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26 Feb. 2018 | Comments (0)

There’s an astounding number of nonprofits in the world today. We’re talking millions. In many ways, that’s a good thing: It signals not only that there is an ever-increasing number of ways to get involved in social good, but also that people are standing up and trying to make a difference. And it’s no secret that the world needs this kind of social action now more than ever.

Along with an explosion of nonprofits, there's a quiet paradigm shift happening in social impact, particularly corporate philanthropy. It used to be that companies could choose a cause, "do some good," and call it a day. But more than ever, employees are taking it upon themselves to engage in personalized ways of giving time and money, with seven out of 10 people just entering the workforce stating that “mak[ing] an impact” for social good is vital to their happiness. That’s an important figure to note, considering that by 2025, millennials are expected to make up 75 percent of the global workforce, and command an estimated annual net income of over $8 trillion.

More and more companies are finding that their philanthropic efforts are important for both attracting consumers and satisfying their employees. Your stakeholders are already out there doing good in the world, and they increasingly expect the companies they work for, buy from, and invest in to be actively supporting them in their efforts to make an impact. They're expecting companies to lead by following them as they put their passions and values into action.

At, we’ve seen this play out within our own organization and are inspired by employees that bring their passion for social impact to work. A culture of giving is one of the reasons Fortune named Salesforce as both the #1 Workplace for Giving Back as well as the #1 Best Companies to Work For, and it aligns well with our core values. We believe that the business of business is improving the state of the world, and that’s why we’ve committed ourselves, through our social enterprise model, to re-investing in the communities we live and work in by giving time, money, and product. But what we're most proud of is how our customers are innovating—they're creating new markets, developing new impact models, and transforming their culture.

Companies like Salesforce that are led by our employees’ needs around purpose and giving back can enjoy valuable perks in attracting and retaining talent. And that’s to say nothing of other strategic outcomes, such as increased employee engagement (+7.5 percent) and productivity (+13 percent), as well as strengthened brand affinity with their consumers (+60 percent).

But to unlock these rewards, employers should also recognize that their methods need to match the expectations of a new generation in the workforce, one that is less interested in archaic engagement tactics like direct mail, email solicitation, or donor websites. Instead, they expect to have it all in the palm of their hand—on mobile, in a fun, responsive, secure environment, just like the rest of the technology that permeates their lives and helps them make sense of a fast-moving world. In the same way that Lyft connects riders and drivers or Airbnb connects renters and rooms, so too should donors and volunteers be connected to the causes they are most passionate about.

We believe that solving this challenge stands to unleash the giving power of millennials and gen Xers. Currently, this group combined contributes only about 24 percent of total charitable giving. However, 60 percent say they would give through their workplace, and the clear majority would prefer to do so through the ease of their mobile devices. By comparison, baby boomers are significantly less interested in workplace giving and favor direct mail over mobile, and yet still account for more than 30 percent of overall charitable giving.

Further, employees’ shifting expectations around workplace giving raise a number of important questions for companies looking to deepen employee social engagement. How do we most effectively connect employees with causes that are trusted, transparent, and personally relevant to issues they care most about? How do we drive deeper, more meaningful interactions using artificial intelligence (AI), such as by offering recommendations to perfectly match causes and supporters that would otherwise never connect? How do we make the whole experience fun, personalized, and effective?

We must tackle these challenges while navigating an ongoing technological revolution. If the next decade of innovation is being powered by social networks, mobility, and AI, we need to build a new marketplace for philanthropy that reflects these trends. We need to build a network that connects corporations, their employees, and causes at scale.

Doing so will win the hearts and minds of our employees, and it will also allow us to move into a smarter world, a more connected world, where each person can start or join a movement with a single click. We're living in an age where every individual can be a philanthropist, given the right tools and access. The world has shifted to an era of corporate accountability, personal engagement, and collective impact. When we use the best technology available to connect people that want to change the world, when philanthropy becomes part of our daily lives, we can create exponential impact together.

  • About the Author:Nick Bailey

    Nick Bailey

    Nick Bailey has been working at the intersection of technology, nonprofits, and corporate philanthropy for more than a decade. As Vice President, Innovation and Products he is focused on ushering in a…

    Full Bio | More from Nick Bailey


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