Shervin Pishevar and Matt Galligan have just formally announced the beta launch of their new organization 1% of Nothing. It’s aimed at inspiring early-stage companies to donate 1% of their equity to a cause of their choice. The idea is that startups pledge 1% when that equity may be worth nothing, but if they’re acquired, that 1% becomes a significant donation. Starting today, whole companies and individual employees alike can make the pledge to donate 1% of their equity.
Serial entrepreneur, VC, and TechCrunch contributor Pishevar met Galligan, cofounder and former CEO of SimpleGeo, after Galligan accidentally attended a philanthropy panel during Summit at Sea. They saw initiatives pushing individual micro-donations and corporate philanthropy, but wanted to encourage giving from the startups in between.
When asked what’s broken with startup philanthropy at present, Galligan told me, “It’s mostly nonexistent. There’s no way of knowing whether they’re doing it unless they post about their donation on a website.” The hope is that by shining a light on who’s contributing, it will become the norm and more entrepreneurs will join the movement. He doesn’t see his organization as a competitor but more as a complement to Entrepreneur’s Foundation and others with similar goals.
Galligan had already seen the potential of the 1% model. He pledged 1% of the equity of his first company SocialThing. When it got acquired by AOL, that pledge became the year’s biggest single donation to the Community Foundation of Boulder, helping it to successfully push a proposition to fund local at-risk schools.
Now Galligan and Pishevar are hoping more companies and employees will follow suit. In addition to equity, they can pledge to donate 1% of their time or profits. Along with the warm, fuzzy feeling of making the world a better place, the site explains that “the entrepreneur that donates their 1% actually gets a tax write-off benefit, sweetening the deal even more.” If entrepreneurs aren’t sure what to donate to, the organization will help them identify efficient causes making a big impact.
The 1% of Nothing team is now dedicated to driving awareness and understanding of early-stage corporate philanthropy and showing off who’s participating. The first startups are already jumping on board: