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The other day Salesforce announced that it was integrating its philanthropic arm, the nonprofit Salesforce.org, into the larger organization, Salesforce.com. This makes a round trip for “the org” as it’s sometimes called. At its founding, Salesforce built its 1-1-1 model of philanthropy — donating 1 percent of its equity, product and employee time to communities around the world — into its core business.
As you can imagine, such an endeavor starts slowly but builds momentum over time. To date, Salesforce has donated more than 3.8 million hours of employee time and more than US$260 million in grants. A few years ago, Salesforce established the org as a public benefit corporation under California law.
That all went along swimmingly until the org developed its own vertical apps, including the Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud, Nonprofit Cloud, and Education Cloud. Voila, the org was in the software business. However, it might not have had all of the resources a software company would need, so merging seemed sensible.
Salesforce has been playing both a long game and a short one for a long time. The short game is easily understandable — it sells seats of use to corporations. These include the company’s flagship CRM, partner apps, and development tools for those who want to roll their own apps. This makes perfect sense in the software business.
The longer game, which takes some explaining, is more about culture transfer. As the company has evolved, it has helped set standards for modern business. It has used what it built in an “eat your own dog food” way. That’s partly responsible for the Salesforce culture and it’s something the company is not shy about exporting.