Article

The fight to end world hunger can begin with gratitude

Why Zendesk adopted food insecurity as an area of focus in 2021.

By Laura Shear, Sr. Manager, Content and Impact Marketing

Published March 2, 2021
Last updated April 16, 2021

2020 upended ways of working for companies around the world. Shifts in thinking about goals, processes, and outcomes, given a workforce working largely from home, have forced numerous changes that impact every part of an organization. At Zendesk, one of the areas that required some soul searching was around our social impact programs. In particular, the global health and economic crisis and deep social unrest in the U.S. moved us to rethink our approach to grant-giving; it was clear that supporting our local neighborhoods was not enough. We also needed to engage in broader causes.

This is why we surveyed our employees in 2020 to learn what causes mattered most to them. We reviewed their feedback, analyzed how a technology company could have the greatest impact and examined our existing relationships with nonprofit organizations around the world. This deliberate process gave rise to four broad areas of focus: Food Insecurity, Mental Health, Digital Divide, and Climate Change.

Framing our social impact work around specific causes, as opposed to highlighting the organizations we’ve donated to, has allowed us to tap into a collective passion around the issues. Zendesk employees have always supported our social impact mission and volunteered time with local neighborhood nonprofits. Yet with a new emphasis on specific, well-defined issues, we’re seeing even more employees engaging in our work today.

In particular, the global health and economic crisis and deep social unrest in the U.S. moved us to rethink our approach to grant-giving; it was clear that supporting our local neighborhoods was not enough. We also needed to engage in broader causes.

Food insecurity is not a new cause for Zendesk per se; many of the organizations we’ve supported since the Zendesk Neighbor Foundation was launched have long worked to address food insecurity as part of their efforts to alleviate poverty and promote equality.

“Beginning with our early grant-giving model of supporting local nonprofits and programs where we had offices, Zendesk has worked closely with organizations combating food insecurity in our office neighborhoods. As this issue balloons into an unprecedented worldwide challenge, we’re now working to support this cause on a global level,” says Megan Trotter, director, Social Impact.

[Related read: How community nonprofits shift focus to solve for food insecurity]

Acknowledging the global hunger crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the need for resources and attention in all four of our chosen cause areas. In the early months of 2021, however, we’re paying particular attention to the global hunger crisis. As noted in an article on world hunger written for the Brookings Institute: “Due to the impact of the coronavirus on the global food system, 2020 and 2021 will see the highest levels of hunger in over a decade. Today, nearly 2.5 billion people—almost one-third of the world’s population—have some level of hunger, due to lacking the resources to purchase the food they would like, while 800,000 people are severely food insecure, going entire days without eating at least once.”

Framing our social impact work around specific causes, as opposed to highlighting the organizations we’ve donated to, has allowed us to tap into a collective passion around the issues.

Alongside these heartbreaking statistics comes increased awareness of the problem and a desire to do more to help. Our employees care about this topic because it’s an issue in their country, within their communities, and possibly within their close network.

“In the past I associated hunger and a lack of suitable nourishment as an issue in other countries. However, the pandemic has really highlighted the dire situation of so many in our own communities, too,” says Suzanne Joyce-Phillips, senior corporate counsel at Zendesk.

Employees are also acutely aware of the privilege that their jobs afford, especially at a time when so many are out of work. Chris Carter, Senior Bid and Content Manager at Zendesk put it bluntly: “As people with enough food, it is our responsibility to help and fight for change.”

[Related read: How Zendesk’s Tech for Good partners support refugees worldwide]

Zendesk now supports large global organizations impacting acute global hunger, such as World Central Kitchen and The United Nations World Food Programme. And, we continue to support regional organizations with long histories supporting the communities where many of our employees live, such as GLIDE in San Francisco, Second Harvest Food Bank in Madison, Food From the Heart in Singapore, West London Mission in London, and Rise Against Hunger’s chapter in Manila.

This humanitarian crisis needs all of us. Donate to your local food pantry on a regular basis, help raise awareness in your community, or inspire your company to do more.

There’s a simple way to help this cause—and you can express gratitude at the same time. Meet the latest version of our Thank You Machine. Send a note to someone you appreciate, choose one of the designated accessories, and Zendesk will donate $10 to World Central Kitchen.

Say hello to our Thank You Machine

Send a note, choose one of the designated accessories, and Zendesk will donate $10 to World Central Kitchen.