To promote a culture of giving, many corporations have a policy of matching charitable donations made by employees. Encouraging philanthropy can be difficult, however, as the online platforms through which employees donate are often basic, and don’t offer information on specific causes, or their impact. Salesforce.org—the charitable arm of Salesforce, a San-Francisco based cloud computing company—has recognized the problem posed by bare bones philanthropy portals. To deepen employee investment in corporate-matched philanthropy, they’ve collaborated alongside United Way Worldwide to create Philanthropy Cloud, a social networking app centered around charity.
Around 50 years ago, United Way began linking corporate employees to charitable organizations by facilitating donations via payroll deductions. Since then, the organization has become one of the largest charity groups in existence; in 2017, it collected an annual total of $4.7 billion from 9 million donors. Its numbers may be impressive, but United Way CEO Brian Gallagher noted that total donations are decreasing every year. Gallagher believes that sparse corporate charity portals don’t spur more donations because they lack personalized experience, which is exactly what Philanthropy Cloud aims to provide.
The app works by combining a social media-style interface with online shopping elements native to platforms like Amazon. Upon login, users are greeted with a display of two pie charts—one showing how much they’ve personally given, the other displaying company-wide totals—each of which is broken down by cause type. There’s also a scrollable feed that shows current campaigns of interest, such as relief funds for natural disasters. Employees looking to post stories can do so in the “featured content” section, and in the “recommended for you,” donors will find a list of preferred causes generated from their prior giving history.
Companies that have signed on to the service believe that the platform could boost net donations, while also serving as an incentive to attract talented millenials looking to leave a positive impact on society. Bill Bradley, Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of community affairs, believes Philanthropy Cloud could enable employees to satisfy their passion for community improvement in a flexible way.
By incorporating features such as a personal donation history with the option of one-click repeat gifts, as well as a campaign-specific engagement counter, Salesforce hopes to turn its new app into an all-purpose philanthropy tool. The company plans to even incorporate features that will allow users to carry their profiles from job to job. The goal, according to Salesforce executive VP Nasi Jazayeri, is to transform giving into an expedited social experience, one which allows for “frictionless” interaction between individual charities and donors.
Salesforce plans to update the app around three times a year, in each instance adding new functions, like a volunteer hours tracker, quick sync with Turbotax and other bookkeeping programs, and a feature that would let users plan and advertise volunteer events. In addition, the company is working with nonprofit reporting firm GuideStar to extend donation options to reputable United Way non-affiliates. Philanthropy Cloud is planned for release this June, although some companies, such as Anheuser-Busch, have opted to receive a pilot version early.