Pro Bono Mythbusters: Five Things You Didn’t Know About Volunteering at Salesforce

By Cheryl Timoney | October 24, 2017 | Pro Bono, Volunteering

Salesforce celebrates Pro Bono Week #WhyIProBono

 

According to the CECP, a CEO-led coalition on corporate philanthropy, pro bono is the fastest-growing volunteer program among companies and at Salesforce employee participation is growing year-over-year. In the past year, Salesforce employees have volunteered 45,000 hours of pro bono services! Our employees have built websites for leading environmental organizations, led social media campaigns to reduce domestic violence, and built public health apps on the Salesforce platform. When our employees put their world-class skills to work in the social sector, the results are transformational. Despite the growing movement, there continues to be some myths about pro bono volunteerism and those myths may be preventing employees from participating. In celebration of Pro Bono Week, it’s time to de-mystify pro bono volunteerism.

MYTH 1: Pro bono volunteerism is only for people with Salesforce skills.

Pro bono volunteerism is derived from Pro bono publico (English: for the public good; usually shortened to pro bono), a Latin phrase for professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment. While most commonly known in the legal profession, pro bono service is for all professionals who volunteer their professional services for the public good. This includes marketing professionals, business strategists, engineers, and customer service professionals alike. Take it from Hank Margolis, Global Managing Director M&A Alliances, “Pro bono doesn’t just mean technical skills and implementation. We can help nonprofits build business cases, and understand digital transformation and innovation.”

While Salesforce has a Pro Bono Program specifically for Salesforce.org customers to find Salesforce expertise, there are many ways professionals with other skill sets can find pro bono opportunities, including through pro bono intermediaries like Taproot Foundation and MovingWorlds.org. In addition to finding pro bono opportunities, these organizations help professionals understand how their skills translate in the nonprofit sector and what types of projects they would be best suited for.

MYTH 2: I am not enough of an expert to volunteer.

Before busting this myth, I’m starting with a DISCLAIMER: pro bono volunteerism is giving your professional expertise. And, it should not be used as a purely learning exercise because those in need of pro bono service do not have the resources to train and teach you as you volunteer. That being said, often we don’t give ourselves enough credit in our own expertise. You do not need 20+ years in your given profession to be an expert. Within 3-5 years of professional experience in a given area you are an expert to someone who has no to little skills in a specific area.

This becomes very clear through our Pro Bono Program where employees are volunteering with nonprofits who have little to no Salesforce experience. Guidance and direction can go a long way. Take if from Michael Grant, Senior Technical Business Analyst, “The person I worked with had never been in Salesforce other than that role she just started. The key was being honest and never promising something you weren’t 100% sure about.” Not to mention, Salesforce is a world class company with world class talent. And, seeking additional expertise where your own knowledge ends is only a chat away.

MYTH 3: I don’t have the kind of time needed to volunteer.

A common concern when it comes to volunteering is time. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of employees being realistic about their time, but it’s important to know that pro bono volunteer opportunities come in all shapes and sizes and they don’t have to be long-term engagements. Platforms like SkillsforChange give professionals the opportunity to volunteer their skills and knowledge in under an hour and complete “micro-projects.” Our Pro Bono Program aims to define projects that are 10-20 hours. No matter the engagement, the key to success is setting realistic expectations about our availability, honest and regular communication, and treating a pro bono customer the same way you would treat a paying customer.

MYTH 4: Pro bono volunteering is just more work.

I get it! We are busy working professionals and there are likely very few of us who want to create more work for ourselves. Some may be hesitant to volunteer pro bono for that exact reason. Our pro bono volunteers tell us that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to Jsun Pe, Senior Program Architect,“with pro bono projects you have more flexibility to make it the ‘ideal engagement’ you’d like it to be, and use the chance to make it slightly different. E.g. learn new skills, meet new people, look at different industries.” Pro bono engagements are a great opportunity for volunteers to use their skills in a whole new context, especially when they are working in fields or with organizations that are less resourced than those they work with in their day job. This environment often creates the opportunity for creative problem solving, and new skill development. Not to mention pro bono volunteers are likely meeting some incredible new people in the social sector and their “work” is taking on a whole new meaning when it is addressing challenges they are passionate about.

MYTH 5: Pro bono work has to be done during normal business hours.

One of the great employee perks of working at Salesforce is our Volunteer Time Off policy or “VTO.” Each year every employee gets 56 hours of paid volunteer time off! The full VTO policy is outlined in Volunteerforce and we know volunteering doesn’t always take place during normal business hours. Employees are balancing their days jobs and often find additional time to volunteer during the evenings, weekends or holidays. Pro bono volunteering outside normal business hours should be logged as VTO and counts toward eligibility of our matching grant benefits.

For all of you curious about pro bono volunteerism, take the next step and get involved. You can join your Salesforce pro bono volunteer community here. Ask questions, share your stories and bust some more myths for your colleagues.

This week we are asking Salesforce volunteers to share their own stories about pro bono volunteering with the hashtag #WhyIProBono. Tell us your story and bust some myths of your own!

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