“What are those things you are holding?” That was the reply I received from my 87-year-old mother when I texted her a picture of me and a Gold Medalist athlete, Jami Marseilles. I replied, “Mom, those ‘things’ are her running legs and she is an Olympic marathoner!” And then, very predictably, my mom diverted the conversation with “I still don’t get what you do at work” and then offered the weather in Detroit as our next topic.
The positive impact that philanthropy and giving-back has on organization performance is certainly not news, but it is on the rise. Just read The Business of Changing the World by Marc Benioff if you want to hear how leading corporations are making a dramatic impact on millions of lives and benefiting at the same time. I experienced this nearly six years ago at Demandbase when we launched a program to pack meals for developing countries in our San Francisco office through an organization called Rise Against Hunger. The team-building that went on to pack 10,000 lunches in less than 2.5 hours was profound and more memorable than any ropes course I’ve experienced. But it was from that point in time forward that we have truly embraced giving-back to change lives as a core value.
Today, I’m excited to launch a new corporate giving initiative where Demandbase will donate technology, resources and our unique ABM expertise to the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), an organization that helps people with physical challenges lead active, healthy lifestyles. As an avid runner and cycling enthusiast, sports have been an important part of my life, my identity and my community. CAF’s belief that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence, and enhances the quality of life rings true to me, as I’ve personally experienced the way in which sports makes people feel whole. And at Demandbase, we have a running club, cycling club, and many sports enthusiasts at the company who too feel personally connected to CAF’s mission. For CAF, they get to leverage technology to increase awareness across a set of companies showing increased intent in giving who may not already be involved or aware of CAF. Further, the people within those organizations with interests in sports and corporate giving can be prioritized.
I was introduced to CAF by way of a Board Member and venture capitalist, Bob Spinner at Jackson Square Ventures, and I was immediately struck by the amazing and inspiring stories of the athletes that CAF supports. To-date, CAF has reached over 20 million people and provided over 26,000 grants to individuals with physical challenges get access to sports. The organization supports athletes at every level and ability, from recreation and youth to elite and Paralympian athletes, with grants, camps & clinics and mentorship. CAF provides grants that cover the costs of adaptive sports equipment for a wide range of challenged athletes, including cancer survivors, military and first responders, those with spinal cord injuries, visual impairment, limb loss and differences, cerebral palsy, and more. Watch a few of their stories here and I guarantee you will be inspired.
Now for the fun part. This past weekend, we kicked off our partnership by joining CAF’s running team at the Giant Race in San Francisco that included more than 15,000 runners. I participated in the 10K and clipped along at a typical over 50 year old pace and was blown away to see Steven (athlete in red wheelchair below) pass me on the return with an almost 2 mile lead. But even more inspiring was to talk to Steven before the race and hear his day-to-day life story and the positive impact CAF donations have made.
As we head into Fall, Demandbase employees will continue to run races and volunteer our time to support CAF, but as a company, we will leverage our technology to help CAF to develop an ABM strategy to generate new partnerships and increase corporate giving. I am confident we will make a difference and will share the results of for CAF in the coming months. If you’d like to learn more about CAF or get involved with this amazing organization, please visit www.challengedathletes.org/get-involved/.