The Next Big Thing for SAP Volunteers
SAP Employees looking to organize volunteer projects for colleagues can find support with the new SAP Volunteer Ambassador Program.
Every Tuesday, week after week, Anne Schultz addresses herself to a task which requires true grit and an extra portion energy. And she does it voluntarily. Anne cares for families with seriously ill children. Every Tuesday, the SAP Concur colleague promptly finishes work at 4 pm. At 5 pm, she starts her shift at the entrance to the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati, U.S., a non-profit corporation with the McDonald’s food company as largest corporate partner. Despite some of the tragedies she encounters there, Anne finds fulfillment in her work. “We see great and small miracles here every day,” she says. “The work isn’t always downbeat. When the families arrive, we can offer them the support they need, and alleviate some of their burdens.”
Sharing precious moments
Ronald McDonald Houses are institutions that have been set up close to specialist clinics, where families, whose children are facing serious medical crisis, seek accommodation. The house in Cincinnati offers accommodation for up to 78 families, and is permanently occupied. The families are entitled to live in the Ronald McDonald House for up to two years while their children undergo treatment in the nearby clinic. The families come from all over the USA, are often unfamiliar with the area. As if the emotional distress weren’t difficult enough, due to the high cost of treatment they are sometimes pushed to their financial limits. The children are often hospitalized for months at a time, sometimes for years.
“For me, one of the greatest moments is when I get to inform families that they can move in after a room has become available. The families are often so desperate that they either sleep in their cars, or on the floor in the hospital just to be close to their children,” explains Anne with a trembling voice.
Anne has been working at the institution for the past five years. She even celebrated her fiftieth birthday there last year. Instead of gifts, Anne came to the house with her friends and family, and prepared a dinner for all the residents. She is now looking to encourage her colleagues from the Cincinnati area to get involved in charitable projects. And she has become one of the first employees to participate in the SAP Volunteer Ambassador Program.
SAP Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) launched the initiative to support employees who want to expand their voluntary work to include colleagues, and to organize their own projects. Anne is planning to invite a group of colleagues to the Ronald McDonald House this spring. Using the Volunteer Ambassador program, she wants to talk to colleagues about their experiences in organizing volunteering activities, and learn how she can best approach her own initiative.
Realizing own CSR projects
Joaquin Monaco from Argentina is also member of the Volunteer Ambassador network. Based in Buenos Aires, he heads up the marketing campaign execution team for Latin America. Acting as a volunteer ambassador, Joaquin has already put together a committee of twelve colleagues who are responsible for charitable activities organized at the South American SAP location throughout the year. For Joaquin, volunteering is a virtue. As a father of two with a full-time leading position, this simply comes down to good time management. “Luckily, SAP has plenty of CSR opportunities. It’s really easy to get involved,” says Joaquin.
As a volunteer ambassador, Joaquin is free to expand this offer and organize new activities. He receives additional know-how in online trainings or from discussions with other CSR colleagues as well as logistics support. Joaquin also talks with his manager about the amount of time he is able to invest. “As an SAP employee, I’m able to participate in SAP CSR events whenever I like, and as a volunteer ambassador, I now have the chance to lead projects. I can carry forward what I’ve learnt from SAP CSR and maintain contacts with charitable organizations. With that, I can contribute to SAP’s vision, even beyond my day-to-day work,” explains Joaquin. He and his team can take on the responsibility on all levels of a volunteering activity – from project identification to resource allocation to bringing the event to life.
“The SAP Volunteer Ambassador program equips employees with skills to drive volunteer engagement together with colleagues,” says Alicia Lenze, head of SAP Global Corporate Social Responsibility. She explains: “By establishing a global network of employees who receive support and guidance as they lead volunteering activities, the program broadens SAP’s volunteering portfolio in the communities where employees live and work, increasing SAP’s local relevance and social impact.”
This year, Joaquin and his teammates are aiming to get more non-profit organizations involved in SAP services. Yet this is far from an easy task, Joaquin explains, as people at SAP have high expectations. “Take catering events, for example,” explains Joaquin. “A small non-profit provider can’t necessarily prepare coffee and croissants as well as competitors who produce mass quantities. Yet their production might be more sustainable.”
On the other hand, this project offers plenty of opportunities for employees to get involved. “It starts with the procurement colleagues for instance who work to ensure that services for non-profits are easily recorded.” For Joaquin, another good argument to motivate colleagues to volunteer: “Sometimes you don’t even need to leave your workplace.”