By Okta.

More and more companies today are embarking on an important journey of corporate social responsibility programs and joining the Pledge 1% movement. Okta announced our program, Okta for Good, in August at our annual customer conference and since then we’ve put together the infrastructure, operations and key pieces to making the program a success.  In the spirit of “Giving Tuesday”, I’ve outlined some lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Get focused:

There are millions of non-profit organizations in the world and many important causes. It’s hard to decide where to start first. We recommend picking a few causes that you can focus on throughout the year.

We found that it’s easiest to start local, which we did with our commitment to SF Gives to benefit the Tipping Point Community.  Through SF Gives, 20 leading technology companies including Box, DropBox, Google, LinkedIn and others have committed to raising $10 million to fight poverty in San Francisco Bay Area. Starting local is a great way to make an immediate impact to your local community.

To help pick additional cause areas, we solicited feedback from our employees. It’s important to build a program that reflects your employee base and we wanted everyone to be involved in the process. Based on the survey results, we will also focus on youth education and wildlife in the upcoming year.

There are also a number of monthly causes that make it easy to get started. We hosted Breast Cancer Awareness programs in October, encouraging employees to wear pink, purchase pink baked goods and donate to fund cancer research.

Get operational:

When thinking about how your company can give back, one of the first places to look is your product. How can you donate your product or extend discounts to the organizations that need it most? In any non-profit organization, every dollar matters and the more dollars they can get directly to their cause, the better.

We’ve long supported non-profit customers with deep discounts, and have extended our commitment with a new offer of 25 free licenses of our product. We have +150 non-profit customers today including well known organizations such as Rotary International, Planned Parenthood, and City Year.  However Okta can make any company and organization more efficient and by donating 25 licenses of our enterprise IT product line, any non-profit can better manage how their employees, donors and members access important applications online.

Deciding what portion of your product to donate is one thing, implementing it is another. In order to successfully offer this discount and onboard new non-profits, we formed an operations committee.

First, validating non-profits is a tall order. In addition to determining what types of organizations qualify, every country has different documentation requirements. A number of companies work with TechSoup to help distribute their product to hundreds of thousands of qualified non-profits.

You’ll also need to think about the distribution and tracking of your product and most importantly, how to make your customers successful. Get the right leaders involved from marketing to sales to operations to customer success so that your new non-profit customers are successful and have customized content. And once they are successful, you can capture their success story to share with the world.

Make the time:

Mobilizing your workforce is key for the time commitment. Once we joined Pledge 1%, a number of team members raised their hands to get involved so we formed a volunteer committee. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the grassroots effort with a core Okta for Good committee and regional and departmental ambassadors.

So if you’re considering this, but worried about who will do the heavy lifting, start by asking around. You may be surprised to find ambassadors across your organization who will spend the extra time to source opportunities. Our committee pulled off a number of events in October for Breast Cancer Awareness month and our ambassadors are pulling together activities for the holiday season. I’ve also seen organizations dedicate volunteer days or Volunteer Time Off (VTO) to make their commitments.

There are a number of tools that can help source and track your volunteer efforts, including Benevity, BrightFunds, Golden and VolunteerMatch, so I encourage you to check out these resources as well.

Tap your network:

The great thing about working in social innovation is that you aren’t alone. We’ve partnered with other Pledge 1% companies Box, DocuSign, Tableau, Salesforce, Splunk and Twilio in ImpactCloud, a coalition of cloud vendors focused on helping humanitarian organizations with disaster response efforts. Through this cause, we’ve connected with similar companies building “for good” into their business.

Reach out to your partners, ask how they are giving back to the community and encourage them to Pledge 1%. Odds are you aren’t alone, and there’s a great benefit in being able to partner together.

There are a number of helpful groups and resources that we’ve tapped including the awesome Pledge 1% team, Tipping Point Community and the Social Innovation Summit to share ideas and inspiration.

Create a culture of giving:

Key to making a corporate social responsibility program part of your culture is leadership and cross-functional support. We’re fortunate that giving back has been part of Okta’s culture since the early days as our co-founders Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest engaged in local non-profits and have always encouraged employees to do the same. As we expand globally, it’s increasingly important to infuse Okta for Good across every department, regional office and to our remote employees to keep our our workforce engaged as we give back  to the community.

To make this part of your culture, think about how each department can leverage their skills such as coding or resume-writing “for good,” and keep open lines of communication.  We’re talking about Okta for Good in new hire on-boarding, our Weekly All Hands, sharing resources on our Wiki and sourcing volunteer opportunities to tap our team’s talents.

Ready, Set, Go!

While it may be daunting to build a corporate social responsibility program, any commitment you can make is a step in the right direction. Over the past few months I’ve been so inspired by the support across Okta and our network, so I encourage you to form a committee, find a few stakeholders and reach out to your partners for advice. When it comes to giving back to the community, we’re in this together so I hope this info helps get you started in the right direction!

Learn more about Okta for Good.