Who can make a Founders Pledge?
Anyone who holds equity
You can make a Founders Pledge if you hold equity in a company. This includes founders, investors, and institutional investors.
If Founders Pledge membership is free, how are you funded?
Our zero-cost model
Founders Pledge membership is completely free. We charge no commissions, dues or transaction fees for any of our services. All we require for membership is a binding pledge to donate future proceeds to charity.
Our entire operational costs are funded by a separate group of visionary founders, philanthropists and institutions who believe in our mission. These supporters provide a mix of monetary and in-kind support.
If a member wants to support Founders Pledge's operations they can choose to give a portion of their pledge directly to us (as we are a registered charity), but there is absolutely no requirement to do so.
Is the pledge legally binding?
In order to provide accountability, ensure mission alignment in our community, and avoid empty promises, the Pledge Agreement is a binding and legally framed commitment that you should take seriously.
That said, the allocation of your pledge and the non-for-profit (NFP) organisations you ultimately decide to support, is wholly in your control. In other words, you can donate to any NFP of your choosing, anywhere in the world.
By utilising our Donor Advised Fund (more info below) you can expand your optionality and flexibility by extending your grantmaking timeline and deploying your tax-advantaged charitable funds to any corner of the planet.
Do I need board or investor approval to pledge?
Your personal choice
You do not need board or investor approval in order to sign the pledge, as it is a personal commitment made on an individual basis. Pledge donations come out of the personal proceeds a member makes on their individual liquidity, and does not affect any other stakeholder in the company.
Is Founders Pledge on the cap table?
No, Founders Pledge is never on the cap table. The pledge is based on a percentage of your personal proceeds from an exit, and you remain the owner of the equity, not us.
What happens if I never exit, or my business fails?
Give if you win
If you don't exit your business or make money by liquidating your shares, your pledge is void and nothing is owed. The pledge only means that you will donate if and when you make money from a liquidity event.
Is there a minimum pledge percentage?
Our team can work with you to identify a pledge percentage which aligns with your values and impact objectives. You can read more about how others in our community have chosen a pledge percentage here. The minimum pledge percentage is 5%. The average is 7.5%, and the highest we've had is 100%.
Are there any restrictions on the charities I can support?
You can donate to any non-for-profit (NFP) of your choosing, anywhere in the world, to fulfill your Founders Pledge. You can make these donations directly or you can use our Donor Advised Fund (DAF), at your discretion.
If you decide to use the Founders Pledge DAF, it is subject to relevant local legal and regulatory restrictions on grant-making. What this means practically is that our DAF can donate to NFPs that are registered as such in their respective tax jurisdictions (e.g. 501(c)3 in the US and 'Registered Charities' in the UK) as well as NFPs that are not registered. In these instances, we are obligated to vet unregistered NFPs to ensure their purposes are solely charitable.
If you already have a charity you support, you can continue to support it through your pledge. Once you've selected your charities, you can amend your choice(s) at any point and as many times as you like before your donation is deployed.
How does your Donor Advised Fund work, and what are the benefits?
A streamlined giving process
We operate a cost-free Donor Advised Fund (DAF) for members. DAFs are one of the most common ways of giving to charity, because of the benefits and simplicity they offer.
What is a DAF?
You can think of it as a charitable bank account. It allows you to make a charitable, tax-deductible contribution at the point of liquidity. You can then make grants from the DAF to the charities of your choice over time.
Why should I donate via your DAF?
A DAF has all the benefits of a private foundation, but without the large administrative burden. By utilising our DAF you create a longer timeline for your giving, and can leverage our research team to refine your giving strategy, without sacrificing any tax benefits. It's a streamlined way of giving, enabling more impact. We are one of the very few organisations in the world to provide this service for free.
I want to start my own charity/foundation at some point, can I still pledge?
Of course! Founders Pledge gives you ultimate control over where your donation goes. If you decide to set up your own charity or foundation, you can designate it as the recipient of your pledge.
Will people think I'm about to exit if I make the pledge?
For any stage of your journey
Making the pledge is in no way an indication that you're close to - our even thinking about - exiting. Rather, it is a signal that you support the movement of giving, and want to hold your future self accountable. We have members ranging from companies with seed funding up to Series E+. Founders Pledge is designed to help you commit to donate when you exit, no matter where you are along your journey.
Are there tax implications to making the pledge?
We provide you with the mechanism to do tax-efficient, strategic philanthropy. Being a registered charity means that your transfer to the Founders Pledge Donor Advised Fund counts against your taxes as a charitable gift. We also deal with dual taxation as needed, in case you pay taxes in more than one country. You only have to worry about a single transaction and we’ll handle the rest. Signing the pledge is not a taxable event.
Can I pledge different percentages on set amounts of proceeds?
The progressive pledge
If you want to donate different percentages of different 'tiers' of your proceeds, you can sign our progressive pledge. This allows you to set different percentages for different amounts of liquidity received (for example: 10% on everything up to a certain amount, and 50% on everything above that). The minimum is still 5%. Get in touch via our joining page to learn more about this option.
Do impact investments count towards the pledge?
Impact investments made with charitable funds, the returns of which re-enter the charitable sector, count towards pledge fulfillment at the point at which funds are initially donated to a charitable giving vehicle. This type of impact investing is commonly facilitated through a donor advised fund or private foundation, and may take the form of program related investments (PRIs) or mission related investments (MRIs). Impact investments made for personal profit, and outside of the charitable sector do not count towards pledge fulfillment.
Do political or advocacy donations count towards the pledge?
We see advocacy as a potentially high-impact way to leverage dollars donated for the public good. Therefore some advocacy donations (i.e. 501(c)(4) donations in the U.S.) will count towards pledge fulfilment. Please contact us to find out if an organisation you’d like to support qualifies.
Political donations (e.g. donations to a political action committee, political party or candidate) do not count towards pledge fulfilment.
If I set up a ‘charitable’ LLC, will funds contributed count towards my pledge?
Donating through an LLC
Funds donated to charities through an LLC count towards pledge fulfillment at the time at which they are donated to charity. If you plan to use an LLC structure for your charitable giving, please speak with a member of our team about the possibility of extending your timeline for pledge fulfillment.