“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Giving back is simple. At a minimum, all you have to do is donate a few bucks to a nonprofit and you’re golden. You can literally do this in under a minute. But at AppDynamics, we rarely choose the easy route and settle on doing just the bare minimum. We’re innately hardwired to tackle the most complex problems, then go above and beyond in solving them. It’s in our DNA. It’s this makeup that fostered our AppD Cares program – because AppDynamos decided they can do more and believed that their company can as well. So let’s talk about AppD Cares, why it’s important to give back, and how AppD employees are empowered to do so.
AppD Cares began as a grassroots movement started by several charity-minded employees throughout the company, who took it upon themselves to organize team volunteer outings. To support this, AppDynamics began offering employee donation matches up to $250 per year (we were still a startup back then, so $250 was pretty good!). For the next few years, the company witnessed teams finding fun and creative ways of giving back. A few examples — enjoying a day at the beach after a cleanup or a donation drive competition within their team. More importantly, AppD leaders began using volunteer outings as a method for team-building (pro tip: definitely do this) and championed the causes of their direct reports. As we continued to build and refine our programs, three key social impact areas arose from the efforts of our employees: children, education, and health. Identifying these three proved to be crucial, as it provided alignment and direction for our employees and AppD Cares. The “giving train” was rushing full steam ahead and there was no turning back, thanks to a boost from an eventful milestone in the company’s history.
That boost would come as part of Cisco’s acquisition of AppDynamics. It provided two specific benefits for full-time employees: 1) an expansion in matching gifts, and, 2) enablement to take time away from work to do good in local communities. First, our modest cap of $250 in matching gifts increased to $10,000 annually! Let that sink in for a moment. That’s 40 times more than what we could match than before. Not only that, but Cisco’s program allows for volunteer hours to be matched at $10/hour as well. That’s incredible! Then there’s Time2Give, a program that gives full-time employees 40 hours of volunteer time off (VTO) per year to get out of the office and give back to their favorite nonprofit or school. That’s one whole week off dedicated to helping people, animals, the planet, etc. With these added benefits, the foundations of giving back were firmly cemented into AppDynamics.
The next chapter in the growth of AppD Cares was the establishment of our AppD Cares chapters. Each chapter (and the incredible employee volunteers who lead them) is tasked with engaging their office mates to collectively give back. In return, AppD Cares provides each with a budget to help support their efforts. The first chapter started in our Bangalore office, with the group naming themselves “Kartavya” — a Hindi word that literally translates to, “that which ought to be done,” or simply, “duty.” Their profound example led to the establishment of chapters in San Francisco, Dallas, New York, and the United Kingdom. For employees that are based outside of these areas and are looking to get involved in their communities, that’s when we would point them towards Cisco’s Global Citizen Network, a team of employee champions who drive volunteerism and giving in cities around the world where Cisco has significant employee presence.
Bangalore Office – Kartavya
I’d be remiss if I didn’t briefly mention that as a company, we’ve also decided to undertake our biggest corporate philanthropy challenge to date: serving as Executive Sponsors to the 2018 San Francisco JDRF One Walk. The JDRF is a global nonprofit seeking to end Type-1 Diabetes, and when they presented our COO, Dan Wright, and General Counsel, Elise Leung, with the opportunity to be Co-Executive Chairpersons, it was a no-brainer for the both of them. As a company, we have committed to raising $200,000 for the JDRF and, together with other companies in the SF Bay Area, we’re aiming for a total impact of $1 million to help fund T1D research. For more info on the JDRF & Type-1 Diabetes, head to the JDRF’s information page here.
So, why should we consider giving back? Well, you’ve probably heard typical answers such as, “It’s good for the company’s image,” or, “It increases employee engagement.” While those can be true, it’s not the main purpose for AppD Cares. The reason is that we have the ability to do so and so we must. As our Kartavya chapter reminds us, it is our duty to be stewards of generosity in a world that we have a tremendous hand in shaping. We are all in a position to effect positive change in our communities, strengthened by our diverse areas of expertise that allow us to influence a multitude of social impact areas. Our promise to our employees is that AppD Cares will aim to provide them with the resources necessary to create the greatest amount of social good possible.