The give economy: How these CEOs find time for philanthropy

John Siegel

Running a tech company is hard business. For CEOs, finding time to do anything besides being the boss is nearly impossible.

But a few local CEOs have found time to not only balance their roles within their businesses, but also actively support notable charities and causes. We spoke to four CEOs about why they make time to volunteer, fundraise or donate for these charities — read on for more details.

 

adQuadrant CEO Warren Jolly and his family have a mantra: “The secret to living is giving.” Jolly first started raising money for charities in India before focusing on causes in his adopted home town in Orange County.

What causes do you actively support?

There are a few that I’m active with. In addition to Impact Schools and the American Red Cross, I work with Shatterproof, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting addiction, and Caterina's Club, an Anaheim-based nonprofit that provides food for underserved children in the area.

When did you become active in your philanthropic efforts?

As an emerging entrepreneur in my mid 20s, I began receiving exposure to the philanthropic world through my father, who established the mantra with my siblings and me that the secret to living is giving. From donating to charities in our homeland of India, to supporting various causes as a donor, contributor and member here in the U.S., I have felt a profound benefit to seeing others smile and do better with their lives.

Do you think your dedication to causes that matter personally to you are reflected in adQuadrant?

Yes, absolutely. Most recently, we did a company-wide fundraise for Shatterproof and rappelled down a 16-story building here in Newport Beach as a team to show our support for the cause.

 

Philanthropy is at the core of what Pledgeling does. The Venice-based startup has developed a SaaS platform that allows brands to incorporate social causes in order to engage their audiences and make an impact in their community. CEO James Citron has always made time for volunteering, and now he runs a company that is dedicated to the same causes he finds important.

What causes do you actively support?

My personal passion lies in addressing the issues of homelessness, clean water and renewable energy and now I run a company which has the ability to raise funds for and make an impact on virtually every cause and nonprofit out there. Over the last 18 months alone, I’m proud to share that we've helped facilitate donations that resulted in providing over 540,000 meals to those in need and clean drinking water to over 4,600 people, and helped remove nearly 70,000 pounds of trash from beaches.

When did you become active in philanthropic efforts?

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I was struck by the amount of devastation in our own country and wanted to do something to help. So I grabbed some friends and we threw an impromptu fundraiser that raised a few thousand dollars for the American Red Cross. That experience, and the ability to rally people together in an instant for a cause has always stuck with me. Ten years later, after building and selling two mobile companies here in LA, I felt it was time to combine my love for building mobile platforms with a passion for giving back to create an amazing company that has a major impact on the world. Serendipitously, the site of my first charity fundraiser from 2005 is directly across the street from our office on Abbott Kinney!

Do you think your dedication to causes that matter personally to you is reflected in Pledgeling?

Absolutely! I came to Pledgeling because I wanted to use my background to make a positive impact on the world, and it is core to the DNA of our company. Every single person at the company comes to work every day with the understanding that we’re laser-focused on building a high-growth technology company and empowering brands to integrate social impact into their core business, the results of which are helping to end illiteracy, feed the hungry and unlock the funds necessary to better our world. It’s an incredible feeling for our entire team to come together behind this mission. 

 

Forbes once ran an article describing Belkin President and CEO Chet Pipkin as “the Wealthiest Tech Entrepreneur You’ve Never Heard Of.” Given the company’s humble origins, Pipkin probably doesn’t mind. For him, volunteering isn’t about just helping those in need — it’s about planting the seeds for others to do the same.

What causes do you actively support?

The safety, health and welfare of our children and giving them an equal opportunity at life. I am interested in closing the achievement gap and decreasing generational bias so that everybody has an equal shot of realizing their full potential.

When did you become active in your philanthropic efforts?

It has always been in my DNA. I started off in the Cub Scouts as an eight-year-old and really embraced the service elements of the scouts program. I’ll never forget fundraising for the annual trade show for scouting, Scout-O-Rama, going door to door to sell tickets and being shocked at the number of rejections that I received. It impacted me so deeply that nowadays if there is a kid selling anything, be it lemonade or cookies, I will buy it. In high school, I was a part of the Key Club and worked with many programs affiliated with the YMCA.

Do you think your dedication to causes that matter personally to you is reflected in how Belkin is run?

I sure hope so. My philosophy for management is always people inspired and people first.

Is there any advice you would give tech employees about getting involved?

Be authentic and genuine; think about what matters to you and what gives you a reward. You really can’t go wrong. If nothing feels authentic or genuine, try something anyway. Try a few times. You’re crazy if you don’t at least try getting involved in giving back.

 

Chris Pouy didn’t create his e-commerce startup, Peluches, just because of the unique concept his dog accidentally brought to his attention. He did it as a way to support local animal shelters. Though less than a year old, the startup donates a “Peluche” toy to local shelters for each one sold, something that Pouy admits is quite therapeutic.

What causes do you actively support?

The ones where I can see the results in person and instantly. Anyone can donate to the Red Cross, but it's so impersonal. There's a big difference between writing a check and putting on an apron and serving food to homeless people. To be able to look someone in the eye and have them say thank you makes all the difference.

When did you become active in your philanthropic efforts?

In college, I volunteered to plant trees in Lake Ponchartrain, Louisiana during Spring Break. Trust me, I would have much rather been drinking beers on the beach with my buddies, but I felt like it was something I had to do at least once. It was a great experience, but again I couldn't see the results at the time. By now, the trees are probably full grown, but at that moment I didn't really feel like I was making an impact.

Do you think your dedication to causes that matter personally to you is reflected in Peluches?

Definitely. Whether it's a person, a tree or a dog, I think gratitude is universal. I'll never forget when I rescued one of my dogs, Rambo, from the side of the road. I carried him home, gave him a bath and laid him down in a dog bed. He looked at me with grateful eyes, exhaled and put his paw on my shoulder. I don't speak dog but I'm pretty sure he said thank you. Now I get that feeling every time I clip a Peluche inside a shelter dog’s cage.

 

Images via participating companies and social media.

Have a news tip for us or know of a company that deserves coverage? Let us know and follow us on Twitter @BuiltInLA.

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