Salesforce Gears Up To Host Annual Benefit Concert

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Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz perform at an event in 2015
Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz perform at an event in 2015

Come next Tuesday night the place to be is AT&T Park for Salesforce’s annual benefit concert. The event, which is one of the highlights of Dreamforce (the company’s annual conference), features Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz. All of the proceeds from the concert are donated to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland. Now in its eighth year, the concert has raised over $55 million for the hospitals which provide world-class care for Bay Area youth and advance breakthrough discoveries. The festivities on November 7 start with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m. and the performance at 7:30 p.m. Afterward, there is an exclusive party at Pier 48 were Will.I.Am and MC Hammer will perform. To get a sense of the importance of this milestone fundraiser we reached out to Salesforce and connected with Ebony Frelix, the senior vice president of philanthropy and engagement at the Salesforce organization. Here is how our conversation went down.

Why is this concert so significant?

Ebony Frelix: Raising this amount of money for hospitals in one night every year is unprecedented and we’re incredibly grateful for the community support and our ability to scale for this fundraising to continue being successful.

Tell us about the role you’re playing at this year’s event.

EF: We have been partnering with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals since 2010 during Dreamforce to raise critical funds for pediatric research and to provide critical access to healthcare for all kids in our community. I am amazed by the extraordinary children served at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and by the courage of those who work on their behalf. They have dedicated their lives to protecting a child’s right to learn, grow, and play no matter what medical issue he or she might face.

Ebony Frelix
Ebony Frelix

What is different and new this year at Dreamforce and the concert?

EF: This year, we’re proud to be a part of a second concert—Band Together Bay Area, a benefit on Thursday, November 9 with the best seats going to first responders, volunteers, and others impacted by the fires that recently devastated Northern California. 100% of ticket sales will be directed to the Tipping Point Emergency Relief Fund, supporting community partners working on the front lines to help those hit hardest. Salesforce is proud to be apart of a coalition of Bay Area business and community leaders to support long-term recovery and rebuilding.

What are you most excited about for this year’s concert?

EF: It’s a great honor and always very exciting to meet the Colin Powell Medal of Courage recipient. Each year UCSF Benioff Children’s Honors a patient for their bravery in the face of illness.

MC Hammer and Will.I.Am at last year's concert
MC Hammer and Will.I.Am at last year’s concert

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

Why is philanthropy important to you?

EF: Our philosophy is that the business of business is improving the state of the world and giving back to the communities we live and work in. Philanthropy was designed into the very fabric of Salesforce through our Pledge 1% model where we donate 1% of the company’s equity, profits, and employee time to give back and support community needs.

Since 1999, Salesforce technology has powered more than thirty-two thousand nonprofits and education institutions; we’ve provided more than $168 million in grants; and our employees have logged more than 2.3 million hours of volunteer time. For us, it’s more than just writing a check: our mission is to help create change in the communities where we live and work.

Tell me about some of Salesforces new philanthropic missions.

EF: I’m proud to be a part of the Salesforce Ohana, where we believe everyone deserves access to a quality education. At Salesforce.org, we’ve made education for all one of our top priorities, and our goal is to provide opportunities for underrepresented youth in the communities where we live and work to gain exposure and experience in computer science that will help them become college- and career-ready. Ultimately, we believe this will lead to a more talented, skilled, and diverse workforce.

Earlier this fall, we announced a $12.2 million donation to public schools in San Francisco and Oakland to expand computer science education. This is our fifth year of partnership with San Francisco Unified School District and second year with Oakland Unified School District, where we’ve donated more than $34 million. By making STEM more accessible, we’re investing in our future and paving the way for generations to come.

A rendering of the UCSF Benioff Oakland hospital that will debut in 2020
A rendering of the UCSF Benioff Oakland hospital that will debut in 2020

How is the tech world changing the face of philanthropy?

EF: Nonprofits, NGOs and education institutions have a tremendous opportunity to leverage new technologies to scale up their impact and ultimately achieve their critical missions. Because we’re more connected than ever before, social good organizations can also scale like never before. Historically, a lack of resources and funding have plagued the social sector, but technology can help small organizations make a big impact. Now, it doesn’t matter whether an organization has 8 or 8,000 employees, the amount of people that can be reached is limitless.

Get tickets now for the Alicia Keys/Lenny Kravitz concert or the Band Together Bay Area benefit.

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