The following is a conversation between Stephanie Slingerland, Director of Philanthropy and Social Impact at Kellogg Company, Nicole Adair, VP of Operations for the United Way Worldwide, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer WNYM in New York City.
Denver: I am in San Francisco at Dreamforce, the annual event put on by Salesforce, and with me now is Stephanie Slingerland, the Director of Philanthropy and Social Impact at Kellogg’s and Nicole Adair, the VP of Operations for the United Way Worldwide.
Let me begin with you, Stephanie. One of the signature programs at Kellogg’s is “Better Days.” Tell us about that program and its objectives.
Stephanie: Yes. Well, thank you for having me. Our Kellogg’s Better Days program is focused on food security. Food security has been an issue for Kellogg Company from the very beginning, obviously, as a food company. Helping to support our communities in that way has been core to who we are. In the last few years, we’ve been very intentional about focusing more of our efforts around this particular issue through this Better Days program.
When we think about food security, hunger certainly is part of it, but it’s also broader than that. It’s about making sure that we’re getting the food to people who need it and that we’re getting the right food to the people who need it, as well as that there’s enough food for everyone.
We have four pillars that we are tracking across this Better Days platform. The first is around nourishing with our foods. So, this includes things that we’re doing to make sure that people are getting the nutrients of need to address malnutrition, hidden hunger, and all of these kinds of things.
The second pillar is around feeding people in need. That’s the pillar that you might think of most when you hear about hunger relief. So, we do all of our food donation work. We have terrific partnerships with food banks across the globe, as well as a very particular focus on feeding programs for children. We support a lot of breakfast programs work as the world’s leading cereal company. You would expect us to be in that space. And so, with partners like United Way and others, we’re helping to make sure that kids are getting access to the food that they need every morning so they can have a great start to their day. That includes during the summertime as well when they’re not in school and getting those school meals.
The third pillar of our program is around nurturing people on our planet. So, this is the work that we’re doing, number one, to ensure that we’re doing our part from an environmental standpoint in terms of addressing climate change. But number two, it’s also working with farmers to help them adopt climate-smart agriculture practices to increase their yields.
And then the fourth pillar is really about engaging others in this journey with us. We recognize the issue of hunger and food security is not something that we can do alone; that’s why we have terrific partners like United Way and others, but we also want to create advocates for this cause, whether it’s our employees through volunteerism, or engaging our customers and consumers in this work as well.
Denver: A very thoughtful and holistic program.
Stephanie: Thank you.
Denver: About a year ago, Nicole United Way Worldwide and Salesforce launched Philanthropy Cloud. Tell us what it is and what kind of response are you seeing in the market.
Nicole: Thank you. Thanks for having me. So, yes, we launched a Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud about a year ago. It’s a platform that we are partnering with companies on to engage their employees through giving, volunteer opportunities, and additional things as we grow the product and add additional functionality.
We have about 200, a little more than 200 companies, using the platform to run a variety of giving and volunteering campaigns. We’re just starting to see lots of great results from that with great partners like Kellogg’s and others who are using the tool within their workplace.
Denver: Has it changed how local United Ways fundraise and the traditional workplace giving model that so many of us are familiar with?
Nicole: Yes. We’ve really had a privileged place I think in the workplace as an organization. We have incredible partners in a lot of corporations across the world, and this has changed that in a way that’s really exciting, where we have more of an opportunity to work with our corporate partners year-round.
Many of the traditional United Way campaigns you’ve heard of are kind of one time a year, and this gives us an opportunity… and the companies an opportunity to really empower their employees to go out into the community throughout the entire year, and easily see the results of those efforts and the impact they’re having on their local community, or the communities, in the different cities that they care about as a company.
Denver: Well, this past June, Stephanie, a new capability to this platform was added – volunteering capability – and Kellogg was one of the early adopters. Walk us through how this is working for you.
Stephanie: Yes. Well, as I mentioned, as part of our Better Days platform, engaging people in this journey with us is really important, and that starts with our employees.
And so, we were very interested in the Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud tool for its capabilities around employee engagement. We didn’t have a good platform for engaging our employees prior to the launch of this portal, which we’ve branded our Better Days hub. So now we have what I call our one-stop shop where our employees can go, and they can learn about everything that we’re doing with our Better Days program, what our partners are doing, and how they can engage with those partners, whether it’s giving or volunteerism.
We were very intentional in launching with volunteerism first– to the point that was made about sort of the traditional giving campaign time of year. We wanted employees to see this portal is more than just that. So, we do a giving campaign in the fall, but we really wanted the launch earlier than that. In fact, we were piloting it in April before it was even officially available to everyone else with our employees, and really making sure that they understood that this was something different. This is where they could go and engage. More than just giving of their resources, they could give of their time, too.
Denver: Beta Kellogg, that’s what we should call you.
Denver: In addition to Kellogg’s, Nicole, is this volunteering capability catching on with other companies? What are some of the features they have reported to particularly like?
Nicole: Yes. We have quite a few companies who are using the platform to track and manage their volunteerism programs internally. Some of the feedback we’re getting is just the ease and ability to see what their employees are engaging in in the community, how they can cater their programs to what their employees care about… just by having that data and that vision into how they’re interacting with the platform and fulfilling those opportunities on the ground in their communities. So, they have more data that they can use to inform their strategy for their corporate social responsibility going forward.
Denver: Nicole, human connection is so important to this sector. It’s the heart of everything we do. So, with the shift to digital, how do you keep the human touch?
Nicole: That’s a great question. I think we are very focused on looking at this as a supplemental effort. We know, still, that that face-to-face and that personal relationship that you have with a donor and a volunteer is paramount. We really look at this as a supplemental way for us to expose more people to philanthropy and give them an opportunity to perhaps start engaging in a channel that feels comfortable, and then knowing that we are providing other mediums for them to engage with our organization and others through in-person volunteerism, or having an in-person relationship with our local fundraisers in their community.
Denver: In closing, Stephanie, have you been surprised in any way by how employees are using this platform? What do you see as the ultimate potential of Salesforce Philanthropy Cloud for Kellogg’s, its employees, and the communities in which you operate?
Stephanie: The thing that I have loved about the adoption of this platform is how our employee resource groups have gravitated toward leveraging this tool. So, in addition to the corporate goals we have around volunteerism and engagement, each of our employee resource groups have their own goals around volunteerism and engagement, and this tool has allowed them an opportunity to better track it as well. So they can create those opportunities on the platform and have folks sign up and engage, and then we can track how many people were there so that they have that data for all of their goals.
So, I’ve loved that the platform is giving us much more rich and robust data than we ever had access to before. What I’m excited about is how we can look at additional opportunities for employee engagement through this portal. So one of the things we’ve been very purposeful in doing is when people leave an activity, we say, “It doesn’t just end here. We packed food packs today, but the issue of hunger – we need your support. So when you leave this room, you can take these actions.” And now we can point them to the Philanthropy Cloud or our Better Days hub and say, “You can give. You can volunteer at another time.”
But what I’d love to have on there, too, are advocacy efforts that employees could take. We just had a town hall where we gave out cards where people could send in information around child nutrition reauthorization to our local Senator. Wouldn’t it be great if we could facilitate that right through the hub? So, I’m excited about the great possibilities that are available through this tool.
Denver: Very exciting stuff. Well, thank you, Stephanie and thank you, Nicole, for being on the show.
Stephanie: Thank you.
Nicole: Thank you.
Denver: I’ll be back with more of The Business of Giving right after this.
The Business of Giving can be heard every Sunday evening between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Eastern on AM 970 The Answer in New York and on iHeartRadio. You can follow us @bizofgive on Twitter, @bizofgive on Instagram and at www.facebook.com/businessofgiving.