SPECIAL – Great.com talks with the Founders Pledge about Charity, Covid-19, Climate Change and Casino

Don’t you want to generate the most impact with your charitable giving? Then, you should listen to today’s episode of Great.ctom talks with…

Emil Ekvardt talks with the Co-founder and CEO of Founders Pledge, David Goldberg.

Interview with David Goldberg: CEO and Co-Founder of Founders Pledge

Founders Pledge is a global community of entrepreneurs committed to doing good in the world. What makes this community so unique is that all its members have made a legally binding commitment to donate a portion of their current or future wealth earned from the selling of their company to charity.

This “pledge” allows the entrepreneur to join the Founders Pledge community where they’ll have access to a charity research team, a streamlined giving infrastructure, and a network of more than 1,400 entrepreneurs.

Since its conception in 2015, Founders Pledge’s members have pledged more than $2.4 billion and donated over $435 million to charity.

Great.com recently contributed $100,000 to support Founders Pledge as an operational donor. Our founder, Erik Bergman, also joined as a member, pledging more than $1 million.

In today’s episode, we speak to Founders Pledge’s co-founder and CEO, David Goldberg.

Our listeners will learn about:

Part 1. Founders Pledge and Why David Started the Community

Founders Pledge is a global community of entrepreneurs and investors who have committed to donate a percentage of their personal earnings after selling their business or liquidating their shares to charity. The principle behind Founders Pledge is an understanding that through data and insight, its members can give collectively, impactfully, and more rationally.   

We all use rationale to make decisions with our money, and we often want the biggest return on our investments. Yet, for some reason, we tend to forego this logic when it comes to donating to charity – thinking more emotionally than strategically.

Founders Pledge aims to solve this problem by using data and quantitative metrics about charities to optimize the giving process and equip its members with the tools and resources needed to make better, more pragmatic decisions about charitable contributions, boosting their impact.

As an organization, Founders Pledge does three (3) main things at its core.

  1. It asks entrepreneurs to commit a portion of their current or future wealth to charity
  2. It offers a community program and networking opportunities to its 1,400 members (due to COVID-19 these programs were all moved online)
  3. It provides an infrastructure for impact – both financially through funneling donations across the globe and with a research team that sources, vets, and conducts due diligence to help donors give more effectively

While Founders Pledge started in 2015, its genesis goes back to David’s childhood. David grew up in a working-class family in California and realized early on the importance of money. In 2006, he launched and sold his own business which gave him the freedom to travel and follow his passions.

While traveling, David came to develop a new perspective of the innate advantages that were bestowed upon him as a white male growing up in California. He felt compelled to give back and wanted to donate a meaningful amount of the earnings he made from the sale of his company.

It was at this time that David began looking into causes he felt passionate about to determine which charity would generate the most good with his donation. However, he quickly discovered that most organizations were not able to give him data and specifics – only stories and generalities.

David, like many entrepreneurs, is analytical and uses research to make strategic decisions. So, he wanted to take this same approach to charity.

He also believed others might share this same perspective and wanted to create a genuine community for entrepreneurs to connect and network about entrepreneurship and philanthropy – which ultimately led to Founders Pledge.

Part 2. Founders Pledge’s Approach to COVID-19

Founders Pledge has a research team that is dedicated to understanding and adapting its charitable recommendations based on the current global landscape. They aim to find organizations that can affect the most people, working in areas with tractable solutions, and causes that have been historically neglected.

As it relates to COVID-19, the neglected portion of their recommendation process is important because it includes causes within and outside pandemic relief and preparedness. Founders Pledge doesn’t simply recommend the best or most popular charities or causes, they are looking for the best funding opportunities for the next dollar donated.

When you think about coronavirus, the US government has already allocated $2 trillion to COVID-19 response and philanthropists have committed another $9.5 billion. As a result, Founders Pledge takes a flexible approach to COVID-19.

They are looking for charities that are not receiving substantial funding already and specifically, ones that have the largest leverage points (political, legal, etc.). While these causes might not be as attractive as others, they are higher-impact and can lead to more change.

David goes on to discuss the disproportionality of donations to COVID-19 causes as a whole compared to other pressing issues such as climate change. When there is a natural disaster such as COVID-19, a majority of global philanthropy funnels to that cause which displaces it from others.

He goes on to recommend that, “if you’re a donor that has been funding something high impact and meaningful, continue to fund that cause.”

Part 3. Founders Pledge’s Approach to Climate Change

Great.com’s mission is to help end the global climate crisis – so, Founders Pledge’s approach to climate change was a crucial consideration in our decisions to donate to it.

David and Emil discuss the perception that COVID-19 should theoretically help climate change – but, the reality is that despite global lockdowns, emissions have only decreased by less than 10%. So, even a global standstill could not significantly impact the largest sleeping giant: climate change.

Founders Pledge is committed to strengthening climate action by identifying high-impact charities that are making quantifiable differences on climate. They are doing this through two (2) different paths.

  1. Advocacy for energy innovation and neglected technology
  2. Advocacy for mechanisms to protect the world’s tropical rainforest

Part 4. –  Great.com’s $100,000 Donation to Founders Pledge

Most organizations would charge for the services provided by Founders Pledge, but they do not. They offer their research, giving infrastructure, and the opportunity to be part of the community to members free of charge – after they sign the pledge, of course.

Founders Pledge’s 100% model means that all the money donated to charities by members goes to the charities directly.

This means that Founders Pledge relies on operational supporters and philanthropists to keep its organization running. To help with these expenses and to continue to provide the value they offer to their members, Great.com donated $100,000 to Founders Pledge as an operational supporter.

This kind of donation is a high-leverage opportunity because for every dollar Founders Pledge spends in operational expenses it aims to generate roughly 50x more in donated funds to high-impact, vetted charities from its members.

Want to Learn More?

If you would like to learn more about Founders Pledge or become a member, you can do so by visiting their website FoundersPledge.com. You can also reach out to David directly at [email protected]

You can also read more about our donation to Founders Pledge and Erik’s pledge story.

Are you looking for business tips and inspiration? Check out our podcast Becoming Great.com

Follow our Host on Social media: