Build Your Salesforce.com Skills Through Volunteering
A lot of people ask me how they can develop or broaden skills in managing, using or administering Salesforce.com. My typical answer includes signing up for a free dev org at http://developer.force.com, leveraging the many step by step guides in Salesforce’s Help & Training page, and volunteering for a nonprofit organization. The last one might surprise you, but in my experience nonprofits have some of the most interesting use cases for the force.com platform, are more likely to use it throughout their organization, and are often willing to leverage volunteers.
Last year, NPower, a national nonprofit that brings information technology services to nonprofits, unveiled a site dedicated to connecting nonprofits to corporate volunteers. The Community Corps allows you to search through requests for volunteers by category and see listings with details of specific needs. Check them out at http://www.thecommunitycorps.org! Another approach is to join a nonprofit user group in your area to meet with organizations who might need help. User group listings can be found at http://success.salesforce.com.
Since the Salesforce.com Foundation began offering free and deeply discounted licenses to nonprofits, more than 6000 orgnizations have adopted the platform. Countless more can and will benefit. Application partners in the ecosphere have joined in to offer similar deals on their products, resulting in a great boost to nonprofit infrastructures. Put together this generates a clear win-win for you in developing your Salesforce skills and the many nonprofit organizations that can benefit from some business system acumen.