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Pro Bono Pro shares how to be a Successful Technology Volunteer

By Cheryl Timoney June 25, 2015

Matthew Watson, a Salesforce Senior Program Architect in Australia, started working on pro bono projects soon after he joined Salesforce nearly 4 years ago. Now, Matthew’s sharing his knowledge from these projects to help take our Salesforce Pro Bono Program to the next level.

Matthew has joined Salesforce.org’s new Global Pro Bono Committee, a team of volunteers that work to evangelize and promote pro bono opportunities for other Salesforce employees. Until recently, Salesforce.org didn’t have anyone dedicated to the program. Now, we have a team.

St Martins Youth Art CentreSo far, Matthew has personally been involved in implementing three pro bono projects, all small nonprofits in the creative arts—radio, theater, artists. Though it’s close, he’d have to say that his favorite project is the St. Martins Youth Arts Center, a theater company for children and young adults that makes art to reflect their artistic vision “children inhabit the earth, not just inherit it.” Matthew worked with colleague, Kim Davies, to do the Salesforce customization that helped St. Martins increase their participation, decrease their marketing budget, attract and maintain new donors and improve customer services for youth and their parents. Find out more about the impact of this project.

According to Matthew, a successful technology volunteer is one with an appetite to be hands on. And, even if your job involves working directly with customers, it’s important to recognize that nonprofits probably speak a different language than your customers. Nonprofits often don’t think in terms of opportunities, contacts or products. Salesforce terms need to be translated into words more common to nonprofits such as donations, volunteers, and membership.

Matthew also suggests that volunteers avoid doing all the work for the organization. He thinks, like the adage, “if you teach a man to fish…” it’s more meaningful to train them. Ideally, you want to oversee them as they make the changes themselves.

To increase pro bono involvement, the Pro Bono Committee has been working hard to provide employees tools that encompass these best practices like updating training materials and empowering regional ambassadors of pro bono who will act as chairs and support pro bono projects in their region. “We want to make the Pro Bono Program even better and more global,” Matthew says.

What’s his advice for future pro bono volunteers? “Don’t hesitate. If you feel you are too busy, it’s likely that that is when your mind is alight with the talent that a not-for-profit could really use. Big or small projects are vital to the lifeblood of these organisations and getting involved really does change lives. Find out what is important to you, today.”

Learn more about the Salesforce.org Pro Bono Program and get involved today.