Last night I attended a dinner to celebrate the release of The Business of Changing The World: Twenty Great Leaders on Strategic Corporate Philanthropy, a book by salesforce.com's Marc Benioff (written with Carlye Adler) that covers corporate philanthropy, with essays by Michael Dell, Craig Barrett (Intel), Mike Eskew (UPS), Jean-Pierre Garnier (GlaxoSmithKline), Phil Marineau (Levi Strauss), Steve Case (AOL) and a dozen other executives. Corporate philanthropic foundations in the U.S. provide about $30 billion a year in funding for causes. Benioff's Salesforce Foundation is funded with 1 percent of the company's stock, 1 percent of company profits (through product donations to over 1,000 nonprofits) and donating 1 percent of employee working hours to community service.
In the introduction to the book, Benioff writes:
"I'm amazed by the potential of more companies employing integrated philanthropic initiatives at earlier stages in their life cycle. What if this were done on an even more massive scale? Consider what would happen if a top-tier venture capital firm required the companies in which it invested to place 1 percent of their equity in a foundation serving the communities in which they do business. If embraced, this new model could dramatically increase the percentage of overall corporate donations and even lead to what Fortune magazine writer David Kirkpatrick has called 'the end of philanthropy' and prove the true power of the integrated community service model."
Google followed salesforce.com's lead, placing 1 percent of its equity into a foundation.
During the dinner, several nonprofit directors, who were also salesforce.com users, talked about their various efforts to make the world a better place. It was a humbling experience. HopeLab, for example, developed a game, Re-Mission, for children being treated for cancer. According to Richard Tate of HopeLab, stuidies have shown that patients who play Re-Mission, a 3D shooter game that takes players on a journey through the bodies of young patients, fighting different kinds of cancer a nanobot named Roxxi, improves adherence to cancer therapy regimens, cancer-related knowledge, self-efficacy, and quality of life. VolunteerMatch provides a service for volunteers and businesses to find local nonprofits and to match them based on skills and interests. In its eight-year history, VolunteerMatch has matches 2.6 million volunteers with more than 42,000 nonprofits in the U.S. Project Homeless Connect is rallying 2,000 citizens in San Francisco this week to provide San Francisco's homeless population with easy access to medical and social services.
At the end of the dinner, Benioff told a story of volunteerism and having some friends in high places. A group volunteers were helping to put computers in a school in Washington D.C., climbing up three floors in 110-degree heat. They called Benioff to say they needed more help. Benioff promptly called Colin Powell, who within 30 minutes had enlisted several U.S. Marines to assist in the effort. That story also makes a nice transition into salesforce.com's Dreamforce event next week, where Colin Powell will be a keynote speaker. It would philanthropic of the former Secretary of State to address what's gone wrong with this country of ours and how to fix it, but I doubt that will be his subject matter.