joel Pollick: You asked about kind of how our structure at evolved over time, when we were thinking about how to monetize things we we went the business route because we didn't want to charge nonprofits.

 

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Joel Pollick: Like some other giving platforms do it just it seemed silly to charge the nonprofits to then.

 

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Joel Pollick: be driving donations right back towards them, and so the partnership that we have in place with them is hey we're going to drive more awareness and recurring dollars towards you and your mission in return.

 

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Joel Pollick: you provide us transparency and updates the same that you would normally provide so that we can bring that curated experience and kind of situation report each month back to our donors, so they can have a short succinct idea of how they're giving habit is making a positive impact.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: yeah and I think from the user perspective, not being annoyed by a bunch of paper junk mail or.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: A slew of emails, many of which may not actually be relevant to what they're concerned about, I think, is actually an added bonus and feature.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: i'm thinking of my is a one time donation to the nature conservancy as an example, I very much resonate with their mission.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: I did not resonate with the fact that I received probably 15 pieces of mail over the course of six months, as a result.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: So I think that there are some things that these nonprofits can learn from the success of your platform as well, one of the questions I have actually comes back to how you vet them.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: And the Cross communication, because obviously you need to be absorbing information from them about the impact of the dollars that you're raising, on behalf of these users and the companies that may be funding or.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: matching the contributions of their employees, so can we learn a little bit more about that.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: yeah absolutely.

 

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Joel Pollick: um so from a vetting perspective, I think the other important piece to consider here is.

 

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Joel Pollick: For the the organizations, when I explain our vetting criteria this for the organizations in our cause portfolios are in the company portfolios.

 

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Joel Pollick: With that database that we had built out, we have not taken 2 million organizations every nonprofit in the US, through this extensive vetting process, but obviously we want to provide ultimate choice back to donors in which organizations, they support, and so we typically will start with.

 

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Joel Pollick: Frankly, a lot of desk research it's looking at existing evidence based charity evaluators whether that's.

 

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Joel Pollick: Give well guide star charity navigator great nonprofits give directly there's many more on that.

 

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Joel Pollick: We figure let's not reinvent the wheel if if there's already been really thoughtful work done by others, then let's leverage that to get a good kind of baseline understanding about the organization and then.

 

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Joel Pollick: We look at their board and staff, is it diverse and representative of the cause the Community that they're serving as well as how transparent, they are with.

 

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Joel Pollick: The work that they're doing so part of that is looking at their financials 990s to say Okay, is that, if they say this, many dollars are is going towards programs, and these are the programs that's going to.

 

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Joel Pollick: Their financial form should reflect that as well, should tell that same story and then as well.

 

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Joel Pollick: To the average donor to the public what is the sort of transparency that they're providing back so, in some cases.

 

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Joel Pollick: Like one tree planted is a partner of ours and our environmental portfolio for them, they do a quite good job at this and it's quite literal they can show for every dollar how many trees are planted and for other organizations.

 

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Joel Pollick: it's not a direct one to one because their work or programs could just be inherently different than that then planting.

 

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trees.

 

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Joel Pollick: So for that we say Okay, what are you showing in terms of evidence back to the public in a way that's appropriate for you so given your programs, and your mission.

 

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Joel Pollick: And the outcomes that you're trying to drive.

 

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Joel Pollick: Are you accurately and consistently showing those outcomes and doing so in a way that's commensurate with 2021 and so that's.

 

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Joel Pollick: How are they leveraging digital media whether it's social media tracking tools technology is this organization living in in this realm and using what's available to them to keep improving their.

 

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Joel Pollick: And then, additionally, which is a bit more of a subjective one is we look a lot at how is this organization unique or think about it, how are they one of one.

 

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Joel Pollick: Whether that is, in some cases that's through technology and others that's the remodel or partnership.

 

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Joel Pollick: What makes this organization stand out in the field, the cause area, whether that's you know, maybe again veterans or the environment or health care what makes them unique and stand out that would.

 

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Joel Pollick: That would be something that we want to highlight to our donors, you know, to show them hey this organization.

 

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Joel Pollick: is transparent about what they're doing, they have top marks from all of the evidence based charity evaluators and the work that they're doing in their mission is truly unique and innovative in these ways.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: that's really great you know, one of the things you mentioned in that last set is really leveraging technology.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Now, and the last year and 2020 and 2021 we've all had to leverage technology in a unique and new way because of coven so I wonder if there are any changes that you implemented, specifically because of that, and if so, if they're sticking long term or if you'll be reverting back.

 

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Joel Pollick: We.

 

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Joel Pollick: that's a great question and i'm just trying to think through of any kind of new changes and and, quite honestly, we we didn't change much we We grew quite a bit.

 

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Joel Pollick: which we are incredibly grateful for and it's also a.

 

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Joel Pollick: Very surreal experience during a global pandemic, whatever one was like what on earth is happening here to be going through kind of a good period.

 

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Joel Pollick: And because we before coven were largely.

 

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Joel Pollick: native or about company, as is why I think we're going to continue that so that maybe is one change, where we were thinking.

 

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Joel Pollick: We were founded in Chicago i'm, for instance, I live in New York, now we have TEAM members in.

 

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Joel Pollick: on the west coast as well, and we still have most of our TEAM members in Chicago or the Midwest but we were.

 

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Joel Pollick: Thinking about whether we you know would get an office in as we continue to grow have kind of a main HQ and be trying to hire in that one market.

 

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Joel Pollick: Whereas what we're learning now is is we like and can operate effectively being fully remote I think we're going to keep that focus moving forward.

 

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Joel Pollick: And, and then from a business operations perspective, we got lucky with this prize many other software companies that are mainly software focused companies that are.

 

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Joel Pollick: We were already kind of for social impact, and for corporate social responsibility programs for businesses, the remote friendly option of doing things.

 

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Joel Pollick: Whereas a lot of companies.

 

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Joel Pollick: that's really what brought about so much of that growth is so many companies were doing like what we call their DIY CSR or having some kind of pretty manual heavy giving program workplace philanthropy.

 

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Joel Pollick: initiative in place that.

 

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Joel Pollick: When covert hit that inherently kind of wiped it off the board, and so, working with an organization like ours that could provide them a remote friendly option to help their employees, be able to keep giving back to whatever they cared about through work.

 

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Joel Pollick: And maybe the last difference there.

 

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Joel Pollick: was on the volunteering front, we, in addition to to giving platform we custom configure pledge portals the SAS offering for every business we work with.

 

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Joel Pollick: We also have a volunteer module on there and then a set of volunteer services that we provide for probably now, a majority of our clients where.

 

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Joel Pollick: Our team of philanthropy experts just essentially does the heavy lifting related to organizing team volunteer projects and.

 

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Joel Pollick: In coven everything went from I think we had maybe 10 or 12 in person projects that in the course of one week all just got completely wiped off the board.

 

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Joel Pollick: As they should have been there were all scheduled for like April 2020 and so when cities and States started to kind of shut down and do stay at home orders.

 

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Joel Pollick: in person, volunteering went to the wayside, as it should have in virtual volunteering really took a step up and so that's something that.

 

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Joel Pollick: For the past 1516 months all of our volunteer programs and volunteer projects we we put together for our clients have been virtual and.

 

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Joel Pollick: that's worked out incredibly well and that's actually I think something that will continue moving forward to your question about what will remain, even after we move past coven that's one item that that certainly will and mainly because of the the value is providing to the companies.

 

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Joel Pollick: And that so many of our customers are are like us.

 

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Joel Pollick: going to stay pretty heavily distributed moving forward and so virtual volunteering.

 

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Joel Pollick: There still as a place and we're getting back to in person, but virtual volunteering is just really great at connecting distributed employees to each other, and then the US as well to the communities that you know the company wants to serve and support.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Well, I just feel like i've learned so much about your company and the great ways that you're impacting the environments you serve the companies are serving and the not for profit safe space, as well as, of course.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Your client companies so that's really just wonderful now, what is your next goal post Where are you hoping to get from here.

 

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Joel Pollick: that's a great question for for us.

 

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Joel Pollick: And I think you might a teammate of mine, sent a podcast that Simon cynics was on and I don't know if you're familiar with i'm sure you know the name but.

 

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Joel Pollick: Very funny.

 

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Joel Pollick: He was talking about, it was this recent book and he was talking about the kind of difference between the why and the vision.

 

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Joel Pollick: so that you know the wise, the thing that kind of you know, gets you up in the morning and for us it was this premise of okay.

 

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Joel Pollick: Corporate Social Responsibility social impact workplace philanthropy whatever you want to call it.

 

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Joel Pollick: Is should be optimal for every major stakeholder for the employee for the company and for the nonprofit in that when we walked into this market that's wasn't the way that it worked, and so our Why is, how can we continually make that.

 

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Joel Pollick: Pardon me optimal for every every one of these major stakeholder groups and our vision is to make.

 

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Joel Pollick: That that every business in America has a social impact program so that's as he was describing it's inherently somewhat unattainable I don't think we're going to be powering a social impact program for every single business and in the country, that would be terrific if we did so, hopefully.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Well it's a good.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: So yeah.

 

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yeah that's the aspiration.

 

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Joel Pollick: And in the interim now for us it's it's just continuing to kind of expand the size of organization, we work with you know Initially it was more so startup focused and then we realized.

 

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Joel Pollick: that we need to go a little bit larger and so like 100 to 1000 person companies where where we've been focused, for the past year or so and and then what we realized into this year is.

 

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Joel Pollick: That it's even companies larger than that that even.

 

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Joel Pollick: So many of the smaller companies have like a cares team or Culture Committee some of that like DIY CSR kind of more ad hoc so let's help them, provide them the team and tools they need to.

 

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Joel Pollick: make these programs measurable marketable more engaging and then we thought that the bigger companies that maybe have one or two Corporate Social Responsibility employees.

 

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Joel Pollick: were already set in that there might not be a need there, but what we're realizing is quite the opposite, that even for some of those larger 1000 5000 10,000 employee.

 

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Joel Pollick: Businesses or enterprises, they still have a very real need to either support their social impact staff with the tools necessary to actually know if these programs are successful and be able to show the impact of them.

 

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Joel Pollick: or many of them simply don't have any technology or tools in place to power things like matching donations and.

 

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Joel Pollick: So, for us, how can we continue to.

 

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Joel Pollick: kind of almost land and expand and work with more companies and even larger companies that don't want to do the DIY CSR anymore, and want to make it.

 

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Joel Pollick: Just more simple and easy for their employees to to both make and be able to measure with those impact reports we mentioned the positive impact that.

 

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Joel Pollick: That they want.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Well that's great now part of the purpose of.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: This show.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: is to inspire people and sometimes that comes from really unlikely places so i'd like to ask you a final question.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: If you could point your finger to one thing you're particularly proud of in your personal life What would it be.

 

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Joel Pollick: In my personal life.

 

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Joel Pollick: that's a great question.

 

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Joel Pollick: it's i'm smiling a little bit because my My answer is my relationship with my partner Emily.

 

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Joel Pollick: And we live in New York, which means our one bedroom apartment is two rooms so she's probably listening in and cringing as i'm sharing that answer, but that would be we've been together for six and a half years and I it's not easy.

 

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Joel Pollick: it's kind of being together with a you know, a founder someone who's trying to build in the startup as we are, and I would have never had.

 

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Joel Pollick: The confidence to first do this and then persist through to where we've gotten to now if it wasn't with her support so that's probably the one thing i'm most proud of.

 

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Joel Pollick: That we're still together and building a life together and and, in addition to that an offshoot is the other team Member we've got here our one year old puppy penny, who is a pandemic dog, like everyone else, got.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: yeah I already have mine, so we we got a pandemic lizard so.

 

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Joel Pollick: Oh, there you go so that's everyone has their their pandemic animal maybe that they added, but we both we both grew up with dogs and.

 

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Joel Pollick: And didn't I wanted to get one for years without were knocked at one until way later and then.

 

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Joel Pollick: We sort of serendipitously came across.

 

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Joel Pollick: penny in new Mexico, when we were there during the pandemic because emily's family lives there and.

 

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Joel Pollick: It reversed Emily was now the one who said, we have to go get this dog I we just put our name on a waitlist on a whim, and we ended up being the first people that could adopt her.

 

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Joel Pollick: So we've added penny to the clan and and even started to use that in some of some of the work stuff now for any error pages or things like that or even some of our communications to users.

 

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Joel Pollick: They are communicating with penny the pledge bought that we built out so she's making her imprint on percent pledge as well.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: So before we wrap things up, I like to offer my guests, the floor.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: To bring either something up that you wish i'd asked you about or if you just want to go ahead and sum up what you would have our audience take away with them as they go about their merry ways, yes, you have the floor it's yours.

 

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Joel Pollick: Well, thank you gosh this is, I feel like i'm trying to rack my brain and make sure that I make the most use of this time really would I don't think be anything surprising or new.

 

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Joel Pollick: If you listen to have gotten to this point in the conversation and have been tuned in throughout the rest.

 

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Joel Pollick: I think I would just want them to know that there is options out there for companies that.

 

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Joel Pollick: want to do good, and also that are hearing from employees hey it would be great if we could connect with each other through volunteering or it would be great if I could.

 

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Joel Pollick: Bring my favorite cars with me to the office you know employees spend most of their time working or in their job and.

 

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Joel Pollick: And what a lot of companies don't realize is a majority of people are philanthropically active in some way now, and so, if you're a business owner or.

 

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Joel Pollick: A member of an HR people team out there, please understand that.

 

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Joel Pollick: If you don't already know this, if you ask them your employees will let you know that that they are eager and currently active when it comes to philanthropy and giving back.

 

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Joel Pollick: And the the big kind of change that that we've helped usher in is when percent pledge started there was only there's about five giving platforms.

 

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Joel Pollick: That still exists big players in the space that just cater to the fortune 500 and they're very complex expensive systems built for corporate social responsibility admins, and so we said all right well.

 

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Joel Pollick: that's when when we interviewed hundreds of companies about this that's overkill that doesn't make sense for a company of 100 or 500 or even 1000.

 

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Joel Pollick: And so let's bring something to the market that's, as we said earlier customizable affordable for those companies for businesses of any size and.

 

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Joel Pollick: that's a often and piece that when we're talking through with customers and.

 

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Joel Pollick: and different companies is not realizing that that change has been made and that there is now a way for even if you're just 10 or 20 or 30 employees.

 

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Joel Pollick: To be able to.

 

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Joel Pollick: engage employees and giving and tell your your company wide story of philanthropy.

 

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Joel Pollick: In a way, that's easy for employees and zero to manage for the admins because we don't want to be putting more work on our clients plates.

 

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Joel Pollick: So yeah that would be the only thing, and if folks want to learn more are our website I think you've already provided but percent pledge.org or across.

 

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Joel Pollick: Any of the social media platforms at percent pledge is our handle and we would love to to engage and learn from and speak with any you know of your amazing community of do gooders that we're talking to here today.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Well, thank you Joel I know I personally am putting together a list of my preferred charities to send your way and hopes that you can make sure they're on your vetted list of preferred charities.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: I also just want to let you know i'll be including links for everything you've mentioned in our show notes, including direct links to all of your social platforms.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: I wish you and everyone at present pledge, all the best, as you continue down this path it's an admirable road to pursue I know it hasn't come overnight, and while you're only a few years, and you have so much further to go, so thank you so much for spending, this time with me today.

 

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Joel Pollick: Thank you, I appreciate it kareena this was a this was a lot of fun, so thank you for having me.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Thank you now listeners I like to invite you all to act as I often say it doesn't have to be huge it could be as simple as sharing this podcast with people in your community that you think could benefit from hearing it.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: Or you could go to percent pledge.org and open your own personal account to find suggestions like these, and more visit care more be better calm.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: There you'll find an action page with causes and companies that we encourage you to support, including percent pledge.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: And I invite all of you to join the conversation and be a part of the Community we're building on clubhouse you can follow us at care more be better just leave out that final E and better.

 

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Corinna Bellizzi: And you can even email me at Hello at care more be better calm, I want to hear from you, thank you listeners now and always for being a part of this pod and this Community because, together, we really can do so much more.

Joel Pollick

CEO & Founder, Percent Pledge

Joel Pollick, Founder & CEO of Percent Pledge, grew up in philanthropy with his father, Marc Pollick, founding The Giving Back Fund in 1997. With this in mind, and his experience in sales, B2B SaaS, and strategy, Joel founded Percent Pledge as a B2C company providing a better and easier way to give back to any and several nonprofits with a ‘subscription for giving.’ After a year, thoughtful strategy, user tests, and much more, Percent Pledge pivoted as a B2B company, becoming the first solution to create social impact programs that are customizable and affordable for businesses of any size.