At the last Dreamforce, Salesforce introduced a new cloud dedicated to philanthropy, and the company began delivering on a three-part strategy this year. The Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud is a product of what used to be called the “Salesforce Foundation” but now is referred to as “Salesforce.org.”
The idea is not rocket science. The new cloud is designed to be a meeting place that facilitates interactions between nonprofits of all shapes and sizes and funding sources, including individuals, foundations and other groups that promote charitable giving.
Most importantly, it’s also a place where people interested in volunteering in one way or another can find efforts that resonate with their personal interests.
Let’s Get Together
I suspect the cloud grew out of Salesforce’s desire to have such a meeting place to enable its employees to find personally meaningful opportunities to give back to the community. The first module to go up was dedicated to making it easier to donate to groups represented in the application.
Salesforce’s main partner in the effort is United Way, one of the biggest nonprofits around. So far the effort has been highly useful at matching resources with needs, but look for things to accelerate at this year’s Dreamforce.
The Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud arrived at a good time, because the demands on nonprofits have continued to expand, and not just in the obvious ways.
Demands have outpaced resources in several dimensions, research performed for the company revealed.
For instance, demand for programs and services was up an amazing 77 percent over the past five years, the study indicated. However, the desire on the part of the public to participate in the work of nonprofits was also up, by 59 percent. Demand for transparency in fundraising and deployment of funds, donation amounts, and donation volumes all were up with similar percentage increases.
Suffice it to say that nonprofits must begin thinking differently about the way they develop and deploy resources. While many nonprofits have adopted CRM to manage their donor and constituents records, too many have tried to make do with a collection of systems intended for other purposes, and even spreadsheets.
Manual processes for collecting and managing data sap a nonprofit’s limited manpower. Further, budgeting and deploying resources typically are more manual than they should be, resulting in less effectiveness for the nonprofit.
This often handicaps nonprofits from having seamless engagement with some of their corporate sponsors, and in engaging their employees in fundraising. So, the need for a systems approach is abundantly clear, and that’s what the Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud proposes to deliver.
Building a Corporate Culture
At last year’s Dreamforce, the company introduced its strategy to deliver a platform that could match volunteers and donors with causes. The solution collects and routes donations, organizes volunteers, and helps to manage grants. The first part, donations, came out a few months ago.
The next pieces will be discussed at Dreamforce 2018 — look for more marquee company names to discuss their uses of the platform and their goals.
Given everything else that will be going on at Dreamforce, this item might get overlooked, but don’t make that mistake. The Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud is another great example of leveraging the Salesforce Platform to produce a net new application and application type for invigorating a corporate culture and motivating employees.
Certainly, there are many other apps in the AppExchange to check out at the vendor booths, but this application gives Salesforce an entirely new approach to adding customers to any business’ roster.
With this application, Salesforce has a credible claim not only to offering technology to run a business, but also to delivering tools to help build a corporate culture.
A company using this tool can evolve its culture to better engage employees and customers. It is also a way to engage a local community. More than a generation ago, it was common for people to meet in after-work activities — the bowling league might be emblematic of that time. After-work activities helped develop cohesion within the workforce, and between it and the community.
After-work activities haven’t disappeared, but they aren’t as prevalent as they once were. There are lots of reasons for that — longer commutes, the need for two or possibly more paychecks, and children’s activities are some.
However, if the research data is right, then it appears that there is an upswelling of interest in extracurricular activities, which would make the Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud’s appearance timely.