860 Hours. 102 Pounds. And a Parade.

Published September 13, 2013
Last modified September 13, 2013

When Zendesk became the first tech company to take advantage of what’s known as the Central Market/Tenderloin Payroll Tax Exclusion, something shifted in our priorities as a company and member of a neighborhood.

It was an opportunity to engage our employees in ways we might not have otherwise, and we embraced it. Now philanthropy, volunteering, and participating in our community are integral parts of who we are. And we feel good about it. We feel good about it because doing this kind of work feels good.

We've completed 860 volunteer hours so far this year, and we're averaging close to 100 volunteer hours per month.

These 860 hours include:

  • Meal shifts at Glide Memorial Church, >Episcopal Community Services, and the Gubbio Project. (At Gubbio, Zendeskers cook the meal they also serve and share with Gubbio's clients.)
  • Tutorial work at the Tenderloin Tech Lab.
  • The bike-build project. In May, we built and donated 8 bicycles to the Tenderloin After-School Program. These bikes were given to the top homework achievers for the year.
  • The creation of a mobile portal that will link San Francisco's poorest individuals to the most critical services they need. (A team of Zendesk engineers has devoted a boatload of hours for this project.) In addition, our Developer Advocate DeVaris Brown has contributed 50 hours by training students via a web app bootcamp he created.

Other community participation, sponsorships, and support:

  • San Francisco Pride Festival and Parade (see video above)
  • Sunday Streets
  • Black Girls Code Summer of Code 2013 Workshops
  • Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation's Birthday Celebration (which benefited the Tenderloin After-School Program)
  • The CHEFS Summertini event
  • Luggage Gallery's Artpad Event
  • We encourage our employees to learn more about the Tenderloin and surrounding neighborhoods by taking walking tours with Del Seymour, a resident and aficionado of the Tenderloin, and with San Francisco City Guides.
  • We hosted a Nerd Underground on June 26th, a networking event for recent grads of the TechSF IT cohort. (TechSF is a workforce initiative created by the Mayor and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. It was created to better integrate the city’s workforce training efforts with what is actually happening in the tech sector. We've been working with San Francisco City College, BAVC, and other training programs to give feedback on each program's curriculum.)
  • Hosted a Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner on Wednesday, July 10th. (And we even hired a QA Manager from that dinner!)

Our Starter Plan donations:

  • $47,000 to the free medical clinic at St. Anthony's Foundation
  • $13,500 to COSMIC (London's charity)
  • $13,600 Temple Children's Hospital (Dublin)
  • $5,000 to Dry July
  • $5,000 to Zapuni in Tokyo

At Zendesk, all new hires attend a monthly volunteer shift specific to new hires. Our CBA (Community Benefits Agreement) has been incorporated into our new hire training, and once a month new hires do a shift with veteran hires at a nearby soup kitchen. In addition, off-site events now include a volunteer service component.

Now more than ever our employees feel connected, not only to the company's core mission, but to what we as an organization can do to support the community and evolve our brand in important ways.

Oh, and 102. That's 102 pounds of toiletries donated to the Episcopal Community Services shelter!