Tech startups pledge to spread the wealth

Starting at the pre-IPO stage, global movement promotes corporate philanthropy, a little at a time.

joanne gebal for the boston globe

Revenue and profit are critical to every business.

The Boston Foundation wants charitable giving to be a key company benchmark, too.

That’s why last year it launched Pledge 1% Boston, now run jointly with Technology Underwriting Greater Good, an effort to promote corporate philanthropy, especially among the next generation of wealthy tech entrepreneurs. It’s part of a global movement in which participating companies or their founders promise to donate 1 percent of their equity to charity if they’re bought or go public. Donations can be in the form of nonprofit grants, matching employee gifts, volunteer time, or free or discounted products and services.


“It’s making sure that some of your future wealth goes to people in the communities that need it most,” says Tim Smith, director of Pledge 1% Boston and the Boston Foundation’s director of innovation partnerships. “We’re encouraging companies of every size to incorporate giving back to the community in their DNA.” At least 25 local companies are on board so far, including Accomplice, CoachUp, Cuseum, Freebird, FundLatinos, Gravyty, Nanogenecs, Ovuline, and Pepper Lane, and the number is expected to reach 75 by the end of this year.

“My goal,” adds Smith, “is that every business in this region, as they’re incorporating, sets aside 1 percent of their equity for giving back — that it’s just the new normal.”

Sacha Pfeiffer is a Globe staff writer. Send comments to Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.