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Beyond #GivingTuesday: A Program for Systematic Charity

DesignMap DesignMap 3 min read

Tomorrow marks the tenth annual #GivingTuesday: “a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.”

We love seeing the season of charity inspire businesses and people, but like so many others, have found ourselves wondering how to maintain charitable work beyond holidays and/or (unfortunately) in moments of tragedy.

Most charities exist to serve the underserved. And the truth is, people need help 365 days a year.

Reflecting on Organizational Giving 

There was quite a social reckoning in 2020 and it forced us to reevaluate our role in supporting social justice—even after the headlines subsided. 

We all have our individual and personal ways we react and help, but how do we as an organization respond? We asked ourselves: Is it the most helpful thing to be so reactive, acting one-by-one when these events occur? How much can our leadership team know where all of DesignMap’s hearts are, and which issues we each find important?

DesignMap Partners began to talk about when and how we react to flare-ups in issues that we care about, and if we’d like to add a proactive, “baseline” component to what we do. We want to give ourselves an opportunity to impact issues we care about (whether they have a trending hashtag or not). And we wanted to do so while maintaining the flexibility to act decisively when topics reach a peak of urgency for the world or just for us as people. 

Before 2020, DesignMap did make some contributions to charity. We used our pop-up coffee shop over several years to raise money for the local Boys and Girls Club, Downtown Streets, and the Homeless Prenatal Program

We volunteered our time for Adaptive Path’s Barn Raise—a maker conference where nonprofits and designers worked together to tackle a challenge within nonprofit organizations. We also volunteered our time and our space for students attending San Francisco public schools through First Graduate, just up the street from us. And we’ve contributed design resources to groups like The Inneract Project, which empowers marginalized students of color through design education. 

But these feel a bit like “sporadic charity.” As good as it feels to help, it also feels reactionary and even unfair—so many issues are worth giving to!

Building a Habit of Giving

Our goal became to build a systematic habit of giving into DesignMap. That means:

  • Seeking educational opportunities for ourselves.
  • Providing a financial giving platform that isn’t solely designed for reactionary giving.
  • Supporting the values of our team and being flexible in where we focus our giving.

Over the years, we’ve recognized where we’ve “accidentally” built charitable habits that we can maintain, put in place some changes, and set some goals for the future.

Maintaining What We Do Today

We’re continuing to support great causes like those mentioned above and have also created a more consistent space for continuous charitable donations. 

During our weekly company standup, we give “Pure Gold” to one another to recognize work that’s above and beyond or simply really great. Recipients “spin” a digital wheel, and for every spin, we donate $5 to the charity it lands on. Charity nominations are sourced from our staff and we track the contributions via an internal Miro board to share how we’ve contributed to the cause they care most about.

Making Some Changes

  • We’ve started to prioritize workshops and talks at DM that help us learn more about diversity, discrimination, and biases, and give us a better understanding.
  • We are working with our clients to introduce diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) concepts into the work we do.
  • Partner(s) regularly support internal educational programs to learn about people and issues we may not be entirely familiar with—AAPI, Women’s History, BLM, Hispanic Heritage, and more. These are shared through Slack posts and as part of our weekly Friday all-hands.
  • The Partners will also support quarterly DesignMap-sponsored charitable works (adopt-a-family, volunteering at a food bank or park, etc.).
  • Partners meet quarterly to check in on whether we’re making our commitment to social good, and expand that commitment to include gender and identity bias.

….and More in 2023

And moving forward, we’re formalizing a DesignMap matching program that will match up to $10k of our employees’ charitable donations annually. We’re also giving employees two paid-days off annually to donate time to a cause of their choice (~$180k / year).

None of this is perfect, but we’re humbled and grateful to contribute to making the world a better, more equitable, more supportive place. And we’re grateful to work with a team of people who feel the same!

So, consider overindulging in the giving season—and maybe ask yourself how you can continue to spread goodness all year long.