Giving Tuesday: Community impact (and sweat equity) at Contentful

Learn how we think about giving in our community impact programs at Contentful, and the work of the incredible organizations we are honored to support.
November 28, 2023


Giving Tuesday is upon us, and it is truly one of my favorite days of the year. It’s an incredible day positioned in a time to mark the shift between a season of gratitude and a season of giving. 

Every year it helps to elevate the work of important organizations around the world and also to equip people to speak about what they are passionate about, and, ultimately, the gifts they are giving. And, hopefully, it is a time for givers to reflect on why they give, and an opportunity to invite us all to consider how we partner with nonprofits more than just one day a year. 

I want to share how we think about giving in our community impact programs at Contentful, but more importantly, I want to shine a light on the work of the incredible organizations we are honored to support. They only represent a fraction of organizations we partner with, but we are honored to work with them and hope we can play a role in empowering them to do more to achieve their social mission.

How we bring our giving strategy to life

As the Head of Community Impact at Contentful, I am fortunate that a large part of my job is to think about who, what, when, where, and why we give. From global conflict, rising global temperatures disrupting our lives, to political division, it is critical that we think about how we show up in our communities seeking real impact and partnership, not just a sprint of giving once a year.

Thankfully, my job came with some solid values and pillars to guide my work. This is the foundation we have built our programs on. Our long-standing core values ground our work in the same values that ground the work of the company: be humble, start with the customer and work backwards, embody a growth mindset, and strive together. These pillars inspire our community impact programs by giving us the vehicles we need to bring our giving strategy to life: volunteerism, pro bono product program, and climate action.

I want to share a bit about what our everyday giving strategy looks like, not only so that you can know how Contentful grounds its own impact and carries the spirit of giving beyond one day, but so you can learn about the social impact work we are honored to support.

Be humble 

This core value is perhaps the most critical underpinning of our entire community impact strategy. When we approach giving at Contentful from a place of humility, it requires us to check our ego at the door and respect our partners as the experts in what they do instead of telling them, “This is what we are giving you.” Rather, we show up asking, “How can we help?” I also believe it calls us to ask, “How can we do more? How can we strive for deeper impact and genuine partnership?” 

One of my favorite examples of how this came to life this year: We attended a recruiting event this year in Berlin put on by Uhlala targeted toward LGBTQ+ job seekers. We knew we wanted to have a deeper impact beyond the potential for diverse hiring. We decided to support AidsHilfe, an organization that supports individuals with HIV/Aids, an issue that can disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ populations. So for every CV we collected, we made a donation to AidsHilfe in Berlin. 

Finally, we wanted to round out the experience by using some of our 40 annual volunteer time-off hours that each employee is entitled to by volunteering at the AidsHilfe and giving some good old-fashioned sweat equity. We asked, “How else can we support you?” Their response was that they needed volunteers to help paint their center.

Fifteen Contentful employees showed up to help paint the center and deepen the overall impact we sought to achieve. Ego says, “Here is our gift; you’re welcome,” While Humility says, “We would like to give; how do we do that and more?” 

Fifteen Contentful employees showed up to help paint the center and deepen the overall impact we sought to achieve.

Start with the customer and work backwards 

Contentful has more than 250 pro bono customers who are nonprofit organizations with a social mission. In the last year alone, we gave away more than $2.5 million dollars of free product. We are incredibly proud of it. And, it’s not enough. 

To deepen the value we bring to pro bono customers, we launched an impact customer pilot program. This program aims to ensure that nonprofits are setting up Contentful correctly to meet their organizational needs, scale their offerings, and ultimately reduce the amount of time they spend learning Contentful, so they can spend more of their time and resources actually achieving their social impact. 

Our professional services team put together offerings specifically tailored to the needs of nonprofits. Our pilot program included Project N95, CaringBridge, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and Refugee Help.

Each organization brought its own unique challenges to the table, and after working together with professional services, they were able to optimize their Contentful platform usage and ultimately get their social services, earth-saving information, and life-saving products to their clients faster and more reliably. 

Embody a growth mindset 

Our growth mindset is focused on our climate strategy. Contentful has always aimed to be good stewards of the earth, and this year we procured carbon accounting software as a critical step in formalizing our climate journey.

With that software, we will be able to set the baseline of our emissions and formulate a meaningful data-based, climate action plan. We also want to act now to facilitate growth for those organizations on the frontlines of climate action to do their best work. 

That is why we chose several climate/biodiversity nonprofits, such as the Naturalis BioDiversity Center, Family Forest Carbon Program, and Leaders for Climate Action, as pro bono customers so that we can better serve up their content to their customers and partners and do this critical climate-saving work.

Strive together 

The most obvious intersection for our values and our giving comes at the intersection of our volunteer time off and our Strive Together value. It is a powerful value that lends itself to collaboration and unity internally. But this value, externally, has the ability to transform communities. 

So far this year, Contentful employees have volunteered more than 1,300 hours across the company to put more good into the world, together. We have shown up in humility to clean up parks for the City of Denver. We have encouraged growth mindsets by mentoring with The Girls Network. We’ve sorted donations for A Precious Child, boxed up food at Foodbank of the Rockies, fed the hungry at Metro Caring and Berliner Obdachlosenhilfe e.V., cooked meals for weary families at the Ronald McDonald House, cleaned facilities for Denver Girls Inc. and more. 

Heading out beyond the walls of our office together transforms communities, and also, transforms us. Contentful employee Will Simmons put it best when he said, "It's not just about what we do, it's about how we do it. Volunteering unites us outside of the business mindset — we get to work together to create an impact in the communities in which we live and serve.”

Will volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House. “It's an absolute win-win,” he said. “We get to interact and learn about our colleagues in a shared altruistic setting, all the while providing a service or meeting a need that is greater than our company."

The most obvious intersection for our values and our giving comes at the intersection of our volunteer time off and our Strive Together value.

Supporting communities all year round

At Contentful, we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all giving approach, and we certainly don’t believe in confining our giving to just one day. We recognize that every community and organization has unique needs and problems to solve, and every individual has unique gifts and talents to give. 

If you are looking for a place to give today, any one of the nonprofits mentioned in this article would benefit from a donation, your volunteer hours, or a social media shout-out. If you are a nonprofit doing awesome work, we are always accepting applications from incredible organizations looking to use Contentful to deliver their content in order to help fulfill their social mission. Email to learn more about our pro bono offering.  

As we strive to give in partnership year round, may we all use this day to elevate the work of the organizations on the front lines of social impact work, recognize the larger part we play in our communities, and harness our own power and potential to give forward to a brighter future.

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