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Using corporate volunteering days flexibly

Salesforce is one of a number of local businesses that are active in our community, supporting local charities and community groups. They offer a particularly generous and flexible volunteering option to their employees, which is widely embraced.

We asked Emily Aslin, Salesforce’s Senior Recruitment Coordinator, to tell us more:

How many days for volunteering do you offer employees?
People can volunteer for up to seven days a year, or 56 hours. People can volunteer for an hour at a time, or a few hours or days, depending on the person’s choice of type of volunteering. We can choose from any type of charity close to home or abroad and can attend/create team events with colleagues or attend volunteering by ourselves.

All global employees are entitled to these volunteering days. This has been the case right from when Salesforce first started in 1999. It’s part of our 1-1-1 philanthropic business model. This stands for:

1% Time – 7 days of paid volunteer time off (VTO) to use every year.

1% Equity – Donates grants to organizations globally.

1% Product – The ‘Power of Us’ program grants charitable organizations access to 10 donated licenses for the Nonprofit Success Pack, built on Salesforce. And it’s because of that foundation that we’ve been able to achieve such an incredible impact together. This is a snapshot of our giving to date:

  • We’ve given over $614 million dollars in grants.
  • Our employees have volunteered over 7.8 million hours to organizations and causes they care about.
  • 51,900 nonprofits and higher education orgainsations use our product to accomplish their missions.

Why does Salesforce believe it is important for employees to have this option? When did you introduce the flexibility around how/when days could be taken, and why?

Businesses can make a huge difference by supporting charities and the benefits are a healthier and happier workplace. Through our philanthropy, Salesforce seeks to build a more just and equitable society by bringing community and opportunity together. We’re committed to opening the doors of opportunity so that everyone has equal access to a quality education, a meaningful career, and a prosperous future. This vision isn’t ours alone. We’re building it in partnership with employees, schools, nonprofit organizations, and community leaders.

Salesforce empowers all our employees to be citizen philanthropists through volunteering and donating to causes they care about. Employees receive 7 days of paid volunteer time off (VTO) to use every year. Salesforce employees have volunteered 7.8M service hours to date.

Since 1999 many other companies have followed the Salesforce Philanthropy model in offering employees volunteering days and it has become an important part of building a community for each business, making employees happier.

What feedback have you had from employees about this flexibility? Have you seen an increase in take up since it was introduced?

Employees have responded with a feeling of positivity after volunteering and are keen to get involved more. We are proud of and thankful for our 14,000+ Earthforce champions across 40 offices, 90+ teams who volunteer their time to support Salesforce and community climate action. We also empower our employees to give back through our Citizen Philanthropy program. This enables them to drive both individual and collective impact by supporting causes and organizations that are meaningful to them, making a difference through their time, talent, and resources.

There is something for everyone out there and it’s up to the employee to discover which type of volunteering fits best. Going it alone or joining a team. Doing Pro-bono work, supporting their local communities, attending virtual volunteering, going abroad to help out where needed. There is so much choice and the more you attend the more you discover the positive effects on your mental health and well-being. When volunteering, generally you don’t get the chance (or want to) look at your laptop/phone and you socialise with your colleagues and people at the charities. This provides a break from your world and a window into another where you are part of a group giving back and enhancing other people. It makes you feel good.

If other businesses were looking at whether to offer more flexibility around volunteering days, what would you advise them to consider?

I would urge them to understand and promote the benefits of volunteering, where connecting with people and giving back has a positive impact on any workforce. Make it a goal, metric or challenge for the year for your employees to all attend some volunteering and give back to others.

Start from the top. If you encourage all managers to participate, then their teams will be more enthusiastic to step out of their comfort zones and attend.

I would recommend getting to know the charities available to you locally and start by arranging a group to attend and support. For example, we have formed a successful partnership with Hersham Hounds since Voluntary Support North Surrey introduced us in 2019. From 2019 – Feb 2023 we have created 162 shifts and over 300 different volunteers have attended.

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