The Autodesk Foundation was established in 2014 to support the design and creation of innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. Built into the Autodesk Foundation’s approach to philanthropy is the unique opportunity we have to bring Autodesk resources to bear—ranging from technology to industry expertise, in support of scaling the kinds of ideas and innovations that have the potential to transform Autodesk industries to be more sustainable, equitable, and resilient.
Who does the Autodesk Foundation support? How is it funded?
During fiscal year 2020, Autodesk committed to target 1% of annual operating profit for the long-term support of the Autodesk Foundation. In turn, the Autodesk Foundation funds a portfolio of industry-aligned nonprofits and startups through grants and investments in three impact opportunity areas: Energy & Materials, Health & Resilience, and Work & Prosperity.
We evaluate funding opportunities based on the impact potential of the solution, the viability of the organization, model and market, and the value of the Autodesk Foundation’s additionality. Experts on our investment team conduct formal due diligence, which includes application review, deep-dive conversations, and reference checks, to ensure that a potential portfolio company aligns with our rigorous criteria.
Any nonprofit or startup can review funding criteria and apply for funding through the Autodesk Foundation website.
How do your portfolio organizations use Autodesk technology?
Each portfolio organization has access to Autodesk technology through Autodesk’s software donation program, the Technology Impact Program. In addition to receiving software, portfolio organizations have access to software training that enables bringing design and engineering solutions to market quicker, more efficiently, and with greater impact
The Autodesk Foundation portfolio has been recognized for its use of Autodesk technology to create impact outcomes. For example, Build Health International received the AEC Excellence 2020 Better World Award for its Saint Rock Hospital project in rural Haiti.
Nonprofit BuildX Studio received the 2022 AEC Better World Award for Zima Homes, a sustainable, affordable housing development in Nairobi, Kenya. Australian startup Okra Solar received the 2022 D&M Better World Award for its solar mesh grids which are bringing electricity to the world’s most remote communities.
How are Autodesk employees involved with the Foundation?
Every Autodesk employee is invited to apply their expertise—ranging from engineering and design to marketing and operations—in support of impact. Around 35-40% of Autodesk employees engage in volunteering, skilled pro bono consulting, or charitable giving either through an Autodesk Foundation facilitated program or on their own initiative.
Employee expertise, applied through skilled pro bono consulting, has helped solve complex problems faced by Autodesk Foundation portfolio organizations, like rebooting marketing strategies to draw new investors to climate tech in India to developing data visualization tools for last-mile vaccine access.
How does the Autodesk Foundation measure its impact?
The Autodesk Foundation’s impact measurement and management (IMM) practice establishes accountability, informs decision-making, and provides the evidence base for impact. We work with our portfolio to establish and integrate IMM best practices, supporting and improving data collection and analysis for grantees and investees.
The Autodesk Foundation frames investments within each impact opportunity area with custom impact metrics informed by a Theory of Change and investment thesis. We then use baseline surveys, reporting, third-party auditing, and lean data to track metrics like greenhouse gas emissions, work placements, product innovations, and beneficiaries reached through portfolio organizations. Forward-looking metrics like CO2 emissions reduction potential are also included. You can find the most recent impact metrics and stories behind the numbers in the Autodesk Foundation annual impact report.