In the early days, Segment offered lunch to team members five days a week. The decision felt natural as an early stage start up trying to attract top talent to come and build with us.
The lunch program was delighting our team every day when suddenly, the earth shook. On April 25th, 2015 an 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit and devastated the country of Nepal. The Segment team was listening and wanted to help. That’s when one team member, Raphael Parker, decided he was going to find a way to make it happen. With the help of our fearless office leader, Laylee Asgari, the No Lunch Donation was born. The team decided to save all of the money Segment would have spent on Friday lunches for one month and donate the proceeds to the disaster relief efforts in Nepal.
By the end of May 2015, we had saved $3,534 from eliminating our Friday lunch program. Alternatively, on Fridays, team members began eating lunch out together at the wonderful restaurants in our beautiful San Francisco neighborhood of Potrero Hill. It is safe to say that after that month, the program deeply resonated with our team. On one hand, we’re saving money to give back to causes we care about. On the other hand, we are spending more time in our community and with each other. It was an easy decision to make the No Lunch Donation a permanent program. We formed a committee to meet every month, where folks can bring an organization they are passionate about, present to the group on where the money will go, why we should donate to them and their personal connection to it. The committee then anonymously votes on that month’s donation winner. The criteria is simple: something local or having ties to a Segment team member for a great cause.
There are millions of people across the world who do not have access to basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. No Lunch Donation helps us realize how incredibly lucky and blessed we are to be living this life and is a great way to give back to society. It’s also a reflection of one of our values, Karma
Over three years later, we have collectively donated over $250,000 to 70 non-profit organizations across the globe. Every single organization we have donated to was presented to us by a Segment team member who held a personal connection to the organization or issue. As a result, we have supported causes such as STEM education, urban farming, disaster relief, homelessness, medicinal research, LGBTQ rights and many, many more. This year, the program became even more dynamic with the addition of new global Segment offices. We are currently running the no lunch donation program in our San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Dublin, London and soon to be Sydney offices every month.
In addition to making these donations, we have found ways to get further involved with the organizations we choose to double the impact. After a while we felt that simply donating money was not enough. When possible, a group from our team will volunteer with the organization, host them to present in one of our committee meetings or maybe teach them how to use our product to better their business. As these opportunities grew for our team, we rolled out our Volunteer Time Off (VTO) program. All team members at Segment are offered three days, or 24 hours, per year to volunteer. Every quarter, we partner with local organizations to give our team a chance to use “VTO” days together.
In San Francisco, we have been working with Project Homeless Connect for the past couple years through donations and volunteering. This organization was first brought to us in a committee meeting for the no lunch donation back in 2016. Following our donation, a representative from PHC came to our office to present on available volunteering opportunities as well as how you can make a difference in the lives of the homeless community on a day to day basis. Since then, multiple teams have chosen to volunteer with PHC in lieu of their typical team outings.
Last quarter, we partnered with SuitUp Inc. in both our New York City and San Francisco offices. This program brings a group of local high school students into your office for a day to compete in an epic business competition. A handful of our team was able to take a day from their regular work to mentor these students through the process of creating a product, marketing it, selling it and profiting from it. Team members loved this opportunity because it allowed them to use their everyday professional skills to teach and give back to the youth of our community.
We have even made events happen with organizations that felt almost impossible to reach. In 2016 we made a donation to Children’s Youth First, a non-profit from Nepal that is building schools for the youth of their community. Over the years, we kept in touch with the organization as they never forgot the impact Segment’s donation made. In August of 2018, the founder of their organization came through San Francisco. We hosted a Nepal Culture Night in our office to not only meet them in person, but to educate our team on Nepal’s culture and how we made an impact over the past two years in the lives of the children at those schools.
The No Lunch Donation program will always be embedded into our culture here at Segment. It helps us continuously learn from and about each other.
Are you or your team interested in starting your own donation program?
Here are a couple of steps to help you get started.
👋 Give something up. Is there something you spend money on regularly that can be given up?
💸 Determine the spend. Put aside the same amount on a regular cadence.
🤔 Create a criteria. Make concrete decisions on how you will choose organizations. Perhaps you will allow team members to nominate their own, or maybe you want to focus on organizations within a particular issue.
📝 Track it. Keep track of all your donations. At Segment, we track the exact amount, date, organization and person who submitted the org. Years later, it has allowed us to review data from the program and create cool things like the map you see above 😎
💯 Double the impact. Find out how you can partner with the organizations you support. Do they have local or online volunteering activities? Can they come to your office and give a presentation?