28 Nov Megan Caldwell Takes the Founders and Funders Pledge, Crediting Time as Student Leader as Her Greatest Learning Experience at IU
It didn’t take “Giving Tuesday” to inspire Megan Caldwell (‘12) to commit to a philanthropic gift. Instead it was her alma mater, Indiana University, that provided the inspiration.
Earlier this year, Caldwell, vice president at Elevate Security, a startup in San Francisco that allows enterprise security teams to quantify human risk, took the IU Founders and Funders Pledge. The pledge encourages IU-affiliated innovators and investors to make a commitment to donate a portion of their future success to any cause at IU that aligns with their values.
“As a student, IU was a safe space to grow and learn about myself and the world,” said Caldwell, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs from the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and a Bachelor of Arts in Near Eastern Language and Culture from the College of Arts and Sciences. “As an alum, IU represents a global community of folks who know the joy of a beautiful fall day, the importance of a balanced education (in and outside the classroom), and have a lifelong commitment to ensure Hoosiers past and present are supported as they build their lives beyond campus.”
Caldwell joined the founding class of pledge takers at the second annual IU Founders and Funders Network Summit, which took place in Bloomington in May 2023. The initiative, unveiled by IU Ventures in collaboration with the IU Foundation and IU Alumni Association, connects like-minded, IU-affiliated founders and funders with a community of individuals who want to integrate philanthropy into their business goals and objectives. Caldwell learned about the pledge from one of her IU mentors, JT Forbes, CEO of the IU Foundation.
Caldwell took the pledge for two reasons. “First, when you get equity as early as I did, it’s a low risk way to make a commitment,” she said. “Then, when you (hopefully) exit, it’s easy to write that check. Second, the time I spent leading the IU Student Alumni Association was the greatest learning experience I had at IU. The skills I incubated as a student leader—leading through uncertainty, listening to opinionated, and at times, conflicting stakeholders, evolving for what the future organization needed and not what is currently comfortable—I’ve used in every startup leadership role I’ve held. I credit my resiliency and scrappiness, essential traits for early stage folks, to my time with the Student Alumni Association.”
The IU Founders and Funders Pledge gives entrepreneurs and investors the opportunity to provide a nonbinding philanthropic commitment of any size to IU—to be fulfilled as future success is attained. Those who make the pledge retain control of the amount, timing and area of designation of their gift. They may direct their pledge to any campus, unit or program at IU, and they do not need to decide upon designation until the time of the actual gift.
Entrepreneurs and investors will be asked to complete a form on the IU Founders and Founders Pledge webpage to indicate their interest in taking the pledge. As they approach an exit period, initial public offering or acquisition—or achieve consistent revenue growth—they can connect with IU gift planning experts who will work with their financial and tax advisors to determine the best path forward.
There are no immediate tax implications associated with making the IU Founders and Funders Pledge. Taxable events occur later at the time of pledge fulfillment with a gift to IU.
For more information about taking the pledge, visit the IU Founders and Funders Pledge page on the IU Ventures website.
About IU Ventures:
IU Ventures invests in and supports IU-affiliated early-stage companies. Its investment programs include the IU Philanthropic Venture Fund, IU Angel Network, Shoebox Fund and Innovate Indiana Fund. It further supports IU founders through the Executive in Residence Program and IU Founders and Funders Network. Student support is provided through a variety of engagements, including the new IU Venture Fellows Program. Each program takes unique approaches to accelerate and support the positive impacts that entrepreneurs affiliated with IU already achieve across the world. IU Ventures is a recognized leader in increasing opportunities for diverse and historically underserved entrepreneurs and investing in Indiana startups with a shared commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.