Tech employees pitch in
1 April 2005 | 0
The Salesforce.com Foundation, which was started very shortly after the launch of Salesforce.com three years ago by its founder Marc Benioff, works with voluntary organisations including charities, schools and after-school groups involved in community media, youth and technology projects.
The basic premise of the foundation is for Salesforce.com to donate 1 per cent of its profits to the community every year, 1 per cent of equity to its programmes and 1 per cent of employee working hours to community service. The company encourages its partners and other tech firms to adopt a similar CSR (corporate social responsibility) approach. The company started its foundation activities in Ireland about a year ago, lead by ex-Amnesty International campaign director Isabel Kelly, who also looks after its activities in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands.
While many other companies have engaged in CSR efforts to work with charities or donate funds, Kelly believes the foundation’s model is the ‘most powerful because it really integrates into your business’.
‘This is not about philanthropy. It makes good business sense, generates staff loyalty and contributes to the communities within which business operates. We believe that corporate social responsibility should be an everyday part of a company’s structure and a core business value.’
So far, the organisation has worked with a number of charities, including Children Direct, an umbrella organisation for five children’s charities: the Children’s Hospital, ISPCC, Enable Ireland, Focus Ireland and Action Aid Ireland. For instance, Irish Salesforce.com employee and Web expert Mark Stanley designed a Web site for the organisation.
‘The ability to devote 1 per cent of my work time to helping worthy non-profit causes with skills they would otherwise find prohibitively expensive, provides a great balance to my normal corporate marketing role and gives me a great sense of pleasure,’ said Stanley.
In Ireland, the company has donated its CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software-as-a-service application free of charge to five children’s charities to help them track donors and boost fund raising.
Kelly says the donating of Salesforce.com’s application has proved particularly popular with cash-strapped charities because it is accessible online and requires no internal IT support.
Almost all the employees of the company in Ireland got involved in the organisation of a sports and crafts day for 120 kids from Sports4Success, an after-school education programme, in July this year. The employee time donated on that day equated to 400 volunteer ours. One per cent of employee time roughly equals six working days.
Kelly said she hoped that the model could be adopted by other technology companies. ‘Most technology companies will have skill sets and technology that many projects could not afford to tap into.’ Software firms should consider partnering with hardware firms in order to deliver not just the software, but the up-to-date hardware on which to run it.