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Doing Good Remotely: How CSR Can Continue When You’re Locked Down

Doing Good Remotely: How CSR Can Continue When You’re Locked Down

To amplify the social impact of CSR initiatives, Indian companies must leverage technology to plan and deliver their CSR projects. Learn how you can get started with these curated tips.

In the times of COVID-19, social distancing and lockdowns, employees cannot physically participate in corporate social initiatives. But the willingness to help has never been stronger.

To uncover actionable, impactful ways in which companies can continue to be a force for good, we spoke to Kiranmayi Botlaguduru and Srichandana Nagoji, who lead Salesforce’s philanthropy programmes in India.

How can companies continue their CSR efforts during this crisis?

Working with non-profits you’re already partnering with is a great way to keep giving back even during these times. These are pre-established relationships; check with them about the difficulties they face, and see how you can help. In fact, just reaching out to a non-profit and having a simple conversation about how you appreciate their efforts can do wonders.

You can also find out how the government is structuring its relief measures. Then identify non-profits partnering with the government and support their endeavours to reach out to people most affected by this crisis.

Matching the donations of your employees is another great way to contribute. It also goes a long way in rallying your employees’ support. For instance, at Salesforce, we match any donation of up to USD 5000 that our employees make to a verified non-profit organisation.

Through frequent communication, companies can inform employees on how they can safely do good. Some ideas include:

  • Check on the mental well-being of neighbours
  • Help the elderly and the differently-abled with grocery shopping, so they can avoid long queues at the supermarket
  • Pay house-help and security guards even during the lockdown; check in with them regularly over call
  • Read virtually to neighbourhood children who can’t attend school

What’s most important for organisations today is to be flexible. You don’t need a full-fledged programme to be helpful. In these times, even simple acts of kindness can create a big impact.”

How is Salesforce continuing its CSR efforts during the pandemic?

The Salesforce 1-1-1 model of philanthropy continues to be a powerful way for us to help people get through this crisis. Our efforts during this time have been directed towards all the members of our ohana, our Salesforce family. We have reached out to help our employees, partners, customers, and our community, so we can do our part in getting through this crisis.

  • Salesforce has donated 8,000 masks and several other protective gear to the Telangana Medical Services Department, so people fighting on the frontline stay safe. To further enable healthcare professionals, Salesforce has given out a free license to our Healthcare Cloud.
  • The COVID19 crisis brought to the forefront the need for tech enablement of non-profits. In association with Tech4Good, Salesforce is hosting a series of 10 tech awareness sessions to introduce non-profits to tools for fundraising, payroll management, MIS, digital marketing, analytics, web-conferencing, donor and program management. The sessions aim to help non-profits continue marching towards their missions and build resilience for any future setbacks.
  • Our colleague, Tataji Utukuri, in association with the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team, is heading a project to identify areas affected by climate/man-made disasters that do not exist on Google Maps. Volunteers, otherwise, fail to spot such locations when distributing relief material.
  • Our employees are creating audiobooks that can be used by anyone who cannot see or does not have access to books during this lockdown. Salesforce teams are usingthe LibriVox tool to create free, open-source audiobooks, chapter by chapter.
  • Since many companies worldwide are having to undergo unplanned digital transformation, we are offering free access to Quip to everyone. Our goal is to ensure all businesses can continue working collaboratively and productively even during the lockdown.We have extended this offer to our partner non-profits as well.
  • Given the social distancing norms, we have altered our employee volunteering guidelines to incorporate remote volunteering. We have put together a microsite that enables employees to find programmes around their location and volunteer virtually.
  • For our employees, we have been regularly organising company-wide mental well-being sessions, B-Well Together, to keep morale high. As part of these sessions, we invited speakers like Ariana Huffington and Deepak Chopra to share inspirational words.

Kiran is leading a programme called STEMForce along with Unherd. This 15-day initiative comprises 10 programmes for high schoolers who cannot go to school currently. The students are coached via a one-on-one mentor model on various STEM career options.”

How do employees feel about volunteering in these times of uncertainty and anxiety?

Just like the rest of the world, the pandemic initially left us feeling a little uncertain about what was going to happen. We took time to adjust and get comfortable with the new normal of work from home. But a month into it, we had employees reaching out to us expressing willingness to volunteer and help. We are elated to see the generosity and enterprise that our employees are exhibiting during this crisis. If we had to talk numbers, we would say that the total volunteering time clocked by our employees in this quarter is far more than what it was in the same quarter last year.

What we have seen is that in times of crisis, every little bit helps. Innovation and initiative are the need of the hour. Companies who find a way to give back will surely be remembered for their efforts when all this is over. If there was ever a time to use your business as a platform for change, it is now.

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