The Salesforce Admins Podcast is back with another episode of our mini-series, Salesforce for Good, hosted by Marc Baizman, Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce and nonprofit veteran. For this episode, we’re talking to Jason Wurtz, Pro Bono Content Specialist at Salesforce.org, who helps nonprofit and education customers get assistance from a Salesforce employee. 

Join us as we talk about how you can best approach volunteering, and what Jason and his team has come up with to help you dive into the nonprofit world.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Jason Wurtz.

The Pro Bono Program at Salesforce.

“Nonprofit and education customers can get stuck in their journey with Salesforce. They may have implemented Salesforce, it’s going great, but they may need a little more hands-on assistance from somebody that has real expertise with the platform,” Jason says. Getting involved is as easy as filling out an application at salesforce.org/probono, which helps the Pro Bono team connect applicants with the right Salesforce employee to help them.

Jason’s role is to help develop content that helps volunteers translate their skills more effectively to the nonprofit world. If you’re a Salesforce employee looking to make a difference, simply log onto Volunteerforce to browse opportunities 

How volunteering changed Jason’s life.

Like a lot of people we have on the pod, Jason’s path to his current role was nothing if not meandering. He started off in finance working for big banks, then in marketing for a large consumer packaged goods company. “While I was working in marketing, I was also volunteering with an organization that matches tutors with homeless children,” he says, “and as I was volunteering, I could see first-hand all the challenges—some of them very much systemic—that were facing homeless families, and that transformed my outlook on the world.”

Jason switched careers to a grassroots nonprofit, Families Forward Learning Center, and eventually got his masters in social work. Of course, when he came back to the nonprofit world, he immediately went into fundraising and marketing. At one of these jobs, he became an “also admin,” figuring out the job along the way with no formal training. Eventually, this trajectory landed him in his current role at Salesforce.

How you can get involved.

If you’re a nonprofit looking for pro bono assistance, Jason has some advice to give about how to best fill out your application. For one thing, “be very clear on what you want to accomplish,” Jason says, “the clearer and more discrete a project you can request assistance on, the better the outcome.” Projects like building reports and dashboards, automating discrete business process, implementing a standard configuration, or a Lightning migration are very easy for volunteers to pick up and run with.

On the other side of things, it’s important to think about what is truly going to motivate you. We all have so many demands on our time, so you need to find something you’re passionate about that will help you follow through. “Pro bono projects tend to take time and they tend to unfold over several months,” Jason says, “so you need to find a project and an organization you’re excited about so when push comes to shove you can find the time.”

Nonprofits and education customers often are strapped for resources, and if a volunteer comes in and screws something up, they don’t necessarily have the ability to easily fix what went wrong. “If you’re thinking about volunteering, that is something that you really need to hold front and center,” Jason says. So if you’re looking to use volunteering as an opportunity to build your experience and skills, you need to be cautious about how you go about it. Jason and his team have developed Trailheads to help prep you for volunteering, so you can get your head around nonprofit specific things like the Nonprofit Success Pack and really hit the ground running and even find new organizations to help.

Resources: 

Trailhead:

Pro Bono Intermediaries: 

Pro Bono Reading:

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Full Show Transcript

Marc Baizman: Welcome to the Salesforce For Good mini series on the Salesforce Admins podcast. My name is Marc Baizman and I’m a senior admin evangelist here at Salesforce. Before I was an evangelist, I worked at Salesforce.org and in the nonprofit world, and I made many incredible connections with people doing amazing things with Salesforce technology and nonprofits and I really want to share some of them with you. In this podcast mini series, we’ll be talking to a variety of folks in the Salesforce nonprofit ecosystem, including admins, architects, consultants, and Salesforce.org employees. By the end of the series, you’ll learn what makes the nonprofit sector special, how Salesforce technology supports the missions of some amazing organizations that are making a huge impact, and you’ll learn about the fantastic community of people that are making it happen. Hi, Jason.

Jason Wurtz: Hello, Marc.

Marc Baizman: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast.

Jason Wurtz: Glad to be here. Thank you for having me.

Marc Baizman: You bet. Jason, can you tell us about what you do at Salesforce.org?

Jason Wurtz: Sure. I work on the pro bono team. To give you a little bit of background on the pro bono team, at Salesforce.org we have a program, it’s about six years old, in which nonprofit and education customers can request pro bono assistance from a Salesforce employee. You can find that on Salesforce.org’s website, Salesforce.org/probono. Customers, nonprofit and education customers, that get stuck kind of in their journey with Salesforce, so they may have implemented Salesforce, it’s going great, but they need a little bit more hands on assistance from somebody that has real expertise with a platform, it’s kind of the perfect solution for those kinds of issues that nonprofits and education customers quite often face.

Jason Wurtz: They can submit a request online. That goes to my team. We vet the application, clarify the scope, and then post that for Salesforce employees to apply to support that project. My role on the team is really to develop content to enable Salesforce employees to translate the skills they use in a commercial setting with nonprofit and education customers. That’s my primary role. I also do a lot of internal marketing, so raising awareness of the program, getting our employees excited to volunteer for the program, and also sharing success stories.

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. That is a lot of stuff. When I am thinking … I’m a Salesforce employee and I’m interested in volunteering in my local community. What do I do internally?

Jason Wurtz: Internally, it’s pretty easy. We have an internal app called Volunteerforce where all volunteer opportunities live. When a nonprofit or an education customer applies through our website, like I said, that application goes through our team, it gets vetted and then we publish it to that internal app.

Marc Baizman: We’re managing that in Salesforce, right?

Jason Wurtz: We are managing that in Salesforce, yes.

Marc Baizman: Cool.

Jason Wurtz: That appears as a volunteer opportunity and then any employee with the right skillset can sign up to help.

Marc Baizman: Cool. I want to dig into the skillset question in a little bit, but first I’d love to know how did you come to Salesforce, and what is a little bit about your background? Because I feel like you have some nonprofit in your background and I’d love to hear more about that.

Jason Wurtz: I do. I have a meandering background. I actually started off in finance.

Marc Baizman: Sure.

Jason Wurtz: I worked in the commercial sector, worked for a couple of big banks, then made the switch to a large consumer packaged goods company and worked there in marketing for a little bit. While I was kind of working in marketing, I was also volunteering with an organization that matches tutors with homeless children.

Jason Wurtz: As I was volunteering, I could see firsthand all the challenges, and some of them very much systemic, that were facing homeless families. That transformed my outlook on the world and inspired me to switch careers. Leaving a more traditional marketing role at a large company, I made the switch, worked for a grassroots nonprofit running volunteer programs.

Marc Baizman: That sounds great. Do you want to share the name of the organization?

Jason Wurtz: Yeah. It’s called Families Forward Learning Center.

Marc Baizman: Families Forward Learning Center.

Jason Wurtz: Yes.

Marc Baizman: Cool.

Jason Wurtz: Yes, based in Pasadena, California, not a Salesforce customer, but …

Marc Baizman: That’s okay. That’s okay.

Jason Wurtz: I worked there for a few years, then went to graduate school at UC Berkeley, got a master of social work degree, and promptly went into fundraising and marketing, because that’s what you do when you get a master of social work degree.

Marc Baizman: That’s right. That’s right.

Jason Wurtz: I’ve worked for a couple of nonprofits in the Bay Area before making the switch to Salesforce.

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. How did you find out about Salesforce, other than obviously the building of the giant tower? I’m curious as to how you sort of found your way from fundraising into Salesforce directly.

Jason Wurtz: Sure. My first nonprofit job after graduate school was at Mission Asset Fund. They’re a Salesforce customer.

Marc Baizman: They are.

Jason Wurtz: That’s when I was introduced to Salesforce, Salesforce Classic. This was a few years ago.

Marc Baizman: Sure.

Jason Wurtz: Didn’t have many opportunities to get in the system, but I became familiar with it, was a user, and then fast forward to my most recent job at the National Center for Youth Law, they had a very old fundraising database that needed to be replaced.

Marc Baizman: Sure.

Jason Wurtz: Given my background, given that I’d used Salesforce, we did do an RFP and finally settled on Salesforce and implemented with Exponent Partners.

Marc Baizman: Fantastic.

Jason Wurtz: Yeah, I became an also admin, so actually had no training really as an admin. I kind of figured it out along the way.

Marc Baizman: Very common scenario is someone is tasked with administering Salesforce and doesn’t necessarily have a background in it and has probably three other full time jobs and now you’re given Salesforce also to manage.

Jason Wurtz: Exactly. Yeah. My job was fundraising, so I was managing kind of individual donors. That was kind of my … I was also doing marketing and doing some communications, and then suddenly I was implementing Salesforce for the entire organization, not just the fundraising department.

Marc Baizman: Fantastic. Cool. Would you say that your implementation was successful? Have you gone back and seen it?

Jason Wurtz: Well, I do know that they bought a lot of new licenses and their utilization rate is pretty high.

Marc Baizman: Great.

Jason Wurtz: I think it is successful, yes.

Marc Baizman: Cool. That’s great. Congratulations.

Jason Wurtz: Thank you.

Marc Baizman: That’s a big deal. It’s a nice legacy to leave. You went from that organization, you obviously learned a lot about Salesforce, and your story is, I think, very similar to many of admins that are out there. How did you find your way to the mothership from there?

Jason Wurtz: Sure. Yeah. Actually it was through my network. My current boss, Cheryl Timoney, also used to work at Mission Asset Fund. I did not work with her. She had moved on before I joined Mission Asset Fund, but she was a close acquaintance with my former boss at Mission Asset Fund.

Marc Baizman: [inaudible 00:07:39].

Jason Wurtz: When Cheryl posted this job opportunity, she kind of communicated that with her network, including my former boss at Mission Asset Fund who said, “Hey Jason, this would be perfect for you. I think you should apply,” and I did.

Marc Baizman: That’s awesome. Oh, congratulations.

Jason Wurtz: Yes.

Marc Baizman: Well, we are so lucky to have you. I’m so glad that you have the background of being an admin at a nonprofit organization because you can really put yourself in the shoes of folks at nonprofits who don’t have training, maybe don’t have resources, have three other jobs that they’re trying to accomplish, and are really reaching out for help when they apply for pro bono assistance from Salesforce. I’d love to hear your thoughts maybe on the nonprofit side of the house and on the skill-building side of the house, so on the kind of employees who are determined to give their skills back. For organizations that are requesting pro bono assistance, is there specific advice that you might give them?

Jason Wurtz: Yes. I’d say the kind of first piece of advice I would give is to be very clear on what you want to accomplish. At least through the Salesforce.org pro bono program, the clearer and more discrete a project you can request assistance on, the better the outcome, is what we’ve seen.

Marc Baizman: Right.

Jason Wurtz: I can give you some examples of good projects.

Marc Baizman: That’d be great.

Jason Wurtz: If you’re struggling to build reports and dashboards, that’s a perfect project because many Salesforce employees have those kind of skills and they’re in their toolbox. Things like reports and dashboards, if you are thinking about automating some discrete business processes in Salesforce, don’t know how to do that, that makes for a great process. Even some kind of standard configuration, if you are trying to capture new data points or a new data set and you need some help configuring standard objects, that’s another really great project because it’s very discrete and it’s something that’s very easy for a volunteer to pick up and run with.

Marc Baizman: How about a Lightning migration?

Jason Wurtz: Ooh, that’s actually a very popular project as of late. We have a bunch of Salesforce employees who are Lightning ambassadors, Lightning champions. We have a special arrangement with them to take on these Lightning transition projects.

Marc Baizman: Cool.

Jason Wurtz: Yes, that’s another very discrete, something that has a very specific goal, that can be done in 15 to 20 hours.

Marc Baizman: That’s great. That’s great. For admins, not necessarily Salesforce employees, but for admins who are listening, if they want to give back, what’s the first thing that they should do?

Jason Wurtz: Well, I think the first thing that admins should do, or anybody really, is to figure out what you’re passionate about. What is going to motivate you? Because if you think about it, we all have very busy lives, whether it’s a demanding job or juggling, kind of raising a family, other interests that you have, you have to figure out, what am I passionate about, what am I going to commit to and what am I going to follow through on, right? I think that’s very important.

Jason Wurtz: In particular, if you’re interested in doing pro bono, because it’s not necessarily a signup for a two hour volunteership to help like at a homeless shelter or something, pro bono projects tend to take time and they tend to unfold over several months. You need to find a project and an organization that you’re excited about so that when push comes to shove and you have all these other demands on your time, you can figure out how to make it a priority and actually follow through on the project and get it done.

Marc Baizman: That’s great. Being passionate about the organization or the cause is key.

Jason Wurtz: Yes.

Marc Baizman: I would like to talk a little bit about kind of advice around folks who are maybe just getting started in the ecosystem, and maybe they’re given advice to volunteer and they don’t necessarily have a super strong Salesforce background. I’d love your thoughts on that.

Jason Wurtz: Sure, yeah, definitely. Definitely have a few thoughts on that. I would … For folks that are kind of new to the ecosystem, I think one thing you need to understand is how nonprofit and educational organizations that are using Salesforce are fundamentally different from a lot of commercial companies.

Marc Baizman: For sure.

Jason Wurtz: Really what that comes down to is a couple of things. Number one, resources, especially nonprofits, are very resource-strapped. What that means is technology is always under-funded. They often don’t have staff that have a lot of technology expertise, and therefore they have to use resources like Trailhead to scale up really quickly. It can be very challenging when you lack resources to hire a consultant, or you have an administrator who doesn’t have a technology background, who’s new to the role. If a volunteer comes in and quite frankly screws something up or messes up their org, they don’t have the resources to undo that.

Marc Baizman: Right. Right.

Jason Wurtz: That is something, if you’re thinking about volunteering, that you really need to hold front and center. I definitely appreciate and understand people that are new to the ecosystem who want to build their experience and skills. You just have to be very careful because when you volunteer for a nonprofit and this nonprofit is doing a lot of good for their community and they’re really relying on Salesforce to support their mission, if you come in as somebody who doesn’t have a lot of experience and you mess something up that you can’t fix, the chances are that nonprofit won’t be able to fix it themselves and that could have a ripple effect across their mission.

Marc Baizman: Right. Right. That’s great advice, and definitely good things to keep in mind for folks who are volunteering. In terms of people who are interested in volunteering, are there specific Trailhead trails or modules that we might recommend folks to take?

Jason Wurtz: Yes. We just launched a brand new trail called Volunteer Your Salesforce Expertise, so very kind of straightforward they make it there.

Marc Baizman: Terrific.

Jason Wurtz: That’s where I would start because what that trail does is a couple of things. It, number one, introduces you to the nonprofit and education sector. Some of what I’ve talked about, nonprofits having limited resources, et cetera, that is explained in that trail. It gives you an introduction to those sectors, which is really important. It gives you some context. It also introduces you to Salesforce.org, which is the social impact team within Salesforce that develops products and services specifically for the nonprofit and education sectors. This is really critical because we have … Salesforce.org offers a whole set of products and services that are specifically designed for nonprofit and education customers. These products often work quite differently than what most folks are used to in a commercial setting.

Marc Baizman: Right.

Jason Wurtz: The trail kind of gives you an overview of these products and services and also lays out your learning path so that you can learn these products before you actually volunteer. This is really important. You need to understand, volunteers need to understand something like the Nonprofit Success Pack, which is the standard solution used across nonprofits, which is an app that sits on top of the Salesforce platform. You really need to understand that product before you volunteer your time with a nonprofit. The Volunteer Your Salesforce Expertise trail will walk you through your learning path for those products.

Marc Baizman: Got it. I believe there’s also a new Trailhead project that helps you, that walks you through the process of installing the Nonprofit Success Pack into a Trailhead Playground org.

Jason Wurtz: Absolutely.

Marc Baizman: Another place to kind of test your knowledge and learn some more stuff. That’s great. Can you talk a little bit about maybe some success stories of some volunteering that you’ve heard about or folks have come back, either the volunteer or the nonprofit or ideally both have come back and said this was a really fulfilling experience?

Jason Wurtz: Yeah, definitely. I have one that comes to mind. I mentioned earlier one of our most popular projects for volunteers, to support our reports and dashboards. I think for many folks that have Salesforce expertise it’s like, well, reports and dashboards is like very basic stuff, but for many nonprofits it can be a bit of a struggle, especially if somebody, the admin is wearing many hats and has a lot of different jobs. It can be hard for them to kind of figure out exactly what kind of reporting they need.

Jason Wurtz: We have one customer, a nonprofit customer, High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, they submitted a project and they needed just some basic assistance. What they were trying to do is they have all of these different, what they call resources that they keep track of. They have volunteers who are providing these kind of therapeutic riding experiences for the nonprofit’s customers, who the nonprofit’s customers or clients are folks that have a variety of different kind of like physical and kind of mental health challenges that they need some kind of support and healing from. High Hopes Therapeutic Riding provides this kind of equine therapy, which is essentially matching a client with a volunteer and a horse. It’s a really interesting and really effective therapy for a number of different reasons. In Salesforce, this organization was tracking not only the client, but the volunteer and the horse and all the equipment that the volunteer has to set up for the horse. They were tracking …

Marc Baizman: Was there a horse custom object?

Jason Wurtz: I believe so, yes.

Marc Baizman: That’s fantastic.

Jason Wurtz: Yes. Yes. They had this data, they were all in different objects. What they were having challenges with was bringing all that information into a consolidated daily schedule that they could pass along to the volunteer so the volunteer would know, “Okay, here’s the horse I’m using, here’s the equipment they need and here’s the client that I’ll be working with and here’s the time I’ll be doing it.”

Marc Baizman: Wow.

Jason Wurtz: They were really struggling with that. I think it went a little bit beyond that though. This was a fundamental need they had of the system that they could not get from it. They implemented Salesforce a couple of years ago, and this was something that was frustrating for not only the admin but for the rest of the staff. I think they were starting to question, “Did we make the right decision going with Salesforce?”

Marc Baizman: Right. Right.

Jason Wurtz: The admin applied for the Salesforce.org pro bono program. They were matched with a volunteer who loves reports and dashboards, that’s one of her favorite projects to work on, and magic happened. They worked on, I think the project was around 15 hours. The volunteer was able to not only put together the report the admin needed, but show her how to build the report herself so that she could continue building reports, building dashboards on her own, which for the organization has unlocked a lot of value, right? Before, they were thinking, “Okay, we have Salesforce, we have all this data in Salesforce, but how the heck do we make it useful and actionable for us?” Now the admin, because of the pro bono project, she was able to enable herself to do some of this reporting for the organization.

Marc Baizman: Oh, that’s fantastic. Very cool. I love a good horse custom object. I love equine stuff. That’s amazing. A couple of other questions. I am wondering, for the admins that are out there, if they want to give back, maybe they’re passionate about a particular social issue or they’re connected to an organization, or maybe they’re not and they want to do some discovery, where should I send them if they’re not Salesforce employees? Are there specific places that I could send these folks who are inspired to give back? Hopefully they’ve done the trail that you recommend and gone the learning path, they’ve learned the NPSP or the education data architecture, they have that set of skills. Now where do they go?

Jason Wurtz: Good question. There are organizations that we refer to as pro bono intermediaries. These are mostly nonprofit organizations that connect professionals that have skills they want to give with nonprofits that have a need for skills. They [crosstalk 00:20:49]-

Marc Baizman: Got it. Not Salesforce-specific, could be anything, right?

Jason Wurtz: It could be anything.

Marc Baizman: Marketing, legal, web design, right.

Jason Wurtz: Yes, website design, legal, communications, finance, HR and Salesforce as well.

Marc Baizman: Sure.

Jason Wurtz: In the trail, if you take the trail, the second module on the trail called Pro Bono Project Management, there is a unit that talks about where to go to find these pro bono intermediaries. There are organizations all around the world that kind of facilitate pro bono projects. Some of the popular ones in the US are Taproot Foundation and Catchafire. They actually match a lot of Salesforce professionals with nonprofits that need help with our technology.

Marc Baizman: Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Admins out there, we’ll share these links in the show notes for sure. Cool. I would love to close with maybe an organization that you’re passionate about, if you don’t mind sharing, if there’s an organization that you’re either doing a pro bono project with or that you just really like and … Just share that.

Jason Wurtz: That is a great question.

Marc Baizman: I’m putting you on the spot here.

Jason Wurtz: Putting me on the spot, so I have to choose my favorite.

Marc Baizman: That’s right. Choose your favorite child please.

Jason Wurtz: Well, I have to say right now, one of the nonprofits I’m most inspired by is Year Up. Year Up is an amazing organization that trains young people that may not have finished high school or kind of finished high school but aren’t sure what to do with their careers, and they might have challenges that have kind of stalled their career. What it does is it provides programs for young people to skill up, to essentially learn how to work in a kind of corporate setting, right? We’re talking folks that might work in a retail setting or might be doing odd jobs, that are kind of trying to figure out what they want to do with their career. It provides them an avenue to get a job at a company like Salesforce.

Jason Wurtz: Typically a job like Salesforce, you would think, wow, you must have … You need all these … this education and have a master’s degree and have all of this experience. That is a huge barrier to a lot of young people who just don’t have that yet. What Year Up does is it creates that path for folks. They go through, I think, a year-long training program, they learn specific skills, and then they have an internship with a company like Salesforce.

Jason Wurtz: I’ve seen firsthand, I’ve had Year Up interns on my team, and have seen them really transform. They take on challenges, they learn and grow, and oftentimes they get hired by Salesforce. Our Year Up intern that was on my team last year recently got hired by a team that I’ve worked really closely with and she’s doing really well.

Marc Baizman: That is fantastic. Well, now I can put in a plug for our podcast producer, [CC Belarde 00:23:55], who is in fact a graduate of the Year Up program and she’s fantastic. I know all about this organization and we are so fortunate to have CC as part of our team, so that’s great. Thanks for sharing that, Jason. Well, thank you so much for being on the Salesforce Admins podcast today. It has been just a pleasure to talk with you again.

Jason Wurtz: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Marc Baizman: Wow. Jason was a blast to talk to. He was full of useful volunteering information and amazing Salesforce pro bono stories. I love a good horse custom object. Jason hit the nail on the head when we talked about new people in the ecosystem volunteering. Nonprofit and educational organizations are fundamentally different than the organizations you might be used to, and they’re not equipped with the same resources, so it’s important to make sure that when you’re volunteering, you are knowledgeable about the products that you’re using and committed to the project you’re signing for. This episode is full of nonprofit organizations that you can volunteer your expertise with, like the Taproot Foundation and High Hopes. We’ve linked to those in the resources below. If you’re interested in learning more about pro bono volunteering, you can connect with Jason on LinkedIn. He is Jason Alan Wurtz with a Z, and you can also check out the Salesforce.org website at Salesforce.org/probono. I’m Marc Baizman, and don’t forget to tune in next month for another episode of Salesforce For Good.

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