When’s the last time you heard someone say, “I just found the most amazing nonprofit?”

Probably not recently, if ever. The truth is, the state of giving has changed with the rise of new media, for better and worse. On the plus side, the sheer ease of online giving has led to an increase in fundraising. Charity Navigator found that total giving has been at an all-time high in each of the past three years, hitting $410 billion in 2017. And individuals accounted for $286 billion of that — 70% of the total.

But the simplicity of quick giving has its drawbacks, too. Dan Pallotta, the author of “Uncharitable,” notes that this trend has turned philanthropy and giving into passive activities. He argues that the current status quo assumes that only the insanely wealthy can participate in active and meaningful philanthropy, that we don’t count those outside the top few percent as “philanthropists” because we only expect them to give $25 when asked to on Facebook. In his own words:

“Internet fundraising is exacerbating the problem. We’ve reduced activism to clicking... We ask people to do the least they can do, and we make it insultingly easy.”

Pallotta frames the solution to this problem as a change in approach and mindset. I’d add that technology can also be a part of it. Ideally, we can reach a place where technology doesn’t encourage passive giving but pushes us to actively search out causes we’re passionate about and build stronger connections to them through repeat donations, volunteerism and ambassadorship. The goal is to take ownership of our charitable efforts through tech, instead of letting it sweet-talk us into blindly following the herd.

And after watching Salesforce demo its new Philanthropy Cloud platform at its annual conference — Dreamforce — I’m convinced that this new product can be part of the solution. Because Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud has the potential to boost active philanthropy among employers, employees and everyday consumers. Here’s how:

What is Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud?

Those of you familiar with Salesforce.org, the charitable wing of Salesforce, might be wondering what makes Philanthropy Cloud different from its other solutions such as Nonprofit Cloud and the Nonprofit Success Pack. The answer is that, while Nonprofit Cloud is a solution built for charitable orgs specifically, Philanthropy Cloud is designed to serve as a technological bridge between nonprofits and donors. It provides a platform where businesses and their employees can organize and track fundraising campaigns (volunteer tracking will be available in 2019), while nonprofits can use it to expand their networks.

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How Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud Can Help Businesses Give More Actively

Corporate-nonprofit partnerships, like any type of business-world collaboration, take time and effort. A 2016 survey found that 80% of nonprofits reported difficulty building strong corporate partnerships around employee engagement and 90% struggled to maintain existing relationships. Limited resources at nonprofits can place the onus on businesses to keep these partnerships running, but often these businesses themselves don’t have many resources to dedicate either. That leads to fewer partnerships and fewer avenues for employee giving.

Well, Philanthropy Cloud makes it easy to start company-wide campaigns without waiting months to set up a formal partnership. The platform leverages GuideStar’s database of nonprofits to offer an expansive selection of nonprofits to donate to. It gives companies the technology they need to take the bureaucracy out of giving, for the benefit of leadership and employees alike.

How Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud Can Turn Employees into Philanthropists

Workplace giving is becoming increasingly important to today’s employees: Per America’s Charities, 88% of businesses say that charitable employee engagement programs help them attract and retain talent. And unsurprisingly, higher employee freedom to choose preferred charities results in more employee engagement. When the system works out ideally, employees feel empowered, companies retain them longer and nonprofits receive more donations. Everyone wins.

So imagine a platform where employees aren’t just offered the chance to participate in employer-vetted programs but have the option to blaze their own trail and find their own causes. That’s Philanthropy Cloud. It gives employees the freedom to both participate in existing campaigns and start their own. That’s right: The ability to explore the GuideStar selection of charities is available at the individual level too.

But here’s the real differentiator: Philanthropy Cloud leverages Salesforce Einstein’s AI functionality to recommend nonprofits, causes and campaigns to individual users based on their stated interests and past giving. So no longer must individuals choose between passive giving and hours spent searching for the perfect cause. The Philanthropy Cloud platform empowers them to find the ideal way to give back, allowing every user to become a committed philanthropist.

What’s Next: Bringing Consumers into the Fold

The final step here involves empowering consumers, who more and more want to buy from brands they identify with socially. Research has found that 91% of global consumers will switch to a brand that supports social causes, while 90% will boycott one that they feel engages in unethical behavior.

And in the Dreamforce keynote on Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud, Adidas’s Head of Digital Brand Commerce explained how companies can go beyond traditional corporate giving to engage consumers in social issues. Initiatives like asking for donations at the point of purchase or organizing consumer-accessible philanthropic campaigns allow companies to expand the reach of their charitable efforts. The interview underscores the broader limits of what’s possible with Philanthropy Cloud and what it can do to drive social causes forward.

So, to take a step back, let’s reexamine what all of this means for individual philanthropy. If Philanthropy Cloud can gain the adoption Salesforce envisions and transform giving in the way Amazon and Netflix have changed shopping and entertainment (respectively), then it can enable people to find employers that offer multiple methods of charitable engagement. It can provide them with a platform where they can readily discover causes meaningful to them. And it can help them better connect with brands on a social level instead of just an economic one. In these ways, it can drive us all to take a more active charitable stance in our lives, instead of waiting for causes to come to us.

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