GoDaddy's Bob & Renee Parsons Continue To Leave Their Mark

Thu, 2nd January 2020, 12:39

At the start of this new year, this new decade, it would be so easy to write as others may have done about the top ten web hosting companies of 2020. Or the best website builders of the decade, or the best whatever of the century! But a new year brings new hopes that this year we can do better than we did last year. So our first post of 2020 salutes one couple who left a irrefutable mark on the web hosting industry. But their greatest legacy may be the work they've accomplished since leaving the industry!

A decade ago on January 12, 2010, Haiti was struck by a massive earthquake. The disaster claimed 316,000 lives, left 1.5 million homeless and another 1.5 million injured. The global community came together in support and compassion. The heart warming outpouring of donations from around the globe soon eclipsed the damage inflicted on the country. While much has been written and documented about the shameful fiasco that ensued around the distribution of those funds, it does not diminish the genuine love and compassion demonstrated by the masses in response to the tragedy.

Back in 2010, Bob Parson was still heading the domain and webhosting empire GoDaddy that he founded in 1997, and would eventually make him a billionaire. When Haiti’s deadly earthquake hit, Parsons and his wife Renee knew they wanted to help.

The couple had no connection to the devastated country, had never visited it and did not have the slightest idea which charity they could support. Then the Parsons came across Hope for Haiti, a small organization running an education and healthcare program in the southern area of the country. It was located in the city of Les Cayes, outside the earthquake zone, but it's doctors, nurses and teachers were all Haitian, and more importantly, Renee Parsons said,

“most of the money it collected went into helping the communities it serves. We felt that of all the organizations we looked at and the research we had done, Hope for Haiti had the most significant impact; that the dollars could be leveraged for the people that they serve directly as opposed to administrative costs, advertising. They are boots on the ground, they’re in the communities that they serve and very much invested in them”

So Renee, who was working as the community outreach person for GoDaddy, wrote her first grant. It was for $500,000.

Now almost 10 years later, the Parsons are multiplying that gift through their own charity, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, and are giving Hope for Haiti $3 million over the next five years to help support its mobile clinics and other healthcare initiatives. Renee Parsons who has since visited Haiti three times since the quake to see firsthand the work the organization is doing. She describes the visits as life changing.

“It really is rewarding, it’s emotional. For us, we really were filled with hope that things could improve there, we really could make a difference and that we wanted to keep investing in the communities that we were serving. That’s why we are sitting here 10 years later and still involved with a fresh new grant”

Hope for Haiti CEO Skyler Badenoch said the grant will make a huge difference, especially in the organization’s outreach to provide medical care and medications to under served rural communities in southwest Haiti that otherwise would not have access to healthcare.

“We are beyond grateful that they trust us, they are our partner,” he said. “I can’t state how important multi-year funding is because it really allows you to take a longer-term approach than just having funding for a year.It gave us a shot in the arm and it empowered us, and reminded us there is still a lot of good work to do”.

While Hope for Haiti is not the only organization that employs an almost all Haitian staff, Badenoch said he considers it one of the organization’s greatest assets. The Parsons’ grant shows that there are organizations and individuals who still remain committed to the country years after the earthquake, he said.

Bob Parsons fully relinquished the reins of GoDaddy in 2018 to focus on his many other business interests but since founding The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation in February 2012, Bob and Renee Parsons have raised more than $180 million to benefit the local nonprofits they support. “On a number of occasions, we have stopped to ask ourselves, ‘Are we truly making a difference?’” Bob says. “We believe the answer to that question comes not from tracking how much money we’ve donated, but how many lives are actually being transformed. That’s why we choose to partner with nonprofits that are efficient, well managed and passionate about their work.” 

In December 2013, Bob & Renee Parsons joined The Giving Pledge, an initiative started by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett that requires signatories to commit at least half of their fortunes to charity.