The Community Foundation: nurturing inspired giving in Boulder County…and beyond

Contributed by Seth Levine 
EFCO Founding Board Member
Co-Founder of Pledge 1%
Managing Director, Foundry Group 

Seth Levine
Seth Levine

I blog a lot about community: entrepreneurial, local, national, international, social, etc. The short takeaway is that a group of people acting together towards a common goal can have a far greater impact than they expect – and certainly more than they would acting alone. I often use a great scene in the movie Office Space to illustrate this point.

An outgrowth of The Community Foundation’s EFCO initiative – Entrepreneurs Foundation of ColoradoPledge 1% is a movement that’s caught fire among community-minded entrepreneurs around the world, helping startups set aside 1% of equity, 1% of employee time to volunteerism, and 1% of product to benefit their local communities. We’ve seen immense success in our Colorado community that can be traced directly back to EFCO and Pledge 1%...and now we’re seeing the movement spread around the globe through the Pledge 1% initiative.

If you think about any great startup, they tend to share certain common traits. In particular, once they figure out the formula for success, it’s natural to want to scale that as far and as wide as possible. We’re doing that with Pledge 1%. After a fantastic startup year where we were housed within The Community Foundation, it’s time to spin off Pledge 1% so it can truly scale globally. To accomplish this, we’ve chosen Tides to house the organization and to ensure its continued global growth – even as EFCO continues to operate under the umbrella of The Community Foundation, working as the entry point for Colorado companies inspired to join the movement.

EFCO is tightly connected to The Community Foundation, and I’ve seen firsthand the foundation’s crucial role in providing the foresight, expertise and resources needed to test the premise and scalability of the EFCO model. I’m both impressed and thankful that the foundation recognized the broader potential of EFCO, and galvanized around it alongside some big players – including the Salesforce Foundation, Atlassian, and Rally for Impact.

The Community Foundation provides the kind of nurturing that’s needed to launch and grow innovative ideas – in this case, EFCO’s paving the way for startup companies to give back to their communities has ignited action worldwide. For entrepreneurs passionate about giving back to the communities in which they build their businesses, the potential is endless.

Case in point: via EFCO, the Foundry Group – an investment firm in early-stage tech startups – made a gift of $300,000 to Boulder County nonprofits last summer in response to a 62% funding cut from Foothills United Way. This is just one of a number of gifts that Foundry has channeled through the EFCO program. And this is the kind of impact that drives EFCO members: filling the gaps affecting local nonprofits, helping individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet, and strengthening the very communities that have contributed to our own success. All told, since its founding eight years ago, EFCO – more than 100 members strong – has generated more than $4M for local nonprofits.

It starts with being community-minded, and The Community Foundation has long fostered the notion of giving locally. The success of EFCO and rapid spread of Pledge 1% bear witness to the fact that we can accomplish more together than we do alone – right here at home, and in “local” communities around the world. I invite you to learn more at efcolorado.org and pledge1percent.org. Join the movement and make an impact!