The Dropbox Foundation reflects on our first year of partnership
At Dropbox, we help the world work better together through our products, but also through our engagement with causes close to our hearts. That’s why a year ago we launched the Dropbox Foundation, dedicated to human rights. Polly Fields, our Head of Social Impact, came to Dropbox to channel that passion into a unique philanthropic organization.
“I joined Dropbox in August 2017 with the mandate to launch the Foundation. A lot of the groundwork had already been done. At Drew and Arash’s direction, the team had done extensive peer benchmarking, established the Foundation, and talked to a lot of Dropboxers to find out what they care most about. Drew and Arash ultimately chose human rights as the Foundation’s mission. It’s important to Dropbox and Dropboxers that we support these fundamental rights.”
In its first year, the Foundation selected four organizations to partner with in locations where Dropbox has offices. GOAL, in Dublin, focuses on humanitarian crises and community restoration; Larkin Street Youth Services, in San Francisco, empowers youth experiencing homelessness; War Child UK, in London, supports children affected by conflict; and WITNESS, in New York, helps activists leverage the power of video and technology to document human rights violations to spark change.
One unique aspect of the Foundation is the unrestricted funding we provide for these partners. Another is the access to the varied expertise of Dropboxers through skill-based volunteering projects. In terms of the funding, the Foundation team takes a hands-off approach, trusting partners to use funding for whatever is necessary to further their mission. Tina Lee, Senior Social Impact Manager, believes this helps partners focus on impactful work they are best positioned to address.
“Unrestricted funding from donors is really rare, “ explains Tina. “So to have a donor do that, and be vocal about it, is unusual. We’re hearing stories from our partners and building up trust, and that’s much more important and reflective of the Foundation’s strategy than restricting our partners to specific uses of funding.”
The skills-based volunteering, on the other hand, is extremely hands-on. There are already many incredible stories of our people really making a positive impact with these organizations — and learning and growing themselves. As the Foundation reaches its first year, Jacquelyn Horton, Social Impact Manager, is hoping that increased focus on building high impact skills-based volunteering projects with the partners will get Dropboxers excited about continuing to volunteer their time.
“We’ve seen employees get really excited when they use what they’re good at for good. You don’t get to do that every day,” says Jacquelyn. “If you work here, and you want to volunteer with the Foundation, we will find an opportunity for you.”
Social impact is really a team sport, with a position for everyone. As Polly notes, “We rely on so many teams across Dropbox to make this happen. We are a small but mighty team of three, so this is a cross functional effort that touches so many parts of the company. We’re meeting all these super-passionate Dropboxers, and that speaks to our collaboration, a core tenet of our work. Without that, none of this would be possible. We just know there are so many more internal resources that are still untapped that we’d love to leverage.”
We are so proud of the work of our partners — GOAL, Larkin Street Youth Services, War Child UK, and WITNESS — and look forward to another year working together with these organizations to support human rights around the world. If you’re interested in learning more about the Dropbox Foundation, visit https://dropbox.foundation/.