Giving Back: The Secret to Growth, Engagement and Loyalty
There has never been a more important time for businesses to give back, for society’s sake and to satisfy customers and staff. Here, we explore how doing good drives trust, innovation and performance.
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At Salesforce, our five core values are Trust, Customer Success, Innovation, Equality and Sustainability. We’re unapologetically obsessed with each and every one of them.
There’s an excellent reason that doing good is a powerful part of Salesforce’s DNA, and that’s the fact that giving back is good for everybody — including the community, our customers and our people.
Consider what research tells us.
- According to the latest State of the Connected Customer report, 88% of customers expect companies to clearly state their values, and 66% have stopped buying from a company whose values didn’t align with theirs.
- From the workforce side, here at Salesforce in our recent Annual Volunteer Survey, 93% of our employees who engage in pro-bono work told us they’re happier and feel greater purpose. And 91% are more productive and feel more engaged. That’s a powerful differentiator in an employment environment where almost all sectors are suffering talent shortages. It helps retention as well as attraction and engagement. That same survey found employees who volunteer are 40% more likely to stay.
- And from the community point of view, in an economic environment that’s seeing households suffer overwhelming budget stress, not-for-profits are experiencing record demand for their products and services. The Institute of Community Directors Australia has called it the “trilogy of terror” for not-for-profits, referring to a spike in demand, a slump in volunteering and a drop in donations.
Alison Covington, CEO of Good360 which partners with organisations like Salesforce to reduce need and waste in the community, defined all of this perfectly during our conversation at World Tour Sydney. She said, “employees want to work at organisations where they know that they’re doing good, and customers want to know that organisations are doing good in the world as well.”
It’s not just large organisations that can help to make a difference. Any business can become a platform for change. So where do they start?
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How businesses can be a force for good
The “why” of giving back is clear, but the “how”, particularly in an environment of uncertainty, budget cuts and change fatigue, is a greater challenge.
At Salesforce, we’re obsessed with our values, meaning those values are above budget and uncertainty. They’re beyond the reach of change. They drive everything we do. They act as our guide.
What does this mean in a practical sense? It means your values should be the soul of your company. They dictate how you show up in the marketplace. Budget cuts or no budget cuts, values should never take a hit.
Alison from Good360 suggests four ways businesses can make doing good a part of their daily process. They’re centred around time, funds, donations, and amplification.
- Time: Donate time through employer-sponsored volunteering days.
- Funding: Donate funds to help not-for-profit organisations continue to do good.
- Expertise: Donate expertise and products: Companies can donate excess products or they can donate expertise. Salesforce donates software to Good360, and volunteer hours.
- Amplify: Not-for-profits don’t have large marketing budgets, so organisations can help spread the word through partnerships, their own marketing, and other amplification tactics.
What does doing good look like?
Good360 has, since its launch in 2015, matched over $250 million worth of goods to charities. These are often overstocks or end-of-line products that might previously have gone to landfill.
For its CRM system, Good360 relies on Salesforce to offer unmatched capabilities for sales, fundraising and marketing.
This is more than just a software donation, though. We set up a meaningful partnership between Salesforce and Good360.
Our Pledge 1% program – committing 1% of time, product and resources – commits our organisation and people to get involved and remain involved with doing good.
In fact, since its founding, Salesforce’s Pledge 1% program has provided product donations for more than 39,000 companies globally, seen US$240 million given in grants, and volunteered over 3.5 million hours of community service.
All Salesforce employees can access seven business days of volunteering time off each year. Since 2020, Angelica Veness, Senior Manager Solution Engineering, has used this time to volunteer for Good360 since 2020.
As part of her volunteering experience, Angelica worked alongside some of her Salesforce colleagues to create gift bags for those in need. One thing she appreciates about working with Good360 is how it prevents out-of-season merchandise from going into landfill.
“It feels great to organise these gifts to put smiles on the faces of people in need, whether it was Christmas time, the start of the school year or just a gift to say someone cares,” says Angelica.
“We didn’t realise how much merchandise was left over from previous seasons — it’s a great feeling to know that we’re helping the environment as well as the community. Plus the benefits for the team were getting to know each other outside of work, building connections and having fun.” Trailblazers saw this good in action at World Tour Sydney, when they had the opportunity to put together one of 2,000 family care packs that would be distributed to not-for-profits that support domestic violence victims, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, disadvantaged youth, those experiencing homelessness and more.
Making doing good a part of our DNA and aligning everything we do with our values helps us bring tangible results that aren’t just about our activities. They’re about the power of the ecosystem — all of us working together.
How other businesses do good
So many businesses in Australia are becoming agents of change by implementing corporate volunteering and giving programs.
The Pledge 1% program across Australian businesses has included $6.6 million of in-region giving, 483,000 in-region volunteer hours, and has resulted in the planting of 44 million trees.
At Salesforce we celebrate the unique programs of numerous Australian companies. These include Canva, a business that has long taken culture very seriously and, as a result, is able to pick and choose its people from a seemingly bottomless talent pool.
Canva, amongst countless other culture perks, offers its employees an extra three days off each year to volunteer for charities.
Atlassian, whose co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes sits on the board of girls’ education non-profit Room To Read, and whose co-founder and co-CEO Scott Farquhar has been integral to the Pledge 1% movement, encourages its employees to participate in volunteering in activities such as food and housing relief, mentoring students, and environmental conservation. It also offers opportunities for its employees to take part in skilled volunteering projects.
And men’s fashion house M.J. Bale has been busy focussing on sustainability and purpose with profit, by innovating and investing in zero-emission wool. The company’s goal is to be net carbon positive by the end of 2023.
These companies and others are not just inspirational in terms of doing their bit for people, communities and the environment. They are also proving that doing good and being a more profitable business that attracts, engages and retains great people, are deeply intertwined.
Doing well and doing good is a win-win-win
Programs such as corporate giving and volunteering are good for everybody.
- They provide not-for-profits, and the markets they serve, with more of what they need.
- They serve as a clear signal to customers that the organisation is living its values.
- They improve engagement and performance of people within the business, meaning the entire organisation lifts its performance.
Doing good as an organisation is directly related to doing well.
Current market conditions can work against such ideas which is why now, more than ever, it’s vital to have conversations about living the company’s values. For employees and customers, companies must continue to demonstrate those values.
To find out more about giving back in challenging times and making your business a platform for change, check out the resources below.
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