GumGum Gives Back with Quarterly Causes
Developed by the GumGum Culture Crew, ‘Quarterly Causes’ works to focus the power of the GumGum community on making an impact in one area of charity each quarter. In Q1, the cause was homelessness.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘GumGum Gives Back’ was an initiative that allowed employees to volunteer their time as a group, twice a year, in their local communities. Past events included beach clean-ups in Santa Monica and Chicago, food drives for families in Japan and reading to children during after school programs in New York.
“With everything going online, a lot of our ‘GumGum Gives Back’ initiatives, which have always been in-person, group volunteering events, unfortunately, were put to the wayside a little bit amidst the COVID chaos,” said Lauren Angelini, Senior Publisher Operations Manager. “Kicking off 2021, we wanted to get back to that idea and really ground it in some charity.”
Because of this, ‘Quarterly Causes’ was born. Developed by the GumGum Culture Crew, ‘Quarterly Causes’ works to focus the power of the GumGum community on making an impact in one area of charity each quarter. In Q1, the cause was homelessness.
In the United States, 17 out of every 10,000 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2019. In California and New York, states with GumGum offices, those numbers were even higher: 38 and 47 people homeless per 10,000, respectively.
“I think all of us were instantaneously like, ‘this is it,” said Angelini. “[Homelessness] is a huge issue right now.”
Lauren DeFranza, Design Manager, recalls the decision vividly saying, “Just right away, I was like, ‘It has to be homelessness.’ We all live in major cities; our headquarters, as well as the other offices, are based. Just looking around, it’s just kind of the first thing you notice. It’s a thing we can all relate to no matter where you’re from.”
Dominique Linton, People Operations Coordinator, jumped at the opportunity to join this extension of ‘GumGum Gives Back.’ “[Homelessness] is something that you see everyday no matter where you are,” said Linton. “And for me being new to the company, [‘Quarterly Causes’] was something I definitely wanted to jump on and try and join as quickly as I could.”
With a background in volunteer work, Paul Beeman, Associate Product Manager, used his past experience to help elevate this internal initiative. “I did a fair amount of volunteer work in grad school surrounding homelessness in LA and was happy to find a way to contribute to the cause at GumGum,” said Beeman. “I also really like the idea of having an initiative that leverages GumGum’s creative talent for a good cause that is minimally branded.”
The Q1 ‘Quarterly Causes’ initiative, which ran from March 8 through March 22, encouraged GumGummers to donate to a charity of their choice, providing a national suggestion, National Coalition for Homelessness, as well as local options including the Downtown Women’s Center in LA, The Ali Forney Center in New York and the Chicago Coalition for Homelessness in Chicago.
“We even had people reach out from France,” said Angelini. “You know, being completely remote asking if they could donate to a French charity and sending us information so we can vet it for them. I love how everyone took that neighborhood approach and kind of internalized it and picked something that was really meaningful to them.”
To encourage participation and to express gratitude for donating, employees who contributed at least $15 to an organization received a custom t-shirt designed by a member of the GumGum Creative Services team. “I hope people see [‘Quarterly Causes’] as a way to support causes that they care about and also support their coworkers’ creative work,” said Beeman. “I also hope that creative types within the company see this as a good outlet to express their own personal aesthetic that is not tied to GumGum’s marketing.”
The Q1 creative services designer was DeFranza who drew inspiration from the homeless community she saw in her day-to-day life in LA.
“The sayings that are actually used in the t-shirt, are things that were seen in real life,” said DeFranza. “[…] These are all messages from people who are experiencing homelessness, and I thought by incorporating [them] in this t-shirt it’s like we’re acknowledging them. […] I wanted to make sure that the t-shirt had a positive message and it made people feel like they’re not invisible, that we do care about making the world a better place, even though things are tough right now.”
The design (pictured) features a flowered pop-up tent set against a city skyline with the messages: ‘Home is where the people care’ and ‘Stand against poverty, not the poor.’
“Granted, it’s just a t-shirt,” laughed DeFranza. “It’s not going to change everything, but at least it could help spread a message.”
In ‘Quarterly Causes’ inaugural quarter, 50 GumGummers raised over $1,400 across 8 charity organizations around the world.
“Thank you to everyone who participated,” Angelini exclaimed. “We’re all really excited about how well the first [‘Quarterly Causes’] went and we’re really excited to see how this evolves over time.”
The Culture Crew Quarterly Causes team were interviewed by Ashlyn Snuckel, Senior Corporate Marketing Associate at GumGum.