How Austin Tech Companies Are Supporting Their Communities

April 6, 2020
#UnitedWeTech
Built In

In a world where lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders restrict physical movement, digital technology is filling the void to keep households connected, supplied, entertained and informed. 

But amid the increased demand for digital products and services — and the logistical challenges associated with a massive work-from-home transition — many Austin tech companies have not forgotten those who are struggling right now. We asked local tech leaders to describe how they’re giving back to their communities during this uncertain season, and the responses offer a fine example of the city’s wealth of ingenuity.

Know of a team or company that’s going above and beyond right now? Share the love using #UnitedWeTech.

 

Emily Jansen
Director of Marketing

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

Every month, Pushnami donates a portion of our revenue to local nonprofits. Last week, we donated $10,000 to the Central Texas Food Bank, which will provide meals for up to 40,000 Central Texans. We've also made sure to maintain the memberships for our employee health and wellness perks (like our CrossFit and yoga classes) even though many of these local businesses are closed. 

We made our marketing platform 100-percent free for the next six months. Any online business — especially those based in Austin — is able to use our platform for free with no contracts or credit card required. Our product helps drive more connections and engagement, which is something we all could use a little more of right now.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We've increased our charitable contribution program this month, most recently donating $10,000 to the Central Texas Food Bank. We've always focused on people-first organizations, and this month is no different. 

 

Brandy Pham
Founder & Chief Creative Officer

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

To lend relief to the city we call home and its small business community that we hold dear, we’ve recently announced Designing Change, PLANOLY’s philanthropic initiative. We are launching it with the Local Love Grant, awarding two Austin-based small businesses $5,000 each to help relieve financial hardships due to COVID-19. The winners of the Local Love Grant will also receive a year’s worth of free PLANOLY and one-on-one mentoring sessions with a social marketing expert.

 

How have you adapted, expanded and changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We originally planned to announce our first small business grant for female and non-binary small business owners and entrepreneurs at SXSW this year. Since the change in events, our team quickly pivoted our grant to help local small businesses combat financial hardships due to COVID-19. Moreover, given the time-sensitivity that these citywide closures place on small businesses, we accelerated our Local Love Grant application and review process to reflect the urgency businesses are facing today.

 

Kristina Paiz
Elastic Cares Program Manager

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

With schools closed and plans disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we can help students figure out what to do next. Many are unsure what this will mean for graduation and what the workforce will be like in the coming months. Career Village is a way for us to connect with students, giving them a sense of stability and reassurance.

To do our part, Elastic Cares set up a volunteering opportunity with Career Village on April 1 to encourage Elasticians to share their knowledge of the tech industry and help train the next generation of tech professionals.

Elastic Cares set up a one-hour, live Q&A session on April 1 that was free for students to access. Actually, it was more than one session — advice was given in several time zones, including in North and South America, the EU and the Asia Pacific regions. Career Village has given our Elasticians the opportunity to connect with students and give them a sense of stability and reassurance in these volatile times.

 

How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We're also releasing free and open on-demand courses over the next few weeks. We know social distancing isn't fun, but it can be a great opportunity to learn new things. So while other people are making a second pass through their Netflix queue, you can build your Elastic Stack, observability and security skills and come out the other side an expert. 
  

Jason Kingdon
Executive Chairman

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

Our corporate philanthropic initiative Blue Prism for Good helps communicate a vision to unleash society’s full potential and inspire the future of work through automation. Our four pillars of focus are charity and fundraising, inclusivity, support for nonprofits and education.

We also launched Women in RPA to celebrate the contributions of women at Blue Prism but also women who are succeeding in robotic process automation and the wider technology industry. We also strive to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce by sponsoring women-centered business events, volunteering in our communities and providing learning opportunities for girls interested in technology careers.

 

How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Now more than ever, we all need to work together as a community to get through the unprecedented global challenges COVID-19 presents. With the goal to alleviate some of the challenges our customers are facing, Blue Prism rolled out the Blue Prism COVID-19 Response Program. We are helping by providing digital workers and process automation resources to organizations impacted by COVID-19 to help them maintain critical business continuity. We have helped organizations in the life sciences, public safety and healthcare arena — people on the front lines of this pandemic — by improving the efficiency of healthcare supply purchasing.

Hospital suppliers are reporting greater shortages as well as increased demand for parts due to the COVID-19 crisis and the strain it is placing on the healthcare industry worldwide. Ascension’s purchasing team has seen an 800-percent increase in the cancellations coming from suppliers in recent weeks. In the face of this emergency, intelligent automation leader Agilify Automation is developing an intelligent process for Ascension, with digital workers from Blue Prism, to cancel the purchase order lines and relieve the manual burden the team is facing today. By streamlining a manual, repetitive process, new digital workers are now able to quickly work through the high volume of cancellations, improving purchasing efficiency, decreasing response time and helping the hospital system better administer to patients.

 

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why?

Zello is a push-to-talk voice messaging service that enables collaboration for workers and communities. We have often emerged as a critical tool in times of crisis for coordinating preparedness and rescue efforts, and the current coronavirus pandemic is no exception. 

That’s why we are making our enterprise-grade solution available at no cost to first responders, anywhere in the world. Through our Zello for First Responders program, U.S.-based first responders were previously able to use the professional version of Zello for free. Now we’re opening up the program to first responders around the world. Zello has also mobilized staff to quickly handle the surging demand for the program. 

 

Heather Jin
Global Head of Social Impact

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

Medallia.org is committed to doing our part in relief efforts, and nonprofits are among the most vital yet vulnerable organizations right now. Critical in caring for at-risk populations and helping government agencies understand gaps in services, nonprofits on the front line may be overwhelmed by the increased demand or financially hit due to the volatile economic climate.

We are empowering Medallians to give back to causes they are passionate about through our volunteer time off policy, where every employee has three days per calendar year to volunteer. We have consolidated virtual volunteering opportunities that are of most immediate need. In addition, we will soon be organizing company-wide virtual volunteering events to support those impacted most by COVID-19 — for example, to support and mentor students with career and college advice as schools are closed.

 

How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We are offering Medallia Crowdicity free for six months for all new nonprofit customers. To ensure nonprofits get value immediately, we have pre-packaged the product with COVID-19 specific templates, co-designed with nonprofits, to help organizations crowdsource immediate needs and actionable ideas from their communities on how to prepare the most vulnerable for disasters, engage employees and volunteers remotely and stay financially resilient through crisis. For example, the Alzheimer’s Society is currently using Crowdicity to create a space for people living with dementia and their caretakers to share their unique challenges through COVID-19. 

 

Jared King
CEO & Co-Founder

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

As a small company, we have limited resources for community giving. But we took a look at the developing situation and wanted to do what we could. What we realized is that for many businesses, their cash situation has changed in the blink of an eye. We thought about the many nonprofits that need to continue playing important roles and for whom effectively managing cash has become both more important and more difficult overnight. 

For nonprofits who send invoices for donations or their services, we offer an accounts receivable automation solution that can help them get cash in the door faster and with less effort. So we’re offering our platform to U.S. nonprofits for free until September 16. That gives them up to six months of free use of our system. All they need to do is create a free trial account and email us with their EIN at [email protected] We’re hopeful that nonprofits take us up on this offer so they’ll be equipped with an important toolset for making it through this extremely challenging time.

 

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

In this time of crisis, we wanted to do our part in being of service to three groups: bartenders, who have helped us deliver 3.5 million cocktails over the last four years and currently have no earning potential with bar closures across America, by putting them to work with a livable wage delivering cocktails to homes; consumers, who are stuck inside and now can enjoy a small amount of comfort while responsibly practicing social distancing; and companies and organizations looking for ways to bring their employees together during this period by helping them set up a virtual happy hour. Our Sourced Social Series is a real virtual happy hour that delivers the exact same cocktail to all employees’ homes with an educational live-streamed cocktail demonstration hosted by a local bartender.

 

How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

This pivot to an in-home delivery model is an effort to support our bartenders, who are the face of our craft cocktail company. Bartenders earn 20 percent of each order, which provides them a livable wage in each of the five markets we serve — Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City and Los Angeles.

To support our bartender community nationally, Sourced is also donating an additional 5 percent on top of that to the US Bartender's Guild Bartender Emergency Relief Fund. The USBG has always been the backbone of the bartending community, and the bartending community needs the USBG now more than ever. Today we are honored to continue to contribute based on our consumers' support in drinking our craft cocktails at home.

 

Christina Luconi
Chief People Officer

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

Each of our offices is supporting our local restaurants by hosting trivia and other contests and providing local restaurant gift cards as prizes. Our company has a great love of music, so we are introducing a Friday night concert series and live-streaming musicians to support them. It provides a great opportunity for our people and their families, roommates or other co-habitants to enjoy the power of music, together. 


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We have some well-established relationships with organizations like Hack.Diversity and are continuing to support them — especially now.  

 

Kimberley Storin
Chief Market Officer

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why? 

RapidDeploy is based in both Austin and South Africa. We kicked off our COVID-19-related community efforts by helping the most vulnerable communities impacted by COVID-19 in South Africa. We are doing a RapidDeploy internal challenge to raise money for SAHarvest. For every dollar we collectively raise, RapidDeploy will match that donation up to $5,000. And if we raise more than $5,000 as a team, our CEO will also personally make a $5,000 donation. 

 

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why?

Netsparker (Invicti Security) is offering complimentary licenses of our web application security solution to any organization that is involved in the fight against COVID-19. We want to ensure that organizations on the front lines of the response are able to secure and protect their web applications against threats and bad actors who might otherwise disrupt their ability to provide critical services.

 

Kelsey Peterson
HR & Recruiting Coordinator

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why?

Since our quarterly company meeting will now be remote, we donated our event budget to the Central Texas Food Bank to support their increase in need. We're also encouraging our team to redeem their recognition points from Bonusly for donations to Central Texas Food Bank, which we're matching at 100 percent. 

 

How have you adapted, expanded and changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Earlier this year, we expanded our support of diversity and inclusion in tech, by providing sponsorship for 100 girls to attend Girlstart's STEM Conference. With recent events, our funds are now being reallocated to the areas of most need so that Girlstart can still bring STEM education to girls in underserved areas. We're also promoting our matching donation program internally and providing easy ways to support the WHO COVID-19 Response Fund and local nonprofits like Central Texas Food Bank and Austin Pets Alive.

 

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why?

We believe that the times now call for even more accessible and affordable cloud education for those in need, whether they're an individual looking to change their lives or a global enterprise needing the power to strengthen an adaptive workforce. Therefore, we temporarily reduced the price of A Cloud Guru to keep high-quality education within reach during these difficult times.

 

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why?

We are saddened by the losses people are experiencing, including the economic impact we are seeing in our local community, so our team put together a Support Austin initiative. Our initiative includes an emphasis on hiring local candidates within our own community. Given that we are unable to get together for our typical family-style lunches, we have reallocated our in-office food budget to support local Austin area restaurants via weekly Favor credits for our employees to spend at local restaurants.


How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Our annual community service program includes monetary donations to six local Austin nonprofits, typically paired with a volunteer service event each quarter. In light of the current environment, we have quadrupled our annual donation budget and added 14 new local nonprofits to our program, including those that are directly helping people deal with this crisis in our community. Ultimately, 20 local nonprofit organizations have been selected to receive a $5,000 donation from AlertMedia. 

 

Rachel Hutchisson
VP, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why?

At Blackbaud, we believe the world will be a better place when good takes over, and that’s a higher purpose that’s even more critical during these times. In Austin, our employees are volunteering from a distance. Many are writing cards to seniors, who are so isolated right now. We also have many employees donating blood and plasma, which is in short supply and high demand during the pandemic. One of our employees has volunteered to donate blood plasma to the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project to help seriously ill patients fight the virus. Another one of our employees, who is a regular volunteer with Generation Serve, is supporting their “helping from home” volunteer initiatives, which include creating a “Going on a Bear Hunt” teddy bear scavenger hunt and creating T-shirt bags at home for the Travis County Food Pantries.  

 

How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

Blackbaud’s mission is to empower and connect people through technology to drive impact for social good, which is especially critical during these times. Throughout all major disasters, Blackbaud is on the front lines with its customers and supporting the social good community globally. Blackbaud made a donation to the World Health Organization and the UN Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to put technology in place to fight the spread of the virus. This technology will help track the virus and provide powerful insights into how it is spreading, ensuring patients are getting the care they need, improving the buying and shipping of essential medical supplies and accelerating efforts to develop a vaccine.  

 

Melissa Mormon
Co-Founder & Chief Experience Officer

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why?

Since our founding, giving back has always been at the core of who we are —  and what we do. In many cases, one of our team members will share a cause with us that’s their personal passion. Often, that becomes a passion for many others here. This had led to many enduring relationships with causes that we continue to support today. Typically, we start by giving our time, expertise and sweat equity — as well as funding.

 

How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

In some cases, the company has paused face-to-face giving back at the request of these organizations — and local, state and federal leaders — to help “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus. However, I know each of our many volunteers are eager to resume their hands-on work once we’ve put COVID-19 behind us as a community. Our philosophy of giving back is giving of ourselves and our time through hands-on volunteer work, and as such, we are considering our next partnership with a local organization to help those in need.

 

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now?

We can’t support local businesses in-person right now, but we can utilize our talents and money to support them from afar. By doing things like building a calculator to help small and medium-sized businesses apply for the government-backed loans and partnering with local businesses to provide our team members access to at-home workouts, we are ensuring the economies we all depend on have our support.

Throughout this time we are also continuing to hire new employees and encouraging all of our team members to shop locally when they can.

 

How have you adapted, expanded or changed your charitable giving initiatives in light of recent events?

We are doing everything we can to help small businesses navigate this crisis. Our customers are small and medium-sized businesses, and this crisis is personal for them. So it’s personal for us, too. We are devoted to developing resources for all small business owners to use, from how to handle their gift card sales to how to apply for loans. We are here to help them overcome every single hurdle.  

We have always been ready to take on the challenge of remote working, but I’m sure for most businesses “remote giving” is a subject we just weren’t prepared to tackle. Our people team is hard at work developing more ways for us to safely handle this delicate task as stewards of East Austin.

 

Gilles Meiers
Head of Marketing, US

In what ways is your team giving back to the local community right now, and why?

By keeping employees connected, regardless of where they are working, companies that have adopted LumApps are better equipped to cope with such a crisis. LumApps is now offering an out-of-the box Enterprise Communication Portal for free until June 30 to companies that want to streamline internal communication.

 

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