Our Donation Policy

This post is part of a series about our VERY FEW company policies. Read this intro post for some context.


While we're not quite big enough yet to sponsor NOVA or Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!, we're still committed to trying to be good citizens. :)

We've been giving out software since day one to "do-gooders" and have made some other donations along the way, but this year during out retreat, we met to discuss how we could more fully meet our commitment in our manifesto.

After a lively and wonderful discussion, we developed a little donation policy, below.

It's not quite perfect yet: we'd love to be able to have the hours in the day to make donations to many more organizations, and of course giving MORE money will be awesome. And Marco's dream for the entire team spread out in three countries being involved on the same project, giving our time as well as money? Hopefully we'll get there someday! ;)

For now our goals reached are:

  1. Make donations in an amount that should have a significant impact on an organization.
  2. Make donations personal, so that the choices represent the unique make up of the cares and concerns of our little Balsamiq family.

Here's our current donation policy:

Each year, every full-time employee can chose one non-profit organization for the company
to make a contribution. The amount of the contribution will be 2% percent of the prior year
profits divided by the number of full-time employees.

That 2% might not seem much, but it resulted in 9 donations of roughly $3,000 each this year, and it will be bigger in 2012.

And what fun it has been for Joy and I as the Balsamiq bean counters to curate this process! It has been a pleasure for me to see each choice made by my fellow team member. It has been an honor to be able to help make the donations, and helps us feel closer to our colleagues spread around the globe.

Here are the organizations we donated to this year, with a quick message from each of us:

Joy - 7th Grade class, Sacramento, CA
I decided to pick my daughters class. The money will be used so that all the kids can go on all the field trips together even if their parents can't afford to contribute to the class fund.

Louanne - The Pet Rescue Center, Mission Viejo, CA
I recently moved to Southern California with my two elderly Maine Coon cats. I knew there would come a time soon when I would need a competent, kind and gentle vet to help help me care for my dear, sweet Sune. Sune and I arrived at the exact right place at the exact right time. As a way of thanking the staff at the Alicia Pet Care Center, I made my donation to The Pet Rescue Center they run.

Luis - ARAA, Rueil, France
ARAA is a non-profit that helps pets, mainly stray cats, by feeding them, sterlizing them and helping them to find a home. I learned about ARAA one day when we first had our dog Zoé, and looking for someone reliable who could keep her while we were in the US on vacation. I saw how devoted they are to their cause and I wanted to reach out and say thanks.

Marco - CEFA, Bologna, Italy
I chose an organization here in Bologna that does development work in nations around the globe.

Mike - Nature Conservancy, Plant a Billion Trees, Arlington, VA
This year I let my son pick the beneficiary for my donation, and he chose The Nature Conservancy. Since the end of the summer he has been trying to get the word out about their Plant a Billion Trees drive, whose goal is to plant a billion trees in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. We have hopes that this donation helps reach that goal.

Natalie - California 4-H Foundation, Merced County, CA
4-H has made a huge impact on me and many members of my family. My uncle is about to retire after running the program in Merced County for decades. He has particularly spearheaded curricula in science and technology, so I thought this was the perfect mix for Balsamiq and me. The donation will go towards scholarships for low-income 4-H members in his county.

Paolo - CBM, Italy
My wife and I have always had sight problems since we were kids, and my father also had eye surgery last year. We decided to donate to this organization that helps to prevent and cure blindness in young people all over the world.

Peldi - UNICEF, Italy
After much deliberation I decided to donate to UNICEF this year after listening to the head of the UNICEF Bologna chapter talk about the various programs they are working on. Although it's a big organization, I feel that a large enough part of my donation is going towards helping children in need around the world.

Val - Peninsula Temple Sholom, Burlingame, CA
Last year, my daughter asked if a friend could come home with her after school, and maybe spend the night. She had lost her home that weekend. Her dad was scrambling for a place. She ended up staying with us for a few weeks, and my family was the first Jewish family she had ever met. A few weeks later, I was at our Temple one evening when they were providing emergency shelter to homeless families, and I found she was there, with her dad. The Temple does so many good things for so many people, Jewish or not. I am proud to be associated with them.


Happy New Year everyone!
Natalie for the Balsamiq team

Comments (1)

  1. Incubators/ angels/ mentors are an important part of a new startup.

    Like you have this donation program, it might be an idea to donate your own software to such startups and use the concept of “give forward” of their own product to some one who is needy at a later date.

    This way, your own program of giving away software free ( as much as possible) gets multiplier effect.

    Give forward is a new initiative, where one pays for another like in a restaurant, i pay for another person’s meal and move on, not knowing who that beneficiary is going to be !

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