I’ve strongly encouraged my portfolio companies to incorporate “philanthropic activities” into their businesses early in their life. I don’t advocate any particular focus – I simply encourage founders and leadership teams to think about what they can do to make a difference.
Historically, most large public companies have some amount of philanthropic focus, but this is often missing early in the life a company. I’m proud of a number of my portfolio companies that have incorporate philanthropic programs into their businesses early, including Rally Software’s 1% Fund, StillSecure’s 1% of Revenues to Lance Armstrong Foundation, and NewsGator’s 3% of Revenues to Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts.
Last week Return Path announced that they have developed a broad philanthropic partnership with the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis. The relationship originated when a former Return Path employee was diagnosed with MS. I knew that Art Mellor – a long time colleague from Boston who is a successful entrepreneur – also had MS and had started the Accelerated Cure Project with a goal of curing MS by determining its causes. I connected the various folks up, including Matt Blumberg, the CEO of Return Path.
I watched from the sidelines as the relationship between the two organizations developed. This is one of my greatest pleasures in business – making the initial connection and watching capable, motivated, and competent people figure out how to work together. In this case, it has worked splendidly for all parties as Return Path is demonstrating that it can do good by doing well.
Some day MS will be cured – there’s no doubt in my mind that the work Art and his crew are doing will contribute significantly to this. The folks at Return Path should be proud today about their contribution to this cause.