We recently sat down with Executive Director of DocuSign IMPACT, Amy Skeeters-Behrens. Below, she discusses the new Matching Gifts Program, developing a company culture around philanthropy, and her vision for the future of DocuSign IMPACT.
DocuSign IMPACT recently launched the Matching Gifts Program, which places the focus squarely on the causes most important to DocuSign employees by matching employee donations to nonprofits. Could you tell us about this program?
First, for those that aren’t familiar with it, DocuSign IMPACT is our global initiative to accelerate the digital transformation of nonprofit organizations globally. In short, our objective is to transform lives by transforming nonprofit organizations. We are a Pledge 1% member and believe it’s important to invest in the communities around us with our time, our products, and our profits. The matching gifts program is a wonderful addition to our IMPACT portfolio, that also includes DocuSign for Nonprofits (in which nonprofits are eligible for discounted or donated product) and a robust employee volunteer program (consisting of over 20 employee-led IMPACT Teams in cities around the world).
We designed the initiative to be as flexible as possible for employees to support causes that are important to them because we wanted to accelerate employee philanthropy, both in terms of putting the power to allocate the company’s philanthropic resources in the hands of employees as well as creating leadership opportunities for employees to contribute to the initiative as part of their work at DocuSign.
So, while we do have practice areas that reflect the values of the company, such as environmental sustainability, diversity & inclusion, and helping people during times of disaster, very few of the resources that we’ve allocated to the program are for company-directed activities. For example, when the board of directors allocated the resources for the DocuSign IMPACT Foundation, they were very clear that the focus was on employees and on the causes that they chose to support through the Matching Gifts Program.
The employee-focused approach also serves us during times of natural disaster, when we can bring our resources to bear where they are needed most. For example, I was chatting with a Houston-based colleague yesterday about the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey and the long road of recovery ahead. Because employees are central to our philanthropic strategy, she has helped create a fundraising campaign for employees who want to help. And because she’s on the ground there, she will be able to share a first-hand perspective on the devastation and why the help is so desperately needed.
How did DocuSign IMPACT first begin as an organization?
DocuSign IMPACT began because our Chairman and CEO at the time, Keith Krach, believed it was important to embed a sense of impact into our company culture. We had hit an incredibly exciting inflection point in the company and had begun to grow very rapidly. Sensing that he needed to act decisively, Keith took his vision to the board of directors who readily approved moving forward on creating the initiative. Like Keith, our board is an extremely experienced and savvy group who want philanthropy to be a significant part of the company’s culture and who recognized the significance of making philanthropic commitments at that point in the company’s history.
Could you tell us about the ways DocuSign IMPACT helps nonprofits?
DocuSign IMPACT is built around three pillars: our technology, our time and our profits. Our technology saves physical resources and helps businesses be more productive, and there are thousands of nonprofits that have benefitted from our DocuSign for Nonprofits offer, wherein we provide pro-bono or lo-bono DocuSign products to qualifying organizations. In terms of our time, employees have used their volunteer time off to devote tens of thousands of hours to volunteering around the world.
And most recently, as you know, we’ve launched the DocuSign IMPACT Matching Gifts program. In just over a month, the DocuSign IMPACT Foundation has donated tens of thousands of dollars to causes that are important to our employees. These causes run the gamut from environmental conservation, to diversity and inclusion, to humanitarian aid and health-related causes. And very recently I’ve been pleased to see the outpouring of support from employees for the people of Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
What are some of your favorite nonprofits that DocuSign has worked with?
Honestly, there are so many! The organizations and nonprofits that are my favorite to work with are the ones where are our employees and the company are investing across all three of the IMPACT pillars: time, technology, and profits. For example, Larkin Street Youth Services is an incredible example of all three pillars of impact being brought together to help one nonprofit further their mission of transforming the lives of homeless youth in the Bay Area. DocuSign CIO Eric Johnson is on the board of the organization, so he’s volunteering his time. The DocuSign IMPACT Foundation also matches donations to Larkin Street, and finally, through our DocuSign for Nonprofits program, they’re using our technology to streamline their operations and better serve their clients.
Nonprofits like Larkin Street Youth Services are why we do this work and bring all our resources to bear in a concentrated way. We want to help transform nonprofits, so in turn, they can transform lives.
What value do nonprofits bring to DocuSign?
It’s tremendously important to employees that the company leverages its resources and strengths to make a positive impact on the world. That’s why many people come to work at DocuSign and why they stay. Supporting nonprofits through our IMPACT initiative is an important, tangible way that we as a company demonstrate that character in action to employees and keep them engaged and excited about what we as a company do in the world.
Additionally, nonprofits help us make our product stronger through activities such as our Hack for Good, and they bring additional meaning to our business by sharing their stories about the work that they do and how DocuSign helps them do it better.
What are some of the biggest challenges the DocuSign product has helped nonprofits overcome?
It comes down to this: our technology saves nonprofits valuable time and money that they can direct towards fulfilling their missions and transforming communities. For example, I was on the board of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco for six years, and I saw firsthand the power of DocuSign to streamline the process of getting families into homes. DocuSign cut days and even weeks off the timelines for getting critical financial disclosures, property documents, loan applications, and volunteer waivers executed.
Other nonprofits like Team Rubicon are able to deploy volunteers faster and safer in the aftermath of humanitarian disasters because of their ability to get critical deployment instructions and waivers signed on-the-go. It helps them focus on the business of disaster response and providing aid to those in need vs chasing paper.
What are some of the biggest challenges of your role?
While I’m very proud that we have supported hundreds of organizations through our product donation program with Techsoup, I am cognizant of the fact that there are millions of eligible organizations around the world who have not taken advantage of the offer. It’s primarily an awareness issue, so the challenge for me and the team here is how to cut through the noise to drive as much redemption as possible.
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve taken part in?
The first one that comes to mind is our annual Global IMPACT Day, when most of the company is out volunteering together on one day. You see so much joy and pride in helping others among our employees. It really showcases the character of the company in a very concentrated and compelling way.
The second would be the “Hack for Good” events that we hold as part of the developer track at our annual Momentum customer conference. It’s fulfilling to see the creativity and innovation that our developer community brings to bear to help a nonprofit become even more productive and effective using DocuSign, and in particular our API’s. At our first event, we featured Team Rubicon and helped them create new functionality to manage medical records at a refugee camp in Greece with sporadic connectivity (a feature which subsequently was built into our core product.) And earlier this year, the developers worked on solutions to help Techbridge Girls manage their data across multiple cloud platforms, allowing them to focus more of their time on exposing more girls in underserved communities to STEM education and career paths.
And of course, it has been tremendously rewarding to launch our Matching Gifts Program! It makes me smile every time I see an employee requesting a gift and doubling their impact on a cause that’s important to them. And for Hurricane Harvey relief, we have been double-matching employee donations to support our colleagues in Houston and amplify our impact on the relief and recovery efforts.
Where do you envision DocuSign IMPACT in one, three, five years and beyond?
In short, I see it getting bigger and bigger, commensurate with the growth of the company and the growing enthusiasm from employees. From the beginning, the goal was to build DocuSign IMPACT in such a way that there were opportunities for employees who wanted to assume a leadership role to help define and grow it. And from just a few teams in the U.S. a couple of years ago, we have grown our global reach to over 20 city-specific IMPACT teams in 11 countries, comprised of employees who are tailoring DocuSign IMPACT to fit the culture and rhythms of their location and be as relevant as possible to their DocuSign peers. As we continue to expand to 30, 40 and hopefully even more different teams around the world, I feel great about the foundation that we have built that provides a flexible and powerful way for employees to leverage the resources of DocuSign for maximum impact in their communities.