Survey after survey shows that employees believe the companies they work for should play an active role in addressing important societal issues. But relatively few of these studies shine a light on how keen those employees are to roll up their own sleeves, get involved and donate their own time or money to good causes.
At Salesforce, executives believe that companies could be doing a lot more to encourage their workers to become ‘citizen philanthropists’, and by combining corporate and citizen philanthropy, effect even more positive change in the world.
That’s the thinking behind Philanthropy Cloud, a platform launched by Salesforce in 2018 in partnership with mega-charity United Way. It’s designed to empower employees to influence and contribute to corporate philanthropy, so that other companies can replicate Salesforce’s own ‘1-1-1’ model, by which it pledges to donate 1% of equity, 1% of products and 1% of employee time annually to charitable causes.
One of the earliest companies to roll out Philanthropy Cloud is food giant Kellogg Company, whose Director of Philanthropy and Social Impact Stephanie Slingerland highlights the company's formidable corporate social responsibility (CSR) track record. This has focused on the issues of food security and hidden hunger that stretches back more than 100 years to its 1906 founding.
Earlier this year, Kellogg’s chairman and CEO Steve Cahillane announced the next step in the company’s ‘Better Days’ strategy, which sees it donate both money and products to food banks and school breakfast programs and support sustainable agriculture projects worldwide, among other initiatives. In this ‘next-generation commitment’, Cahillane has pledged that Kellogg’s will create Better Days for 3 billion people worldwide by the end of 2030.
But like many organizations, Kellogg’s needed a way to engage more stakeholders - and in particular, its own employees - on achieving these goals through volunteerism and personal giving. More importantly, it wanted to create a year-round effort, one that went way beyond an existing annual campaign in the Fall. Slingerland says:
We’ve been working for 90 years with United Way, and we’d had a lot of conversations with them around achieving that year-round push, and they had this terrific partnership with Salesforce on the Philanthropy Cloud tool. So this was the perfect opportunity for us to take on that platform to engage employees in a more ‘always-on’ way.
Kellogg’s rolled out Philanthropy Cloud in April this year as one of the first Salesforce customers to do so, branding its implementation as the ‘Better Days Hub’.
Meet Philanthropy Cloud
When an employee logs into Philanthropy Cloud, they get access to a dashboard that shows their personal giving in monetary amounts and their volunteering hours. They can also see their company’s overall contributions, giving them a real sense of their contribution to wider company efforts. When they make a donation or log volunteer hours, the impact numbers change immediately, giving them a snapshot of real-time impact.
Their personal portal on Philanthropy Cloud is also a place where they can keep updated on company campaigns and stories, as well as search for campaigns, events and funds they may wish to support. It’s a far cry from the dog-eared sign-up sheets on break room bulletin boards and round-robin emails between colleagues that are far more common at other organizations. Slingerland explains:
When I log on, it recognizes that I’m Stephanie. It knows I work at Battle Creek, Michigan. It knows I care about these particular causes - so in addition to learning about our corporate cause around food security, I can say that I’m particularly interested in education, for example. Then, it will show me initiatives around that in my local community. Through our partnership with United Way, who are at work in pretty much every community in the United States and elsewhere, they are able to help support us with local opportunities and content, so it’s a much richer experience for employees.
At the same time, she adds, Kellogg Company gets a lot of good data on the back end, helping Slingerland and her team to track and measure philanthropic work underway within the workforce. Without needing to rely on a time-consuming mess of Excel spreadsheets, they know exactly who is volunteering, how many hours they contribute, to what causes, and how many volunteers show up to a particular event.
This sort of information, she says, enables them to ‘close the loop’, by analysing data and feedback and then tailoring future opportunities and campaigns in line with employee interests. The Better Days Hub is increasingly the launchpad for more skills-based volunteering for employees, too, she says.
For example, our employees are very passionate about food security and that shows up in different ways according to the individual: they may be packing boxes at food banks, or working in community kitchens. But some of them may want to do a little more, so what we’re now doing is focusing on skills-based volunteering. In one case, a colleague in our communications team was looking to get more experience in developing communications plans, and we were able to connect her with a food bank here in Battle Creek that was looking to change its name and branding.
It’s still in line with our focus on tackling hunger, but it goes a little deeper. So we’re now talking with United Way in developing more skills-based volunteering opportunities - because some people may want to just go to the food bank and pack boxes, but for others, we want to create newer, richer options for them to engage with.