Year-End Reflections: 5 Ways Our Community Inspires Us

By Rob Acker | December 19, 2019 | Dreamforce, Higher Education, Nonprofit, Sustainability

A middle school student discusses Sustainable Development Goal #14

With all the challenges the world faces today, it can be easy to get caught up in the news. Let’s celebrate what’s going well and remember that we have a lot to be thankful for. Our customers, partners, grantees, and employees work each day to take on the world’s most pressing challenges represented in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals — the world’s to-do list for people and planet. We’re making some real progress.

So this holiday season, I’d like to share these five inspiring stories:

1. A Community of Co-Innovation

Supporting SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals

Social innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it takes collaboration and a diverse set of perspectives to make change. That’s why this year at Dreamforce, we launched Salesforce.org Impact Labs to co-design technology solutions that address the world’s toughest challenges.

We invited you, our community, to tell us what’s on your mind – the challenges that keep you up at night – and point us to the issues we should work on together. You submitted a whopping 550+ social issues (all aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals) for us to tackle and 500+ tech solution ideas. From here, our Impact Labs team is rolling up their sleeves and identifying common themes and trends amongst these challenges. In January, we will announce the first challenge that Impact Labs will tackle in collaboration with the community.

Larry Falivena, Salesforce.org and ALS awareness ambassador

Larry Falivena, Salesforce.org and ALS awareness ambassador

2. Communities Get Behind Finding a Cure

Supporting SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being

When we work together, anything is possible. ALS is a disease that takes away the ability to move your muscles, eventually making it hard to breathe. This one is also close to home since our Salesforce.org colleague Larry Falivena has ALS, and he dedicated himself to raising awareness and raising funds to fight ALS through a tour of every Major League ballpark in the U.S. last summer. He and his family raised over $30,000. Larry got a standing ovation at our Dreamforce nonprofit keynote this year.

The ALS Association was also at the keynote and shared that fundraising is critical to their mission because when you pour dollars into research, you find cures. Today, there are dozens of drugs in the pipeline thanks to donors. And now the ALS Association is supported by Nonprofit Cloud when a big viral fundraising moment begins. Larry’s story has inspired many to get involved, and you can also contribute to Larry’s cause.

Donna Kidwell, CTO of EdPlus at ASU and Geshri Gunasekera, Senior Director of Higher Education Industry Solutions at Salesforce, spoke at the Education Cloud keynote at Dreamforce 2019.

Donna Kidwell, CTO of EdPlus at ASU and Geshri Gunasekera, Senior Director of Higher Education Industry Solutions at Salesforce, spoke at the Education Cloud keynote at Dreamforce 2019.

3. Inclusive Education at Arizona State University

Supporting SDG 4 – Quality Education

U.S. News and World Report has ranked ASU the most innovative university for the last five years. Their innovations are making an impact: ASU enrollment is up 10%, and this year the university welcomed their largest class ever, with over 119,000 students, over a third (35%) of whom are first-generation.

ASU and Salesforce have partnered to use blockchain to design a Trusted Learner Network that allows ASU to access an individual’s learning accomplishments through all stages of their life. This means ASU is able to track a student’s entire educational journey and personalize the support they need to succeed.

Another way that ASU leans into inclusivity is a “choose your own adventure” online quiz for transfer students. The quiz kicks off a customized email sequence that sends students content based on their interests, creating a personalized experience from the beginning of their journey with ASU.

4. Kellogg Fights Hunger Through Giving and Volunteering

Supporting SDG 2 – Zero Hunger

As noted by the United Nations, Sustainable Development Goal 2 is all about eliminating hunger around the world. The good news is, companies and employees are partnering with nonprofits to tackle this challenge.

Kellogg’s purpose is to nourish families so they can flourish and thrive. Kellogg uses Philanthropy Cloud to power its Better Days Hub — a single platform where employees can find everything they need to get involved with Better Days, Kellogg’s program dedicated to fighting food insecurity. For example, employee volunteers can give back by assembling after-school food packs for kids to take home on evenings and weekends.

With all of its giving and volunteering data in one place, Kellogg can easily see which content and activities are most effective at engaging employees and double-down on those efforts.

Through Breakfasts for Better Days, Kellogg has already helped make billions of days better for people in need, providing 1.9 billion servings of food since 2013. That includes making sure children have the best start to their day by getting breakfast at school.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the number of all-time employee volunteer hours volunteered provided to support US organizations mapped to the goals. Note: U.S. organizations were mapped to the goals via National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) code, which do not provide a direct mapping for goals 6, 7, and 13.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the number of all-time employee volunteer hours volunteered provided to support US organizations mapped to the goals. Note: U.S. organizations were mapped to the goals via National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) code, which do not provide a direct mapping for goals 6, 7, and 13.

5. Empowering Our Employee Philanthropists

Supporting all 17 SDGs

We’ve seen that what starts as one employee’s mission can ripple into a movement of collective impact. Equipping our employees with the tools and time off to give back has been a part of our culture since day one, and today that means empowering our 45K+ employee philanthropists to drive the positive change they seek.

I’m proud to share that Salesforce employees have contributed more than 4.5 million volunteer hours to organizations where we live, work, and play. For more about our impact, see the Salesforce.org Social Impact Report 2019.

It’s been an inspiring year of positive impact from our customers and global community. As we look at the year ahead, Salesforce is kicking off a year of action to continue our commitment to the SDGs. We will be donating $17M to organizations advancing progress on the SDGs and committing 1M employee volunteer hours by Dreamforce next year.

I invite you to join us in the SDG year of action.

Share your ideas with us on Twitter: @SalesforceOrg with the hashtag #SDGforce.