In 2002 Scott Smith, a Brigham Young University marketing professor, began tinkering with a technology project in his basement. He wanted an online survey research tool that was sophisticated enough for doctoral students while also user-friendly enough for undergraduate students to use. His basement project grew into Qualtrics and by any measure, it has been extremely successful. In 2018, the company sold for $8 billion.
In the early stages of building Qualtrics, Scott was diagnosed with cancer. His son, Ryan, who was living in California at the time, moved home to Provo to be with his dad while he went through treatment. The two began working on Scott’s tech project and decided that if their basement project ever became something, they wanted to give back by advancing cancer research—a cause near and dear to their hearts. Thanks to the Huntsman Cancer Institute’s research, Scott is now cancer-free.
In keeping with their promise from many years ago, Qualtrics announced the 5 for the Fight campaign and donated $1 million to the Huntsman Cancer Institute for cancer research in 2016. 5 for the Fight was founded by Ryan Smith, now Qualtrics CEO, and Mike Maughan, head of brand growth and global insights for Qualtrics. The campaign calls for everyone to donate five dollars towards the fight to eliminate cancer.
Meanwhile, around the time of the launch of 5 for the Fight, the NBA began allowing advertising on players’ jerseys. The Utah Jazz asked Qualtrics if they would like to be featured on their jerseys and sent Qualtrics a mock-up design. Smith and Maughan looked at the mock-up and realized that because their company owes its success to doing things no one else has done, they shouldn’t do what everyone else is doing. They decided to put the 5 for the Fight logo on the jersey, without any brand recognition for Qualtrics.
It took some convincing, both for the NBA to promote a newly formed charity, and for Qualtrics stakeholders to give up such a prime marketing and branding opportunity, but in the end, a patch for 5 for the Fight won out.
“We want to catalyze the cause, that’s why we’re not just donating the money we paid for the patch to cancer research,” said Maughan. “We want 5 for the Fight to be owned by everyone, not just Qualtrics.”
In addition to the patches, Qualtrics is also working with businesses to introduce employee and other giving programs to get more people involved with 5 for the Fight. So far, all of the Layton Construction trucks are adorned with the 5 for the Fight logo, and J Dawgs donates 100 percent of their proceeds from the sales of their stock every year. Their goal is to have an additional 80 companies sign on for employee giving by the end of 2019, bringing their total to 100 companies.
“So many people report feeling helpless or like there is nothing they can do when a cancer diagnosis comes in,” said Maughan. “But they can give five dollars and know 100 percent of their donation goes straight to cancer research.”
Qualtrics’ commitment to advancing cancer research through crowdfunding donations makes them a true Utah Community Builder.