Over the years, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has emerged as one of the greatest philanthropists in the San Francisco Bay Area, and he wants others to join him. Today at the CODE Conference, Benioff urged the members of the tech community to make stronger commitments to give back to their local communities.
A number of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the U.S. have already made the Giving Pledge, a promise to give away more than half of their wealth to charity. But that pledge isn’t a legally binding contract, and even those who make it aren’t required to give away their wealth until after death.
But Benioff said that’s not enough, and said he wants techies to begin giving back “right now.”
“San Francisco is a great city, and we are lucky to be there… But this is not its first gold rush,” Benioff said. He also noted that civil disobedience is in San Francisco’s DNA.
When asked what tech companies, founders, and employees can do about the growing unrest between inhabitants who have lived in the city for decades and the nouveau riche tech workers, Benioff said that the best thing they could do was to contribute more to the local community.
“I think the main issue is that tech has to be committed to giving back to the city,” Benioff said. “Every company needs to have a philanthropy strategy, even from the start.
He made a point to note that philanthropy was one of the founding principles of Salesforce, and committed to giving 1 percent of profits to charity and 1 percent of employee time to community service. Employees have contributed 600,000 hours of community service, and the company has more than 20,000 nonprofits running its software for free.
“We need to integrate with the community, and the way to integrate is through giving,” he said.
Benioff also suggested that people in tech look beyond just their own city and focus on giving to “communities of promise” that haven’t benefitted as much from the economic recovery as San Francisco has. He noted that just across the bridge, Oakland is one of those communities, and recently made one of his first philanthropic gifts there recently.