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UK tech founders pledge £18.5m for good

More than 50 tech leaders in the UK have pledged some £18.5m as part of the Founders Pledge from Founders Forum for Good.

The pledges, designed to “kick-start a global change for good”, have been made by 53 tech leaders, including Alex Depledge from Hassle.com, José Neves of Farfetch, Ben Medlock from Swiftkey and James Alexander of Zopa.

Founders that join the scheme, which has a new platform to make it easier to do, pledge at least 2% of their personal proceeds to a social cause of their choice, given after they’ve successfully made an exit. Some have offered to give up 10% of their exit payout.

Given that there have been 155 tech exits in the UK between 2010 and 2014, raising an average of £183m each, Founders Forum For Good has estimated the pledge has the potential to raise £22m a year.

Damian Kimmelman, cofounder and CEO of DueDil, was also one of the original founders responsible for the idea back in 2013.

He said: “I strongly believe that philanthropy is not just about writing a cheque to charities, just as Venture Capital or Private Equity is not about writing cheques to startups. It requires a deeper level of engagement. Although startup founders are typically not in the position to contribute financially to charities, by pledging a portion of their personal proceeds to social causes, they start considering it from an early stage.”

Although he says the UK doesn’t match up to his home country, the US, in terms of corporate philanthropy, he believes the scheme could go some way to closing the gap.

“I feel incredibly proud to be part of a sector that is already leading by example in such a huge way. With the Founders Pledge we all have an opportunity to build an army of incredibly smart philanthropists that have the common goal to solve the next generation of problems,” he added.

David Goldberg, director of the Founders Forum for Good, said: “Social responsibility is growing in importance to society today. This reality is regularly backed-up in consumer and business surveys alike and to my mind there has never been a stronger case for helping to facilitate like-minded people with a way to leverage their success for a greater good.

“Over the last 10 years, the tech and digital sector has grown an inspiring group of founders that are building game-changing businesses. Through the Founders Pledge, this new generation of entrepreneurs has a mechanism to give back apply their disruptive mindset to be a change for good.”