Backupify CEO Rob May is under no illusions about competing with HubSpot’s hefty $30K referral bonus for developers. Few startups have the wallet to match it. So he and his team came up with another idea, one they think will motivate referrals at a price tag they can afford. Rather than appealing to referrers’ wallets, Backupify is appealing to their desire to do some good.

Here’s the program:

Our program: if you refer someone before July 31st that we subsequently hire…

  • We’ll donate $5,000 to the charity of your choice in your name the first day they show up for work.
  • We’ll pay you $10,000 90 days after they start.
  • Or, the good samaritan option – have all $15,000 donated directly to charity.

Not too bad–$10K is still nothing to sneeze at, and who can put a price on a clean conscience?

If this seems odd, consider that startups do this all the time in a different context: salaries. Can’t compete with a Wall Street salary when trying to lure in talent? One approach is equity, by startups frequently employ another strategy, citing mission, and implicitly offering the psychic benefits therein.

Working some place that is changing the world (ideally for the better) is worth, to many people, giving up a significant amount of money. Startups exploit that motivation all the time. What Backupify is trying to do with its recruitment is no different.

Your move, HubSpot.