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|Friday, September 01, 2006|
A new generation of hope
New startup companies get it right with early philanthropic goals.
By Dave Squire
Every company I’ve ever worked at had commitment to the community somewhere in its mission statement — but it wasn’t supposed to be taken too seriously. It took me about 20 years to figure that out. When I volunteered in the community, the response was, “That’s great; we fully support you.” Silently, they added, “As long as it doesn’t take any time away from work or cost money. But please feel free to use the company name.”
But a new generation of entrepreneurs is changing that. As president of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of the Northwest, I’ve been blown away by the commitment of these new philanthropists. They are the leaders and employees of entrepreneurial startup companies who believe that getting involved with the community early on is a vital part of their corporate strategy.
These companies also lead by example by encouraging and demonstrating volunteerism. They have paid time-off policies for employee volunteers, corporate volunteer councils, matching giving programs, and HR policies that encourage and reward community involvement. And they have executives who are directly involved.
One such company is Clarity Visual Systems, a tech company in Wilsonville, acquired by Planar systems in July. Paul Gulick, the CEO and founder, is involved in Clarity’s community involvement program and chairs its Give Back to the Community committee. Clarity has a strategic focus for involvement, a matching gift program, time off for volunteerism, and includes all of this in its recruiting and promotional materials. Clarity is a fairly mature startup, but some companies have jumped into our community involvement programs before they’ve even completed our membership process (which includes granting future stock options for a company donor-directed fund).
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