Advocating for more engaged philanthropy

Devoting 1% of its employees’ time, 1% of its products or services, 1% of its profits and 1% of its actions to community or humanitarian organizations, this is the bet taken by companies that decide to engage in Pledge 1% program, which originated in Australia, but has quickly spread around the world since its large-scale launch in 2014.

It is a young Australian company designing and publishing collaboration software, Atlassian, which developed in 2006 this new concept of a corporate philanthropy model which seeks to fully engage the firms which decide to implement it. .

At the time, Atlassian was an emerging company that had been founded four years earlier by young idealists who had promised themselves they would never work for a company that had strict hours or a dress code.

Today, Atlassian is a firm with more than 260,000 clients worldwide, a market capitalization of more than US$50 billion and which generated net profit of US$500 million for its 2023 financial year.

Its commitment to disburse 1% of its profits and commit 1% of its market valuation to humanitarian works is starting to become significantly important for the organizations that benefit from it each year.

Since its official launch in 2014, the Pledge 1% program has united thousands of companies in more than 100 countries with its model of corporate philanthropy. Here, Coveo, the Quebec company that develops and distributes software powered by artificial intelligence, has joined the movement.

“It was when I recruited Shanti Ariker, the former Chair of, to serve on our board in 2020 that I discovered Pledge 1%. Salesforce participated in the launch of the program,” explains Louis Têtu, CEO of Coveo, who joined the philanthropic program in 2021.

This year, Coveo has just crossed the $1 million mark in monetary donations to the organizations it has supported for three years through the Pledge 1% program.

This contribution does not take into account the time given by employees to organizations, the 1% of Coveo shares which were transferred to a foundation and the 1% in services that the company offers free of charge to the community nor the 1% of the profit sharing, because Coveo is not yet making a profit.

“We will soon be profitable. Our business solutions based on AI platforms that are used for e-commerce, customer service or workplace management are used by more than 700 large companies around the world, and we will sell 1% of our profits and possibly our dividends to finance the causes we have chosen,” anticipates the tech entrepreneur.

A more embodied company

“When we issued our 250 million shares in 2021, I warned our large shareholders, six or seven venture capital investment funds, plus our employees and management, that we were going to join Pledge 1%, and they all agreed.

“We had a valuation of 1.7 billion at the time of the issue and we paid 1% into a foundation which manages our monetary donations,” continues Louis Têtu.

For the Coveo team, the active participation and commitment of everyone in the Pledge 1% program has a unifying effect, people work for a committed company.

“It’s more engaging to give your time and choose the causes that are important to us than to send a check for $50,000 to a cause,” emphasizes the entrepreneur.

The philanthropic program committee decided to mainly support the financing of organizations and initiatives that revolve around the education sector, and to support initiatives that aim to reduce inequalities in society, both here at home, in Quebec, and everywhere in the world.

We are thinking here of the organization Pour 3 Points, which offers young people the opportunity to develop their full potential in disadvantaged environments, or of the international organization Room to Read, which finances access to education for girls throughout the world. world. In total, a dozen organizations have benefited from funding from Coveo.

The company, which has more than 700 employees in its offices in Quebec and Montreal, gives people the choice of the organizations to which they wish to devote their time, whether it is the Welcome Hall Mission, food banks or community support.

Coveo puts its software at the service of several organizations such as Alloprof, which provides resources to children aged 6 to 17 and their parents, as well as Actua, an organization which promotes the learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Louis Têtu believes that the Pledge 1% corporate philanthropy model could be reproduced in several Quebec public companies to help improve their image and ensure a more embodied presence in their community.

“We generate 97% of our revenues outside of Canada, but we are involved in our living environments as we do by supporting international organizations. According to a Queen’s University study, 84% of Canadians believe businesses should do more to address issues of inequality and meet people’s needs. We need to give back more,” argues Louis Têtu.


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