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Tapping into the Power of Us: A New Salesforce Hire Explores Ways to Give Back

By Noah Kravitz August 21, 2015

One of the things that made me want to work at Salesforce is its 1-1-1 model of integrated philanthropy. I’ve worked for, volunteered at, and given to various nonprofits in the past, and really like how giving to the community is baked into the culture here at Salesforce.

The ones in 1-1-1 stand for time, equity, and product: Salesforce pledged from its first day to give 1% of the company’s time, equity, and product back to the community. Employees are empowered to individually give along these lines as part of working for Salesforce.

As a new hire, I spent some on-the-job time volunteering at Family House in San Francisco. All new hires log Volunteer Time Off (VTO) hours as part of their “Becoming Salesforce” orientation. VTO is an program under which every Salesforce employee is allotted 48 paid hours each year to spend volunteering in the community instead of coming into the office. Organized VTO opportunities abound on Chatter – our internal social workflow platform – and are often organized as team building activities within departments or company-sponsored work trips to everywhere from Costa Rica to Nepal.

Logging the full 48 VTO hours in one year also nets you a $1,000 “Champion Grant” to give to the nonprofit of your choice. That’s a pretty great way to give some of that 1% of equity on an individual level. Another cool way to give equity is through’s Donation Match program. The Foundation matches individual giving to eligible nonprofits up to US$5,000 per employee per fiscal year. In my case, just after I started at Salesforce, my family gave to the school where my wife works. I logged the request and submitted a donation receipt in Volunteerforce1, and the Foundation doubled our contribution, just like that.

This is all awesome, and every business in the world should adopt the 1-1-1 model or something like it. But what about that third one in 1-1-1, Product? What if you already have a relationship with an organization that could possibly benefit from Salesforce technology? Could an employee, even a brand new one, donate some company product to a nonprofit that’s not already a Salesforce customer? Turns out that’s not only doable at Salesforce, it’s encouraged. I started investigating how Salesforce could help an organization I’m close to—BAWAR.

Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR) is a nonprofit based out of the Alameda County Family Justice Center in Oakland. BAWAR is very small (less than 10 people on staff), runs on a shoestring budget, and has been working on behalf of victims of sexual assault and human trafficking for 44 years thanks in large part to the tireless work of its single-digit staff and large volunteer base. A friend had introduced me to BAWAR’s executive director last fall, thinking I could help them with technology and PR/marketing needs.

The friend was right: For one, BAWAR needs a new system for managing volunteers and fundraising. Turns out Salesforce offers a product that does just that. The Nonprofit Starter Pack was specifically designed to help nonprofits manage daily operations, including interactions with employees, volunteers, and supporters, fundraising activities, and other programs.’s “Power of Us” program offers nonprofits 10 donated licenses along with deep discounts on additional licenses and other Salesforce products and services. So a small organization like BAWAR could conceivably get access to Salesforce products at a very low cost. Very cool.

Noah Kravitz with Bay Area Women Against Rape

But I still had a few questions. First, how does a new Salesforce employee go about helping a nonprofit get up and running with our products. Second, and perhaps more importantly, is Salesforce even right for a small org like BAWAR with limited technology resources to draw upon?

The first question is easily answered by checking out the Pro Bono Volunteers group on Chatter. There employees find presentations explaining what Pro Bono is, what a Pro Bono Consult is, and how to create or join a Pro Bono project. You’ll also find an active group of Salesforce employees talking about their Pro Bono projects, congratulating one another on jobs well done, and of course, recruiting volunteers.

The second question is a little trickier but still readily answered. Salesforce is enterprise technology, and not every organization needs or is ready to support enterprise-grade tech. The Power of Us license donation program provides 501c3, K-12/Higher Ed, and other qualifying organizations with up to 10 Enterprise Edition licenses free of charge, but there’s much more to using Salesforce than getting the licenses. Getting going with Salesforce almost always involves hiring a third-party consultant to install and customize the system and help train your staff to use it. The internal commitment to administering your Salesforce installation is also significant – this includes staying abreast of new features and upgrades and keeping your organization’s data accurate.

By way of helping organizations decide if they’re ready for Salesforce, has prepared the Salesforce Nonprofit Readiness Survey. This interactive, six-question checklist is an excellent first step towards understanding what really goes into adopting Salesforce and whether or not a nonprofit is ready and able to commit to the journey. What’s great about the survey is that it not only assesses readiness, but also points to additional resources available to guide decision making – like the “Getting Ready Playbook: Clarify The Why.”

Once a nonprofit deems itself ready, getting going with a trial is fast and free. All customers have access to the Power Of Us Hub, a one-stop community for resources, training, and connecting with other users and MVPs. The Power Of Us program offers up to 10 licenses to qualifying organizations, and converting a trial to a live, licensed install is a simple process. After an org is up and running, nonprofits can seek additional support with specific customizations, projects, and troubleshooting through the Pro Bono Program.

I’m still at the readiness survey stage with BAWAR. It is worthwhile to ensure they take the right planning steps to be ready for Salesforce – not all organizations are. But for those that can benefit from our products, the resources are here, and they’re incredibly easy to access. I encourage you to check out The Power Of Us program — and the rest of the awesome work is doing.

And then get involved! Whether through VTO, Pro Bono volunteering, or creating a new Pro Bono Consult for an organization you’re close to, all of us at Salesforce have amazing opportunities to give to the community – and the resources to truly make a difference.