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Bringing Salesforce’s “Pledge 1%” to Open Source

Alyssa Arvin
Aug 27 - 3 min read

Did you know that contributing to open source is a great way to give back?

Giving back to our community is one of our core values at Salesforce; in fact, it is actually built into our DNA with the 1:1:1 model! To stay true to Salesforce and also celebrate our love of open source, the Salesforce Open Source Programs team has launched internal quarterly volunteer events. It has been a success at Salesforce and we want to encourage other companies to do it as well.

Our employees have the opportunity to spend 56 hours per year doing Volunteer Time Off (VTO), but, even if your company doesn’t offer this time, volunteering together can be a great way to build team camaraderie. It’s easy to do and we carefully outlined the steps below if you are interested in bringing this to your company!

What qualifies an open source project as giving back or volunteering?
If the open source project you contribute to is clearly philanthropic in nature, or belongs to a nonprofit, it is a great project to use as a volunteer activity. However, if your contributions align with your normal work function, we do not count it as a volunteer activity.

Many open source projects belong to nonprofit foundations, such as:

Because so many open source projects belong to nonprofit foundations, you may be surprised at the scope of what counts as volunteering.

Motivation and intent are a big factor in determining whether something qualifies as giving back or not. In general, “If you have to ask, it’s probably not giving back.”

Steps to plan an Open Source VTO event:

  1. Determine if your team or company has an area of focus that they would want to contribute to. For example: recent events such as wildfire relief or COVID-19 tools, projects that support an employee resource group (ERG), etc.
  2. Review the projects available in the HFOSS Project Directory.
  3. Select projects that you feel fit with your team or company’s interests.
  4. You can have everyone contribute to the same project, but we recommend giving three to four options. People can also work on a project of their own choice.
  5. We recommend choosing projects that have a Code of Conduct in place. Codes of Conduct help facilitate safe, welcoming, and productive work environments for contributors.
  6. Is there someone in your company who regularly contributes to open source? You can ask them to give a quick overview of Open Source and why it’s important. This can help motivate people who have never contributed before. (For reference, our events normally start with a one hour introductory talk and then provide three hours of time for participants to work on open source contributions.)
  7. Provide some tips for first time contributors that will be joining, such as:
    – You can look for issues on the project’s GitHub repo tagged “Good First Issue,” “Beginners Only,” or “First Timers.”
    – Look for the project’s “Contributor Guide.” You can do a web search for the project name + “Contributor Guide.”
  8. Share the projects that they will be working on ahead of time. Some people might want to check them out to get ready.
  9. Encourage people to work in groups!
    – Open source can be intimidating for someone who hasn’t contributed before. Encouraging them to work in groups allows them to ask questions and receive support as they make their first contribution!
  10. Don’t have everyone in the same space? This is a great event for distributed teams. You do not need to all be in one place. When we run them they are fully virtual since open source can be done anywhere, anytime.

We would love to hear about an Open Source volunteer event you’ve held at your company! Share it on Twitter using the #opensourcevto hashtag.

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