We help companies engage their most important stakeholders--their teams!--in simple, trusted, and transparent giving. Millennials care! They expect opportunities to make an impact at work so Percent Pledge is a unique business case in which doing the right thing is also doing the right thing!
Make giving a habit. #MakeThePledge
Holistic is proud to have partnered with Percent Pledge. We were able to interview Founder & CEO, Joel Pollick.
Tell us about your professional background.
My professional career has been in sales, marketing and consulting. I began my work career while in college, when I took a summer internship with Northwestern Mutual. They have an incredible internship program that makes you get certified as an Insurance salesman and forces you to sell. It was quite possibly the best work experience I’ve ever had, because it was extremely entrepreneurial…we had to make 100 cold calls a day and sell insurance like any other employee at the company…not easy as a college student.
After graduating college, I spent a year working for a software company in MA in sales and marketing. I started in marketing but had good sales experience from my NWM experience, so I soon added to my role and became the company’s entire inside sales team up until our eventual sale.
From there, I went into consulting and spent 3.5 years working for a boutique consulting firm in Chicago called Market Strategy Group. I was thrice promoted during my time at MSG and became the firms youngest equity partner in my last year. We consulted for large B2B clients and I learned a tremendous amount. I was empowered to lead major projects for those clients and work in 10+ industries over my 3+ years.
What interested you about this type of work? How did you get started with Percent Pledge?
Truthfully, I was always more interested in building something than I was in building this specifically. But, I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and Percent Pledge originally came from a personal need.
One evening, late in 2016, walking to the Blue Line from my consulting job in Chicago’s Loop. It was the same walk I made every day and it always took exactly 10 minutes. The perfect length to check in with family and I owed my Dad a call.
My Father, Marc, has worked in philanthropy for 20+ years and philanthropy was the topic we landed on that evening. I told him that I wanted to start giving more to charity and asked him for suggestions. He laughed at first, reminding me that, as a kid, I resisted when my parents donated 10% of our family's money each year or made me donate 10% of my Bar Mitzvah money. "Mom, Dad, why would we do that when it could be better spent on new basketball shoes or the latest Abercrombie & Fitch cargo shorts you never buy me!"
After he got done laughing at the irony of my "personal growth", I pressed him on the way he gave when I was growing up. That notion of giving some percentage of my income to charity had stuck with me, so I asked if he knew of an easy way to do so?
He said he didn’t know of anything like that and his response surprisingly excited me. I told Dad "love you, gotta go", then rushed home to jot down everything I thought could go into a platform that made it simpler for young people like me to make giving a bigger part of their lives. To make giving a habit.
I had always wanted to build something and from that conversation, Percent Pledge was born.
How does Percent Pledge use technology to provide services?
We use technology to make giving a habit for young professionals and the companies where they work. With our unique subscription giving platform, we enable young professionals to make giving a bigger part of their life, in a way that’s simple, trusted, and transparent. It takes employees just 3 minutes to #MakeThePledge and our CSR in-a-box solution helps growing companies attract, engage, and retain top talent.
How is Percent Pledge’s impact measured?
We’re lucky in that measuring impact is our core business. One way we measure our impact by the number of young professionals and companies we help make giving a habit. The other way we measure impact is by how many top-rated charities we help carry out their missions and how much recurring funding we provide them to carry out those missions.
And, because transparency is so vital to our model, we help our Pledgers (users) measure their impact. Every other week, we deliver each Pledger a personalized impact report detailing their growing impact and providing stories on how their Pledge is making a difference!
Are you in collaboration with similar organizations?
We collaborate with organizations that provide other HR/Wellness benefits to companies and their employees.
We also collaborate with our partner charities to grow their individual missions by helping their communities and corporate partners to make giving a habit through our technology.
Does Percent Pledge have competitors? If so, how do your results compare to theirs?
To be honest, there are a good number of competitors in the employee-giving field. You have your major players like United Way, Benevity, etc. But, no one really focuses on our target market, growing companies 100-500 employees. Those larger giving platforms only focus on large companies and have price points that aren’t accessible for growth stage companies that need to engage their employees in giving.
Some of these competitors make giving simple, as we do, but our transparency is what sets Percent Pledge apart. We deliver Pledgers personalized impact reports every 2 weeks showing them exactly how they’re making a difference. And that level of transparency has helped us achieve 95% retention during our first year. 50% of Pledgers engage with those Pledge Reports on a bi-weekly basis and they have been our special sauce so far.
Tell us about your favorite app.
Citymapper. It’s like Google maps but better and provides you the best ways to get places and updates as you go. I’m often on the move going to meet with new companies—but never with a car—and always running behind because I get too caught up in whatever work is in front of me. Citymapper is the easiest way to navigate around throughout my day and it’s great that they provide updates on your trip which has often times saved me from forgetting to get off the train at the right stop! I need to get places quickly without thinking about it and Citymapper makes that happen.
What is your favorite thing about Chicago?
How collaborative the city and business community is…it might be a Midwest thing, but Chicago is so inviting and sharing. I grew up in the Northeast and growing up there everyone is in a hurry and highly competitive…there’s a mentality in other cities that it’s a zero sum game, and that people can’t be successful together. But in Chicago, it’s the exact opposite…people are a lot more open to collaborating and everyone is genuinely interested in seeing other people succeed. It’s very empowering when you feel like everyone is helping you as you go along.
Who is a Chicagoan that you admire?
Neal Sales-Griffin. He’s been one of my biggest mentors since I began working on Percent Pledge…when it was just me working on it as a side project on my nights and weekends…and without Neal, Percent Pledge probably wouldn’t exist today. I admire him because he successful in so many ways and I still can’t figure out how he fits everything into one day. He’s a magician with his time…he’s a successful entrepreneur, a nonprofit executive, an adjunct professor at every major Chicago University, and currently running for mayor. And despite everything he does, he’s gracious and one of the nicest/most genuine people I’ve ever met. You don’t often see that with people who are uber-successful and quite busy. We met through a mutual connection and he didn’t know me from a stranger on the street, but he took an interest in my passion + idea and has been so open to helping me along the way.
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