Learnsmarter -Pledging 1% the Learnsmarter way
Pledging 1% the Learnsmarter way
Published 6th April 2017
By Sean Dukes
In News
The first time I heard about 1:1:1, the Salesforce philanthropy model, was at Dreamforce Europe 2008. Back then, Salesforce’s visit to London was a two day event, held at the Barbican Centre. I discovered several interesting things during those two days, including ‘Platform as a Service’ that sowed the seed for the creation of Learnsmarter, but the 1:1:1 model really made an impression on me - especially when Marc Benioff asked all the not-for-profit customers in the audience to stand up and everyone applauded.

For those of you not familiar with the concept of 1:1:1, it’s a philanthropic model where an organisation gives 1% of its equity, 1% of its product and 1% of its time to good causes. Salesforce has done this from the start and in that time has donated over two million employee hours, hundreds of millions of dollars of product value and over $160 million in cash grants to good causes around the world.

It’s easy to say that Salesforce can do that because they’re a big company, but smaller companies can deliver on the 1:1:1 model too.

We were slow starters, but we’ve been steadily moving towards 1:1:1 and I’m proud that in 2016 we finally took the 1% pledge (plegde1percent.org).

Pledge one percent logo

The equity bit was done quite some time ago. When we did our first small funding round, we set aside 1% of the shares for the planet and registered this at Companies House. We’ve had a couple of small raises since then and have maintained the 1% stake. It’s pretty simple; what we do is issue one new share to the planet for every 99 we issue to anyone else.

Product is even easier and we simply offer a discount for not-for-profits. It’s a minimum of 10% and can be much higher. We can’t directly control our customer mix of course, so the exact percentage of the benefit goes up and down. It has been more than 1% and although it isn’t there right now, we certainly hope that we get back to at least that level soon.

Time is the tricky one. I can absolutely see the benefits of sending a group of employees out to work with a charity, but the truth is that our customers would probably notice if nobody turned up for the day. The idea that there are alternatives was shared with me when I decided to spend the night in a cardboard box.

Trinity Winchester (trinitywinchester.org.uk) is a charity that works with homeless and vulnerable people in Winchester where we have our offices. I see homeless people every day and wanted to do something positive to help. The ‘Big Sleep Out’ was an easy thing to sign up for and it was even quite good fun. I’m doing it again this year if anyone wants to sponsor me! https://virginmoneygiving.com/seandukes

Sean sleeping in a box at the Big Sleep Out

Chatting to one of the Trinity staff the next morning, I was talking about how we’d like to help more, but that finding the time was a bit of a problem. They explained that there are plenty of ways to contribute that don’t involve a huge time commitment. This is a concept known as ‘micro volunteering’. One thing that Trinity do is provide a hot meal every day and to do this they need something to cook. The supermarket supplies the food for free, but this needs to be delivered. You can volunteer by dropping into Sainsbury’s on your way into work, filling up with half a dozen boxes of produce and then taking these to the Trinity kitchen. If any of my staff do this twice a month and get in 45 minutes later than normal, then they’ve done a great thing and we’ve delivered on our volunteering commitment in a way that we’ll hardly even notice and that doesn’t negatively impact on our customers.

Of course, not everyone has a car or drives into work, but having got the micro volunteering idea into my head, I started to search around for other opportunities. These aren’t hard to find.

One organisation looking for help is the UN. I’d always thought that volunteering for the UN would involve travelling to a conflict zone and working with refugees or something like that. It’s a great and incredible thing to do, but not necessarily something that’s very practical for us. However, if you visit unv.org, you can also sign up to volunteer online.
Having signed up, you can access a range of opportunities. There’s plenty of translation work and requests for website builders, but these weren’t suitable for me. Some opportunities involve a significant time commitment too, but searching through the options, I came across a project run by the Tanzania Development Trust (tanzdevtrust.org). This project helps girls escape from the practice of female genital mutilation. It’s a horrific practice that’s illegal in Tanzania and girls die every year from the wounds they receive. What the Tanzania Development Trust does is rescue girls who are about to be harmed and take them to a safe house, but they have a problem. Unbelievable as it sounds, in Northern Tanzania where the trust is operating, there are almost no reliable maps. The rescuers are unable to reach girls in danger because they simply don’t know how to get there.

Tanzania Development Trust opportunity on unv.org

To be more effective, they need maps and there’s an open source mapping project that you can sign up to crowd2map.wordpress.com. What you do is pick an area that needs mapping, overlay it on top of a Bing map and then draw in roads, buildings and other features. People on the ground in Tanzania add in place names and then the maps are available to use. It’s a simple thing to do, but very useful. There are two ways you can help. One is to work on the maps. The other is to donate your old phones. Operatives on the ground need smart phones so that they can participate in the project. If you have phones to donate, then you can contact the trust via their website. They want old laptops too.

What’s great, apart from the fact that it’s a really good cause, is that you can donate as much or as little time as you have and you’re making a difference. We’ve held one mapathon to date and I’m delighted if any of my staff want to do a bit of mapping for an hour or so.
The final thing is to make sure we meet our target. You’ve probably heard the expression ‘what gets measured gets done’, so of course we have built an object in Salesforce and a simple dashboard to measure this.

Our volunteering dashboard

When we pledged 1%, we were signing up to an ideal without a clear idea about how we were going to deliver. Micro volunteering has given us the tool we needed to turn that aspiration into action. I’m not just proud to have pledged; I’m proud of what we are achieving too
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