By: Cathy Kading, Program Director, Innovation and Transformation Center
A little over three years ago, a small group of passionate and like-minded Salesforce employees got together to create an Employee Networking Group (ERG) to celebrate Agile practices. What started out as an educational and professional development opportunity, has turned into a volunteer powerhouse, on track to give back 2000 combined hours of pro bono consulting to nonprofit organizations, by January 2017.
AgileForce, started in 2013 by Salesforce employees John Pitney and John Rice, with original committee members, Chera Brantley, Sandy Dale and Cathy Kading, has blossomed to more than 275 members. The group’s mission is to create a learning environment allowing people to explore Agile practices, sharpen their skills and collaborate with a highly engaged community, while giving back.
Once we figured out how to stand up an ERG, a volunteerism component was our next priority. As part of Salesforce’s commitment to community service, it was important to stay true to our personal and corporate DNA. It was an easy solve because what better way to get better at Agile, than to practice Agile? This was the birth of Coding4Kindness (C4K). Originally the brainchild of John Rice and John Pitney, the hackathon concept was immediately embraced by the entire team. It helped us apply our shared skills and philosophies in an impactful way, while staying true to our vision of helping people learn and experience the value of Agile practices.
We completed our 5th C4K event in October 2016, supported by our new sponsor Cindy Morse, Marketing Cloud Vice President of Engineering Operations and Delivery. Cindy recently joined the AgileForce Ohana (family) and said, “seeing a large group of people dedicate a full 12 hours of their time to help local nonprofits improve the way they use technology, specifically Salesforce technology, is so impressive. I remember the day a team delivered an attendance predictor to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and their jaw dropped!” With her additional support, the AgileForce community is on track to deliver 2000 volunteer hours, by the end of our fiscal year. It is exciting to see our leadership as excited as we are, about the event.
Coding4Kindness started as a primarily coding focused event, within our Salesforce Marketing Cloud platform, for nonprofits based in the Indianapolis area. “We knew what we had was great and we needed to expand it beyond Indianapolis. We also knew we needed to emphasize it wasn’t exclusively about coding, and instead about all the things our people have to offer,” said Sandy Dale, Salesforce Product Management Director and AgileForce committee member. To that end, we hosted our first remote projects in October, 2016.
Both customer and volunteer teams were entirely remote. We had team members as far as Sydney, Australia working on our projects and were able to stay connected through video conferencing. Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) was one of our first remote nonprofits and affirmed the event’s success.
Shonnah Hughes, CRM Technical Lead said, “Coding4Kindness helped us visualize new and exciting ways to engage our donors. The event provided some much-needed support to our salesforce connector for Marketing Cloud. We greatly appreciated the level of detail and consideration that was shown to our org and would recommend and participate again.”
“We are excited to create more meaningful communications after learning how to better target, prepare and track our outreach strategies using Salesforce,” said Misty Havens, Web Developer for MIA, further demonstrating how this event allows our teams to provide so much more than coding alone. Past C4K offerings include marketing consulting, design and even Marketing Cloud product training. It really runs the gamut of our professional services capabilities, which is exciting not only for volunteers, but for nonprofits, alike.
Through our events, AgileForce has provided valuable services at zero cost to organizations. Most of these organizations cannot afford such professional support and it can sometimes mean the difference between being able to engage donors digitally and missing out. During our most recent event, the Fight For Life Foundation, Indianapolis Children’s Museum, and NexTech joined us in Indianapolis, while World Vision Canada and MIA joined us remotely. The value we bring to these organization is real and Karen Jung, President of NexTech said, “in just 12 hours, the team at Salesforce delivered creative and technical assets that would have traditionally taken weeks and thousands of dollars. Coding4Kindness is not just a feel good experience; it is a true game changer for NexTech.”
We are excited to be heading into January for our fourth and final event of the fiscal year, where we will exceed 2,000 hours of giving back.
Interested in getting involved as a nonprofit organization or volunteer? Connect with the AgileForce team at Agileforce@Salesforce.com.
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