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How Zuora inspires its employees and clients to become Kiva lenders

When Zuora, a leading monetization platform provider for recurring revenue businesses, wanted a way to level up its social impact, it looked to Kiva to dial in the details.

The California-headquartered organization already shared the vision of a more inclusive economy, with social impact as part of their business model. To amplify their investment in positive change, Zuora’s leaders recognized that becoming a Kiva Strategic Partner provided access to a suite of tools that would engage employees and customers in microlending.

The resulting partnership exceeded Zuora’s goals and encouraged them to look for even more ways to make an impact through Kiva.

With stunning participation rates, Zuora’s first campaign in 2021 made a big impact not just on employee engagement but for Kiva borrowers around the world. After extending their program to customers, Zuora will launch its second employee engagement initiative with Kiva this summer, allowing its employees to continue supporting causes that matter to them.

Zuora’s employee engagement campaign

“I immediately thought of Kiva. Lending is one of the most powerful ways to do good—both economically and socially.”

While its services are based in subscription and recurring revenue software, Zuora’s leaders understand that people are at the heart of its company.  Referring to its employees as “ZEOs”, the company works to foster a culture that values innovation, trust and accountability.  Zuora believes that its business thrives when its people and communities are also thriving. This was never more important than during the pandemic, when many people felt isolated and unable to make an impact.

“We were still in the thick of Covid and the world felt so uncertain—ZEOs were hungry to make an impact and feel part of something greater,” recalls Rachael Claudio, Zuora’s Director of Social Impact.

“I immediately thought of Kiva. Lending is one of the most powerful ways to do good—both economically and socially—and ZEOs could make what they wanted out of the experience.”

Looking to invest in their employees while also making a positive change in the world, Zuora distributed $50 Kiva credits to 1,100 of its employees spread across the globe—giving each person the freedom to fund loans to borrowers of their choosing. 

Employees had the opportunity to choose one or two entrepreneurs to invest in from more than 75 countries around the world and a variety of sectors (everything from women to agriculture to refugees to eco-friendly loans).

The goal was to get more than 1,000 Zuora employees to take part in this opportunity to make a positive impact. Instead, a whopping 86 percent participated, with 25 employees also adding $2,400 of their own funds to lend even more.

The end result brought in $60,500 USD for Kiva borrowers—and brought tremendous satisfaction to the initiative’s lenders.

“I'm super passionate about women business owners,” says Natina Gurley, Zuora’s Technology Communication & DEI Project Manager. “Growing up in a Black, Pacific Islander (Samoa/Tonga), (and Mexican/Mexican American) community, I wanted to find a way to connect to what was important to me, and my upbringing.”

For some Zuora employees, this was just the start of their lending journey on Kiva.

“These were my first loans with Kiva but, thanks to Zuora's gift and the introduction to this awesome non-profit, it won't be my last,” said Alexis Camanga, Associate Product Manager at Zuora. “I’m excited that Zuora partnered with an organization like Kiva that’s bringing change to communities that need it most.”

The tools of engagement 

“By empowering our employees and putting them in the driver’s seat, they were given the opportunity to have a voice in our social impact efforts.”

While the campaign’s high participation surpassed all goals, it didn’t happen by itself. Zuora utilized Kiva’s Strategic Partnership toolkit to maximize engagement across its global workforce. Some of these offerings include:

  • A co-branded landing page on the Kiva website where companies can share their social impact story and unify employees 
  • Kiva credits that can be redeemed through the unique page to allow each employee to lend to the borrowers of their choice
  • The creation of unique lending teams that bring opportunities for employees to bond and share their collective impact 

“Our aim on the Strategic Partnerships team, and frankly, all across Kiva, is to build offerings that help partners like Zuora in their outreach, whether to employees, customers, family members, or others we are in community with,” says Sarah Marchal Murray, Chief Strategic Partnerships Officer for Kiva.

“We strive to design easy and impactful programs that allow partners to focus their energy on learning about the social impact each loan can make and the lives they are impacting. From our onboarding, toolkit, integration, redemption and impact reporting, we worked with the Zuora team to provide essential best practices to create an engaging experience for their employees and customers.”

Zuora ensured that the campaign was well-communicated within the company by sending out launch and reminder emails to employees and encouraging them to share the initiative on their social media.

The company also increased incentives for key ZEO’s to become “lending leaders” and promote the campaign in their local offices by offering an additional $25 Kiva credit and a co-branded t-shirt (everyone loves swag!).

“I think the passion of our ZEOs and leaders were truly our secret sauce, but a little friendly competition never hurt anyone!” says Rachael of the campaign’s high participation.

Next came the customers

Buoyed by the success of the employee engagement campaign, Zuora decided to extend its partnership with Kiva to its customers. In November 2021, it launched a campaign on Giving Tuesday to use the momentum of this global call to action.

Customers received a $250 Kiva credit and the team used a broad swath of communication tactics, building off the success of the employee engagement campaign, such as:

  • Pre-launch emails
  • A note from Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo
  • Final reminder emails
  • A strong call to action

The company offered its customers the Kiva credit in lieu of branded merch it customarily sends out at the end of the year, and the feedback Zuora received was “overwhelmingly positive,” says Rachael.

“We got so many emails from customers thanking us, sharing their lending stories, and telling us this was so much better than any swag they could have received.”

Keeping the campaign—and the lending cycle—going 

Zuora’s vision of a World Subscribed is a place where subscriptions and recurring revenue models provide broader access to goods and services, increase inclusion and equity, and prioritize sustainability. Coupled with Kiva’s capability to unlock capital in the world’s most financially excluded communities, the company’s employees and clients were able to put mission into action in a way that reverberated through the entire organization.

“By empowering our employees and putting them in the driver’s seat, they were given the opportunity to have a voice in our social impact efforts,” writes Zuora Senior Manager Carrie Young on the company’s website.
“It was amazing to watch their passions come to life and see the impact they made on people’s lives across the globe.”

It's a recipe for success that Zuora hopes to repeat this year with its second annual Kiva campaign, which launched on November 15.

Since the launch, the company’s Kiva-Stories messaging channel has been filling up with comments from excited employees sharing how they’re using their Kiva credits this time around.

“Thankful for a company that values giving back,” says Caitlyn Case, Strategic Solution Consultant at Zuora. 

“These Kiva credits make me extremely grateful every year… It’s one of my favorite benefits from Zuora,” says Akanksha Kaul, Senior Technical Architect at Zuora.  

The team at Kiva is equally excited and ready for another round of partnering with enthusiastic ZEOs.

“Our collaboration with Zuora is a wonderful example of a versatile and strategic one—connecting employees around a shared purpose, as well as enhancing Zuora’s commitment to their clients and customers,” shares Sarah Marchal Murray. 

“This versatility is a signature design of our managed lending partnerships at Kiva, aligning to create impact and easy pathways for us to have a hand in doing good and creating financial opportunity to help others thrive. It’s inspiring.”

About the author

Jessica Leigh Lebos

Jessica Leigh Lebos is Kiva's Senior Storyteller and an award-winning writer based in Savannah, Georgia, USA. Covering social justice, cultural equity, sustainable growth, financial literacy, and always celebrating others' success, she is thrilled to help share Kiva's mission—and the stories of the people it connects.