Earlier this year, Appfire established Appfire Town — the Global Town with Heart and Soul. Appfire Town is Appfire’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program, though its reach extends far beyond the walls of Appfire. Appfire Town is a space where everyone in the Atlassian ecosystem and beyond — including friends and family — is invited to become a “neighbor” and to come together to generate a strong social impact in our local and global communities while sharing opportunities, news, and updates tied to volunteerism and giving.
“Our goal is to generate opportunities for members of our very broad ecosystem to take part in social impact experiences and create memorable moments,” says Fabian Lopez, Appfire’s Global Head of CSR and a longtime Atlassian community leader. “We want to ignite a social impact movement by ‘walking the talk’ and leading by example here at Appfire. We’ve laid the foundation, now it’s time for everyone to help us build this ‘town.’”
Why a “town”?
Like any town, we harness the power of our neighbors to launch initiatives that address our community’s varying needs. As Fabian explains it, in a small town or community, people look out for each other, and they always come together when there is a need. This is not about what one corporate entity can do alone, but what we can do together to be drivers of change. “It’s also about a sense of belonging, that you’re part of something bigger than yourself,” he says.
“We want to ignite a social impact movement by ‘walking the talk’ and leading by example. We’ve laid the foundation, now it’s time for everyone to help us build this ‘town.’”— Fabian Lopez, Global Head of CSR, Appfire
Appfire’s role is simply to help support those who want to put time and effort towards a certain cause, providing the tools — including financial support, supplies, and resources — and encouragement needed to pursue an initiative. “If a cause is big in your heart, it’s big to us too,” adds Fabian.
Through the program, any member of the Atlassian ecosystem and beyond, including family and friends, can propose a cause they would like to support, though there is also a roster of more than two million organizations one can choose from (more on that below). To date, efforts have ranged from supporting families in Ukraine and planting trees in Argentina to supporting US veterans and organizing a global blood drive, and so much more.
“We are not triggering initiatives from Appfire; rather, we are supporting individuals who want to propose ideas and see them through to the end,” explains Fabian. “No one should be alone in wanting to pursue an initiative, just like no one is alone when they are part of a community.”
Breaking ground with town management
Like any town, Appfire Town has governance and structure. In September the town will initiate its use of a formal platform — Benevity, which hosts a database of more than two million organizations worldwide — to manage volunteer opportunities and donations. It’s also where Appfire Town will manage its currency (known as ATc) and incentive program, in which neighbors can earn ATc towards their cause while volunteering.
“Think of it as the town seeding or funding your bank account so you can donate to different nonprofit organizations and have access to needed resources,” explains Fabian. “There will be incentives when you propose a new initiative, and for taking on efforts in your community, whether you’re presenting an idea at an Atlassian Community event or celebrating a work milestone. We want to acknowledge you and your efforts.”
“Appfire Town partners with volunteers to support the endeavors most dear to our hearts. Because we care, Appfire Town cares.”— Steve Kling, Head of Product Engineering, Appfire
Once an idea is proposed, “town management” will spring into action, assisting with a budget if needed, coordinating additional volunteers, and facilitating other necessities such as legal waivers if applicable. Volunteers will also receive a welcome certificate — an official acknowledgement of “citizenship” — and have opportunities to receive Outstanding Citizen Awards for proposing initiatives or taking an idea to the next level.
Appfire Town is also busy identifying regional ambassadors (the town’s principals, if you will). These representatives will help empower members of the ecosystem to get involved and help identify and generate opportunities to give back and make an impact. Fabian is making his rounds as well, conducting training for leaders and ambassadors and helping to organize and kick off service projects across the globe.
If it’s big in your heart, it’s big to us
In Appfire Town, there is no cause too small. To date, our neighbors around the world have participated in a wide range of initiatives, all of which were initiated by individuals. Among them:
- Supporting displaced families and wounded soldiers in Ukraine, driving more than 15,000 km with a rented van for a month to deliver supplies, transport families, and help organizations with donations worldwide. Through neighbors of Appfire Town, children from a California middle school sent notes of hope that were placed inside donated backpacks filled with toys and candy. Volunteers also purchased bed sheets, tents, and inflatable toy castles for families in refugee centers.
- Initiating a 2K-to-$20K Ukraine Initiative, with the goal of extending the boundaries of our social impact initiatives to involve the Atlassian ecosystem. This campaign was launched to generate awareness and motivate Community Leaders in support of Ukraine. The initial idea was to donate $10 for each attendee at Atlassian Community events (up to 2,000 attendees) held in March and April. Due to the escalation of the conflict, Appfire triggered the full donation without hesitation.
- Helping the Jean Maggi Foundation in an ongoing effort to try to bring 100 adapted bicycles to Ukraine for wounded soldiers and civilians. Through its connection with the foundation, Appfire Town will also support Jean as he prepares to become the first person with disabilities to travel to space.
- Organizing a global blood drive campaign to bring awareness to the need for donations during a time of year when they typically drop.
- Supporting Servicedogs.org, which aims to build better lives for Texans overcoming challenges through partnerships with custom trained assistance dogs provided free of charge, and sponsoring this year’s Mighty Texas Dog Walk.
- Supporting Warfighter Made, an organization that supports wounded and disabled veterans, by sponsoring and attending their open house and Adrenaline Therapy sessions.
- Participating in the Great Cycle Challenge USA to support the fight against childhood cancer.
- Planting 120 native plants in Patagonia on behalf of Atlassian Community Leaders (a follow-up event is being planned for December 2022).
- Supporting Autism therapy initiatives through PopEarth.
- Participating in Atlassian Days and Atlassian Community events across the globe.
“As one of the many Appfire team members who gives back to our communities through volunteerism, having a company that shares and encourages those values through the Appfire Town program is important,” says Appfire Head of Product Engineering Steve Kling, who is based in Texas. “Whether it’s personal efforts to reunite Afghan families, helping wounded veterans through Warfighter Made, or providing service dogs free-of-charge to those with special needs, Appfire Town partners with volunteers to support the endeavors most dear to our hearts. Because we care, Appfire Town cares.”
Indeed, everyone is encouraged to think outside the box. It’s not about a corporation telling employees to volunteer for a specific cause, it’s about people choosing what is important to them and getting support to pursue it.
Adventure awaits in Appfire Town
For Appfire Administrative Director Yuliana Georgieva, who is based in Sofia, Bulgaria, asking for support led to a very memorable opportunity.
“The feeling of knowing that my friends at Appfire Town had my back on this adventure made me braver and more determined to finish it. Their support gave me more strength, hope, and positivity.”— Yuliana Georgieva, Administrative Director, Appfire
“A year ago I had a dream to go around the island of Corfu with my kayak,” explains Yuliana. “I had thought of it many times but always hesitated to settle on when it would be the right time to do it. After just one encouraging conversation with Fabian Lopez, during which he suggested I choose a cause to align with my trip, I was ready to go. The feeling of knowing that my friends at Appfire Town had my back on this adventure made me braver and more determined to finish it. Their support gave me more strength, hope, and positivity.”
With support and encouragement from her Appfire Town neighbors (ranging from moral support to providing the tools she needed to turn her idea into reality), Yuliana embarked on a 180 KM kayaking trip to raise funds for the Kids with Developmental Problems Foundation (more information here as well). This simple idea to bring attention to a cause created a ripple effect with her colleagues and community. Many lives were touched as a result of her initiative, from the families who rely on the foundation to her team members who were inspired by her actions.
For those who want to support a cause but aren’t sure where to start, Appfire Town is here to help. We’re currently planning a Week of Giving in Guatemala for this November, where volunteers will stay at the Posada of Santiago and volunteer with various local organizations, including rural schools and hospitals. If you’re interested in this initiative, contact Fabian Lopez.
We want to hear from you, our neighbors
Remember, if a cause is important to you, it’s a call to action for Appfire Town. If you have an idea, submit it here and we will support you. If you don’t have a specific idea in mind, contact Appfire Town and we’ll connect you with organizations in need of support. And don’t forget to encourage your fellow neighbors — friends, family, colleagues — to get involved as well. We can’t wait to see you around Appfire Town!
Watch this interview with Fabian Lopez to learn how Appfire is lighting the way in giving back with Appfire Town: