Marc Benioff is a man on a mission: to win corporate leaders over to the concept of making charitable giving a part of a company's culture early on. Benioff speaks from experience. He established a foundation at his company, Salesforce.com, early in its existence and adopted a 1:1:1 model: The company donates 1 percent of its stock to the foundation to be used for grants, 1 percent of its profits to the community through product donations, and 1 percent of employee work hours to community service. (Salesforce.com employees get paid time off to pursue their own charitable interests, from painting an orphanage in Poland to playing Santa Claus at a local housing project.)
For Benioff, corporate philanthropy starts with an involved, impassioned CEO committed to doing more than simply writing checks, and if he had his way all CEOs would follow his lead. In fact, many have, including the eighteen contributors to The Business of Changing the World. These include the executives of businesses as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline, Cisco Systems, and Starbucks, all of whom discuss their companies' approach to and successes in corporate philanthropy. Taken together, their examples comprise a best-practices guide for corporate CEOs, be they Fortune 500 veterans or start-up entrepreneurs who want to incorporate social responsibility into their business model.
In his introductory essay, Benioff calls for his CEO peers to embrace corporate philanthropy from the top down and to view it as a win-win situation for both the community and the corporation. That sentiment is echoed by Dell Computer founder Michael Dell: "If we have happy employees, they will do better. If we have good community relationships, we will do better."
Elsewhere, Charles H. Moore, executive director of the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy, urges corporations to develop programs tailored to their strengths — typically involving a mix of cash gifts, in-kind contributions, volunteerism, and pro bono services. Regardless of the final mix, each company, says Moore, must define the business and societal outcomes it is looking to achieve and the resources it is best suited to provide. For instance, Mike Eskew, CEO of UPS, describes how his company has hired 60,000 people through the Welfare-to-Work program, while Larry Fish, CEO of Citizens Financial Group, goes into detail about his company's Housing Bank and Housing Heroes initiatives, both of which support the creation of affordable housing.
Benioff is obviously onto something. Salesforce.com was named one of the "100 Best Corporate Citizens" of 2007 by CRO magazine, and in the months since The Business of Changing the Worldwas published he has taken his philanthropic model a step further. At the urging of an employee, the company is developing plans to offset its greenhouse gas emissions and will help finance wind farms and a dairy farm methane-energy project.
In Benioff's own words: "Building the foundation from an intellectual idea to a practical reality that has served 100,000 people in need has been one of the most rewarding [experiences of my life]. I have received the most remarkable opportunity to lead an organization that makes 'doing good' an integral part of doing well." His words echo those of Nathan Swartz, the immigrant who bought a small shoe factory that became the Timberland company, who simply said, "You got to do for others."