This October, SAP Global Month of Service goes into its 15th round! Are you ready?
Kicking off the celebration early, we are proud to be sharing a selection of 15 inspiring volunteer experiences over the coming weeks leading up to the beginning of October.
SAP Global Month of Service, it is our company’s largest volunteer initiative. In 2018, employees volunteered in more than 900 projects in communities around the world. And it doesn’t stop with Month of Service! Our employees are leading meaningful volunteer events year-round, when and where the need arises.
This week, Maximilian Herrmann, from SAP’s Global CSR Team, had the pleasure to interview Ayse Bilgin – one of our Volunteer Amassadors in St. Leon Rot, Germany. Ayse has been organizing and managing corporate volunteer events for almost two years and she’s doing it with great success!
Hey Ayse, thank you for your time!
Can you tell us a something about how you got started with organizing corporate volunteering activities and what led you to becoming a Volunteer Ambassador?
Hey Max, thank’s for having me here. It all began one year ago when the former CTO of Concur started an initiative to find a – so called – Volunteer Champion for each Concur location. I’d say it is the Concur equivalent to the global Volunteering Ambassador network at SAP. The task was to organize and manage volunteering activities for about 100 department employees in St. Leon Rot. As I already connected engaged citizens with volunteering activities in Wiesloch in my spare time, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to get engaged in the corporate framework, too. Additionally, since March I also took over the role of a Volunteer Ambassador.
Do you think it’s important for a company to provide a framework and space that enables employees to volunteer?
In general, I think it’s great if a company also gives something back to society and really cares about the well-being of its employees. When I look back on the last 18 months and see how well the events go down with my colleagues, I am proud and happy to say – Yes, I like to work for a company that enables its employees to volunteer and provide extra time for this. That’s a big deal for me.
You have been organizing events in the Rhein-Neckar Region (Germany) for 18 months. From all the events you have organized so far, do you want to point out one event in particular?
Yes, sure. Mostly, my events involve animals and humans. I would like to give you two examples:
Last year in September, together with four other colleagues, I looked after handicapped children and young people on Volunteers Day in Mannheim. This was very close to my heart, as I noticed that our work was very well received and appreciated here. We were very warmly welcomed, and we had a great time together. Personally, I really took a lot with me from this event and I liked it so much that I organized a follow-up event for other colleagues. Instead of playing with the children, the volunteers built flower beds and did other work in the garden. In the end everyone involved was very grateful and happy to be able to participate in such an event.
At the other event we picked fresh leaves with eight colleagues for a little monkey in the Heidelberg Zoo. The special thing is that this monkey only eats fresh leaves and so we built up a winter supply of fresh leaves through our work. Everyone really enjoyed it and here and there I still visit the little monkey in the zoo.
Through this and other activities I now have established good contacts to the zoo and we regularly organize events there, that always goes down very well.
How do you motivate your colleagues to participate in those events?
I mainly organize events for my department here in St. Leon Rot. First, I update my Jam Page on which I publish all activities and create an event. Then I send an email to my colleagues with all necessary information and a link to the Jam Page. Additionally, I have the possibility to use the monitor in our coffee corner to advertise my events via digital signage.
Finally, I use SAP Together to manage my events. In general, I do not have problems to find engaged employees for my events.
Do you sometimes find that it is the same group of motivated employees who are showing up to volunteer, or is it a mix of colleagues – maybe also from other departments?
Yes, it’s very different – also across different departments. From my experience, some employees would like to be there more often. But basically, everyone has a granted eight hours per year to volunteer (per SAP’s CSR policy). That’s why it mixes very well due to the limited time available. But there are also people who take part in some events in their spare time or even on holiday. This is – of course – nice to see that people are interested outside the corporate framework as well. It’s also exciting that many are so enthusiastic that they would like to do a follow-up event right away. I am happy if employees identify and are interested in the sustainability of their volunteering. If this is the case, it was a great event!
Our 15th Month of Service is coming up in October! Do you have anything planned?
Oh, yes. There will be a great event in the Heidelberg Zoo. More information will soon be available on the popular platforms such as SAP Together or Jam!
Last question from my side. Do you have a special tip or recommendation for our readers to organize their first volunteering event.
It should be a fun event involving animals or some cultural stuff. From my experience they are easier to organize, and you will be more likely to find some volunteers for the event. For example, at my first event we baked waffles at the culture night of the Children and Youth Theater in Speyer. We were hard working, but also had so much fun and the whole environment and people around made it a nice experience for all of us. So, start with something funny and then get to the more complicated events