Donating and charity

As ya’ll may or may not know, I now work for Salesforce.com. A large part of this company is The Foundation, which is the charitable branch of the company. The Foundation was created within a year after the company was formed, before they had their IPO.

Salesforce believes in what they call the 1-1-1 ratio — 1% profit, 1% product, and 1% productivity.

1% profit is kind of obvious — 1% of the company profit goes to charitable organizations.

1% product — Salesforce currently has over 3000 non-profit organizations that use the software for free. Salesforce does customer relationship management software (CRM). Think huge database for keeping track of donors, volunteers, projects, etc. The software isn’t regular software that you install in your computer — instead, it’s what’s called “Software as a Service” (SaaS). You access it (and your data) over the Internet, so any computer with an Internet connection can use the software. In addition, the software is extremely customizable — for example, there are a bunch of schools that use it for tracking student attendance, homework assignments, teacher meetings, etc. In addition, Salesforce has the AppExchange. Say you’ve customized the software to do something really cool. You can package up that application, then either sell it to other customers, or offer it for free. If you are associated with a non-profit organization and it sounds like this software would be useful, go check out the web site. You can sign up for a 1 month free trial of it to check it out. Also feel free to send me an email and ask me about it.

1% productivity — Salesforce encourages its employees to do volunteer work by giving each employee four hours of paid time off per month with which to do it. I volunteer at the Jewish Family Services (JFS) Center on the second and fourth Friday of every month, handing out food to needy families. I’ve been doing this for a couple of months now. As a result, I’ve formed some opinions about the types of food items that people donate. One thing: our center also gets a lot of food donated to it in bulk, like oats, rice, bread, boxes of potatoes, etc.


1. Canned protein. Tuna, chicken, ravioli, chilli with meat, etc.
2. Dried or powdered milk
3. Men’s razors. They’re always asking us for them.
4. Toothpaste. Not big tubes, but the little travel sized ones.
5. Bars of hand soap.
6. Small packets of laundry soap.
7. Hygiene products in general, like tampons, pads, shampoo, etc.
8. Cookies, crackers, trail mix — easy to carry food.

What we tend not to need:
1. Pasta. We get so much and people leave it behind all the time.
2. Condiments, particularly those that need to be mixed with something. Like dried pesto sauce, or guacamole mix.
3. Bread machine mix. (Seriously — why would you donate that?)
4. Bread crumbs.

It’s been such a good experience working at JFS. I keep thinking, “There but for the grace of god go I.” We all work at making the people in the line feel human, laugh and talk with them. We have a lot of Russian Jewish immigrants, so we’re all learning a little Russian.

The heartbreaking cases aren’t the kids. They at least seem to be well-loved. It’s the young men in their 20s, good looking guys, who are shivering because they’re either high or coming off something. I’ve seen these two different groups of them every time I’ve worked. They’re nice, well-spoken, seemingly educated, and yet they are there, in line for food. I don’t know their story. But they sadden me the most, more than the older people in line, more than the homeless ones who need the no-cook bags.

Comments (6)

  1. Thank you — this is really useful information that I’ll be saving.

    My in-laws tend to shower us with Canadian and British food every Christmas, and several occasions throughout the year: Nainaimo bar mix (an extremely complicated, even in mix form, unhealthy dessert), canned sticky toffee pudding, Hollondaise sauce packets, etc. My husband has lost his taste for a lot of this stuff, and recognizes that most of these products are essentially fat and sugar. So we don’t want it and we hate to throw it away, but even I know that there’s no point in donating this stuff to a food bank. Nobody will have heard of most of it so they won’t know what to do with it, and it’s hardly healthy or even reasonable food. So mostly we try to find British friends who might want it.

    Another thing that troubles me is that I’m trying to eat mostly vegetarian (I still eat lots of dairy), so I hesitate to donate meat products* — but I know that many people don’t have the luxury of choices like that, even if they would want to make them. However, I worry that many vegetarian products are also too “exotic,” for lack of a better word, such as hummus. Potential recipients might want no part of them. Are you aware of any sources of vegetarian protein that actually do make good donations? What about things like canned baked beans, or is that like pasta — too many donations and no one takes them?

    (*It’s not a hugely moralistic thing for me — I know we’re at the top of the food chain — but the industry and its affect on the planet concern me.)

  2. Thank you — this is really useful information that I’ll be saving.

    My in-laws tend to shower us with Canadian and British food every Christmas, and several occasions throughout the year: Nainaimo bar mix (an extremely complicated, even in mix form, unhealthy dessert), canned sticky toffee pudding, Hollondaise sauce packets, etc. My husband has lost his taste for a lot of this stuff, and recognizes that most of these products are essentially fat and sugar. So we don’t want it and we hate to throw it away, but even I know that there’s no point in donating this stuff to a food bank. Nobody will have heard of most of it so they won’t know what to do with it, and it’s hardly healthy or even reasonable food. So mostly we try to find British friends who might want it.

    Another thing that troubles me is that I’m trying to eat mostly vegetarian (I still eat lots of dairy), so I hesitate to donate meat products* — but I know that many people don’t have the luxury of choices like that, even if they would want to make them. However, I worry that many vegetarian products are also too “exotic,” for lack of a better word, such as hummus. Potential recipients might want no part of them. Are you aware of any sources of vegetarian protein that actually do make good donations? What about things like canned baked beans, or is that like pasta — too many donations and no one takes them?

    (*It’s not a hugely moralistic thing for me — I know we’re at the top of the food chain — but the industry and its affect on the planet concern me.)

  3. I’m blown away by your company’s policy – it’s sad that it’s not the norm, that it is so very surprising. How amazing to be part of that.

  4. I’m blown away by your company’s policy – it’s sad that it’s not the norm, that it is so very surprising. How amazing to be part of that.

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