Here at Kiite, we’ve always been vocal about our commitment to diversity, but recently we have decided to extend the depth of our reach. On Thursday, May 31st we announced the launch of the Kiite Community Fund. Our fund is held at the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF), and we chose to establish this as part of Kiite’s public commitment to help make our community a better place to live, work, and play.
Startups are often driven by a desire to do more good.
This can be seen in recent ventures focussing on building something new in order to make the world a better place. Although it should be natural to consider partnering with charities, new companies often feel they do not have the capital they need in order to accomplish their donation goals. Kiite wants to change this misconception. We feel that we have a responsibility not only to scale our company, but to help our community as much as possible along the way.
When Kiite began, our founders promised to do exactly that. After a year of design and consideration, we’re sharing this commitment with the public in hopes that this program inspires others to follow suit. Although Kiite is still young, we have committed through ongoing financial contributions that will be made by both the company and Kiite employees alongside an initial corporate gift. Under the management of KWCF, our company donations will be invested into a permanent endowment, which continuously donates 4% of the value of the fund annually to Canadian charities in need.
Our employees here at Kiite were given the opportunity to opt-in or out at any point, in order to stress the importance of flexibility so they may easily contribute when they’re able and stop when they need or want to. Currently, over 80% of Kiite employees are participating in this ongoing fund. The program is both optional and confidential, a truly inclusive space involves every single individual holding the power to make a choice that reflects their own best interest.
“The partnership is an opportunity to help our community in a way that we haven’t before,” says Eric de la Chevrotiere, the team lead for the KWCF partnership, “There is a clear desire to foster an attitude of not only building great software, but being a positive community player as well. In the past we have done things like help sort food at The Food Bank, donate to the Kitchener-Grand River Rotary Club and Ontario SPCA, cleaned up the trash on Earth day, and participated in a sock drive for the homeless. With the partnership, however, we have shifted our focus to maximizing the greater good of our community. There is a culture of support and generosity within our company, from both the management and the employees. It is evident our team cares deeply about our company and the greater community.”
Why is this important?
Without allocating part of our funds to give back to the community, we lose some of the accountability and transparency of the company we are building. Kiite’s commitment to diversity and inclusion needs to extend past our company walls. By setting the standard for other tech startups to get involved, even when they feel that it is too soon or they are unable, we illustrate that there is always something that can be done for the community.
In addition, we are also receiving ongoing education from our partnership with the KW Community Foundation. Listening to this guidance will help educate our employees on how to become better community members, better donors, and will provide key insights about the needs of our community specifically to our granting committee. It is not only monetary support we have to offer, we also seek to learn about how we can best support our community in a well-rounded way.
Why partner with a community foundation?
Canada’s 191 community foundations are part of a national network to help build strong and resilient communities. As of 2016, more than 90% of Canadian communities have access to a community foundation. This makes community foundations an extremely important part of the charitable sector, because it allows the funds to have a wider reach. Not to mention, these funds can easily consist of $266 million+ dollars per year being distributed. With grants of these size being disbursed through Canada, a community foundation is a clear choice to allocate our assets.
Even in our local Waterloo tech community, examples are not few and far in between, like Netsuite’s Slower Cooking for Faster Meals and Vidyard’s launch of Plugin. Our CEO, Joseph Fung, spoke about these examples and more in his recent blog post. Fortunately, because of the lead taken by these companies and more, awareness is spreading and other tech companies are making moves to contribute to folks in need around them.
Through the ongoing education from the KWCF, this partnership will help support Kiite employees and future leaders on their journey to become better community members. It will also provide a permanent endowment so that we can do more good - forever. As the fund continues, so will the opportunities for our company to learn more about how we can effectively assist our community as a whole. It is our duty to contribute to our community and our duty to do more good, so this program will act as a cornerstone to Kiite’s ongoing philanthropic and community engagement activities. We have been inspired by many before us and we hope to do the same for many tech companies to come.
To read the original press release announcing our partnership, click here.