Why Our 1% Pledge Matters & What We’re Doing with it This Holiday Season


By Lauren Keepers

What matters to our friends at Salesforce, matters to us. Period. Especially when the opportunity to improve one of our communities is up for grabs. That’s why, as a Salesforce Silver Consulting Partner, we’ve pledged to commit 1% of our time, 1% of our profit and 1% of our resources to support local causes we treasure. After all:

 

“The business of business is improving the state of the world.” -Marc Benioff, Chairman & CEO, Salesforce.

 

It’s our duty as humans to be compassionate. Our goal is to do as our #SalesforceOhana does and drive change behind important causes by leveraging our people and our expertise. Riverwest Food Pantry, a cause close to our hearts, is a Milwaukee-based organization that advocates for relieving our beloved hometown of hunger. Over the past two(ish) years, we’ve dedicated time and resources to transforming Riverwest Food Pantry’s Salesforce environment and improving overall user adoption.

Since 2016, Canpango’s VP of Professional Services, Erik Eklund, and Riverwest’s unparalleled (we might be a little biased, but not to the point where we can’t objectively put talent into context 😉 ) Executive Director, Vincent Noth, have worked together to identify two major organizational challenges: 1. Shopper profile information and intake was easily mismanaged, lost and untrackable, and 2. In order to grow from “Pantry” to “Community Center,” Riverwest required a platform for volunteers to easily access, collect and protect all data pertaining to their Team Stride mentorship program, which included data like ongoing communications with social services, housing documentation, job placement progress, clothing distribution and more.

Additionally, Riverwest and Canpango spotted the need to streamline the organization’s shopper intake process, which resulted in Canpango tailoring a more user-friendly CRM instance that easily allows Riverwest staff and volunteers to build shopper profiles and track historical shopper needs, while also securing information for required profile fields like name, address and annual income. The solution design’s success is slowly (but surely) being rolled to other Milwaukee-based food pantries with the goal of allowing pantry administrators to be able to generate big-picture answers to strategic questions like:

  • What are shoppers depending on our organization for?
  • How successful are we in aligning them with the right services?
  • Where do we thrive?

Lastly, Riverwest’s long-term goal of transitioning from a sizable food pantry to a full-service community sanctuary is bound to keep the master vision alive – to tackle the root issue relating to hunger by playing a more direct role in the fight to end poverty through a program called Team Stride. The program’s name speaks for itself – it encourages community members to put one foot in front of the other and get back on the right life path by connecting them with community resources. For instance, a configuration of Riverwest’s Salesforce Chatter feature has enabled Team Stride mentors to breathe life into services like resume and job interview preparation by enforcing knowledge and resource sharing transparency between all volunteers. Mentor questions are seen, heard and accurately answered in a timely fashion, which promotes greater productivity across the organization and increases program efficiency.

This season, Canpango wanted to step outside of the traditional tech work we’ve supplied our Riverwest friends in holidays past and instead, lend a helping hand onsite. Consultants, marketers, accountants, solution architects, business analysts, recruiters and C-level executives joined forces with Riverwest volunteers at Gaenslen Milwaukee Public School to weigh, sort and organize canned goods, build tables, line boxes with plastic bags and support shopper profile data entry alongside Riverwest volunteers and staff.

Vincent delivered an interactive debrief workshop after volunteer work was completed to challenge participants to consider a fresh perspective on how the face of hunger in Milwaukee should be identified. First, he segmented those that partake in food pantries into four main categories:

  1. Single Parent Households
  2. Underemployment & Unemployment
  3. Elderly & Disabled 
  4. People in Crisis

Then, Vincent outlined the different systems that contribute to hunger, all of which are key players in contributing to a larger poverty issue, too. Legal systems, school systems, food systems and transportation systems are all constructed generationally and directly impact the four segments of the population described above. Questions like, “What is your first memory of a police officer?” and “What is your graduation rate?” were discussion tactics that painted a picture of the drastically different experiences children can have if they are positioned at opposite ends of the system. A fellow process engineer put it best when he said, “Every system is designed to produce a certain outcome. I want to see the system redesigned from generation to generation to ensure that outcome is favorable to each one of Milwaukee’s community members.”

Now, if leaving with a collective, invigorated sense of getting a better foothold on “our city” and “our future” isn’t inspirational in echoing the season of hope and giving, I’m not quite sure what is.

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