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Salesforce refocuses philanthropic efforts to face up to Covid-19 challenge

Each Salesforce employee gets up to seven paid days of ‘volunteer time off’ to engage in volunteer activities every year

Salesforce is a purpose-driven company, and the Covid-19 crisis hasn't dented their community engagement efforts, says Dr David Dempsey, country leader and general manager of Salesforce Ireland.

The pandemic has changed just about everything, but what hasn’t changed is Salesforce’s core values. “We have a responsibility to give back to others, which we’re doing at the local, national and global levels,” says Dempsey.

The company pioneered the ‘1-1-1’ model, giving 1 per cent of their product, 1 per cent of their equity and 1 per cent of employee time to philanthropic causes and the non-profit sector.

For example, each Salesforce employee is provided with a maximum of seven paid days (56 hours) of ‘volunteer time off’ to engage in volunteer activities every year. They have the flexibility to decide when, where and which causes they volunteer for. Last year alone, Irish Salesforce employees volunteered more than 44,000 hours and already this year, that number is at 13,500 hours.


"In recent years, we have given over €2 million in grants to support 'future-ready' organisations in Ireland including CoderDojo, Citywise and Educate Together. These investments reflect our longstanding commitment and our vision for the future, which is a more inclusive economy in which all young people – particularly those from underrepresented and underserved communities – have the skills, experiences, and opportunities they need to reach their full potential," Dempsey says.

The Covid-19 crisis has seen much of this turned on its head. “In mid-March students transitioned to online classrooms in a matter of days, soon-to-be college graduates saw the economy change in the blink of an eye, and jobseekers who already faced barriers to employment encountered a whole new set of hurdles,” Dempsey says.

This led Salesforce to refocus its philanthropic efforts, and earlier this month Dempsey announced a new round of grants totalling $750,000 in Ireland to support some vulnerable students. "Recipients included Camara Ireland, Trinity Access 21 and FIT. These three amazing initiatives will help 98 schools, 220 teachers and most importantly almost 4,500 students," he explains.

Salesforce employees have also stepped up to the plate, despite being largely confined to their home offices, Dempsey adds. “We’ve been very fortunate to have the technology in place to support our employees through this transition. However, it has meant we have needed to shift how we conduct our volunteering programme,” he says. “We have massively increased the amount of virtual volunteering we are doing, with employees mapping out areas of the world for the missing maps initiative, pro bono volunteering and virtual mentoring.”

Salesforce employees have been “inspiring” since the crisis began, says Dempsey. “We recently ran Workforce Week with Workday, running 11 different virtual workshops for over 200 Irish job seekers. We partnered with seven different Irish charities on this including NCBI, FIT, the Open Doors Initiative and Jobcare. Over 50 Salesforce Dublin volunteers ran one-hour individual mock interviews with jobseekers during the week.”

Danielle Barron

Danielle Barron is a contributor to The Irish Times