TL; DR: Philanthropy has been a cornerstone of the corporate culture at GoDaddy since its founding in 1997. The domain registrar gives back through several initiatives, including GoCommunities, which funds workshops and resources that entrepreneurs need to launch their own small businesses. The program not only impacts local communities, but it also gives GoDaddy employee-volunteers a sense of satisfaction and inspires them toward a more passionate, productive work environment.
Since Bob Parsons founded GoDaddy in 1997, the internet domain registrar has been giving back to communities through donations of money and time. But early on, that giving wasn’t always as focused.
“When I came on board a little over six years ago, we needed to give our philanthropic program a smarter strategy and a stronger structure,” said Stacy Cline, GoDaddy Head of Corporate Social Responsibility.
While GoDaddy’s giving culture was generous, it was also disorganized, meaning worthy causes could easily be overlooked.
“It’s great that our founder instilled giving back into our culture and we were able to build on that to have a targeted strategy,” Stacy said. “My job was to tie our corporate giving to the company’s vision.”
Over the next six years, Stacy and her team launched a variety of programs that mirrored GoDaddy’s goals. One of the most successful has been GoCommunities. The team designed it to provide local entrepreneurs with the resources and tools they need to build a small business.
Stacy’s favorite story is that of Arnold Smith, who grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and described himself as “one of those kids who got into trouble in the summer” when he was a teenager. So he wanted to do something to help at a local level.
“He saw a lot of at-risk youth and a lot of violence in his community,” said Stacy. “Arnold wanted to build something that would allow kids to burn off their energy in a safe and positive environment.” He started a nonprofit and attended the GoDaddy-backed Cedar Rapids Entrepreneurship Program. The result was the Eastern Iowa NFL Flag League, a summer football league for youth from under-served households.
“As soon as he launched the program, eager kids started signing up,” said Stacy. “There was so much interest, and it was great to see how much people needed it in the community.”
GoCommunities helped Arnold gain the knowledge and the resources to launch his nonprofit. And that’s just one of the many success stories the company has helped write.
How GoCommunities Brings Opportunity and Education to Entrepreneurs
GoDaddy runs several philanthropic initiatives, including GoDaddy Gives, GoDaddy Inspires, GoDaddy Shares, GoDaddy Matches, GoDaddy Transforms, and Round Up for Charity.
“But our signature program is GoCommunities,” Stacy said.
GoCommunities was launched in 2017 when the team was researching needs that aligned with GoDaddy’s overall vision. It saw that people in under-served neighborhoods didn’t have the same resources to start businesses as those in higher income brackets. GoCommunities’ goal was to help level that playing field, so anyone, no matter their race, gender, or socioeconomic background, could successfully launch a company.”
Over the last 18 months, GoCommunities has set up programs in cities across the United States. Each has a few important similarities — they equip entrepreneurs with training, tools, and peer networks to accelerate their ventures from the start. Working with nonprofit partners, they provide skill-building workshops and coaches to give small business owners confidence and knowledge.
And it customizes the content to the location, as each market has distinct characteristics.
“We listen to the needs of each individual community and build our programs around what we hear. It’s a neighborhood-based model,” Stacy said.
Every program has a few core components. First, GoDaddy employees volunteer to teach the workshops and work with entrepreneurs one-on-one. The company also provides products and services for free.
“Often, that’s not enough, which is why we offer wraparound services. For example, we can provide childcare and transportation. If someone is working multiple jobs while trying to get their business off the ground, it’s no surprise they will need a little extra help. We’re here for that,” Stacy said.
And the GoCommunities’ workshops are informative and powerful. They typically begin with the basics of branding before moving into bringing the business online. The workshops also cover social media, search engine optimization, eCommerce, email marketing, and other areas of building a robust digital presence.
A Philanthropic Culture Creates a More Passionate Team
GoDaddy employees love getting involved in the company’s philanthropic culture. While customer care representatives field calls from business owners every day, when they volunteer at a GoCommunities workshop, they get to see just how much of an impact they make in the real world, said Stacy.
“Those on the technical and corporate side of things rarely interact with customers in their day-to-day roles. So when they take part in these programs, they realize, ‘Wow, this is why we’re building this new product. This is why we have that policy. It’s helping people like this,’” Stacy said. “Our philanthropy brings our work back to us in a meaningful way.”
And it’s not just GoCommunities that helps employees give back. GoDaddy Inspires provides workers with opportunities to volunteer in their communities on company time — whether it’s joining a walkathon or mentoring a student. Employees can also earn grants for their favorite charities. GoDaddy also has a program that matches employees’ charitable donations dollar for dollar.
And, by getting employees involved in giving back to their own communities — whether they’re in Boston or California — GoDaddy is building a more motivated, satisfied, and committed workforce.
Looking Forward to Expanding Programs to Help Build More Businesses
GoDaddy is committed to fostering more business ownership in under-served areas through its GoCommunities initiative. And because it has already seen such success in that area, the company wants to expand to other underserved populations — including those living in rural areas.
In 1977, 2 out of 10 small businesses were in rural areas. By 2017, that number had fallen to 1 in 10. Between 2010 and 2014, half of America’s new businesses were launched in just 20 counties, and 17 of those counties were in the same four states — California, Florida, New York, and Texas. These troubling stats inspired GoDaddy to expand its GoCommunities program to more rural areas in 2019.
“We’ve already built these great, robust resources. Now, we want to expand,” said Stacy. “We’re about to launch new partnerships that will take us into 25 new communities, which will allow us to scale up our work in rural areas where entrepreneurs often have little access to the services we provide.”
Those new programs will help people in rural areas just like they helped Caleetta Berry, owner of Just Like Home Soul Food in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“Caleetta was the kind of person who’s always cooking for her family. She had a passion for soul food and she loved to share what she made,” Stacy said. “She joined a GoCommunities workshop and pitched her idea to the community. In response, she was given a space at the NewBo City Market and she launched her own stand. It’s great to see someone with so much passion, and it’s even better to watch that passion blossom.”
Nurturing that talent and making those dreams a reality is what GoDaddy has always been about.