Since the beginning of the year the world has been turned upside down by Corona. Many small and large organisations and companies had to restructure and reorganise their work. Even voluntary work – which we from vostel.de are mediating and organizing sincerely – has been severely restricted by “physical distancing”. Alternatives were needed! With the help of some of our partner companies, we have been able to maintain our full commitment in these difficult times and continue to do good with creative projects. In the following blog post, we would like to give you an insight on what has been achieved in the last few months through the active commitment of our partner companies.
Corporate Volunteering with vostel.de
As a volunteering platform, we have been connecting volunteers with social organisations since 2015. Thereby, we are mediating short-term and long-term volunteering opportunities. We work with both private volunteers and companies that have firmly integrated corporate responsibility into their corporate culture. The cooperation with our corporate partners is (in most cases) long-term and as part of an individual Corporate Volunteering Program. From arranging individual voluntary work, pro bono activities and fundraising campaigns to social team events and social days – the range of corporate volunteering activities is wide. We create an effective package of solutions individually for each company.
Now the corona pandemic and the associated “physical distancing” led to the fact that in the last three months only a few volunteers were allowed to work directly on site. Compared to previous years, we were only able to publish 70% fewer volunteering opportunities with direct contact to people on our platform between March and June.
So we have rethought and designed new (online) volunteering possibilities. Now one can find twice as many volunteering opportunities that you can do from home on our platform than last year. Some of our corporate partners have also rethought with us and have worked hard to make commitment possible despite Corona!
Option 1: Get involved digitally!
For children, Corona presented a special challenge. Due to contact restrictions, they had to stay at home from one day to the next. Children and young people in refugee shelters were particularly affected. They had to spend time with the whole family in small apartments and adapt both their school work and their leisure time accordingly.
Therefore, many volunteers – among them some Zalando employees – presented themselves in front of the camera. With the help of short sports and handicraft videos and challenges, they made this difficult times for the young people from the refugee shelters a bit more enjoyable.
The children found funny magic tricks, such as those performed by Tai, a Zalando employee from the Corporate Technology department, particularly exciting. Tai also explained to us what motivated her to get involved in this kind of work. “The quarantine was a hard time for us all. When I saw Vostel’s proposal to shoot some videos for the children in a refugee shelter I began to think how hard the quarantine must have been for these kids. The idea to do something that could make them forget the boredom, even if only for a few minutes, was a great opportunity I decided to not loose. I spent quite a few time thinking about some easy magic tricks that the kids could have learned and practiced on their own in the shelters and this is the final result.“
Option 2: React to acute needs!
In recent months we also received many acute needs for donations in cash or in kind from our social partner organisations, which were caused by Corona. Events had to be cancelled and running costs were incurred nevertheless. Furthermore, homeschooling was (and still is) the order of the day. However, the digital infrastructure is still lacking in many places.
Our partner company Kolibri Games has therefore helped out with valuable donations in kind – and really quickly. Quinoa Bildung received a donation of several laptops for home schooling. Thus, the goal of Quinoa Bildung could be pursued, that all young people in Germany, regardless of their social and cultural background, get the chance to graduate and get a school connection. “For our young people, donated laptops were the only way to participate in learning during the school closing time. In this way, we were able to ensure that young people who did not have digital devices available at home for home schooling were not disconnected”*, says a delighted Susanne from Quinoa Bildung.
Kolibri Games donated Playstations to a youth facility of Laughing Hearts e.V., which is committed to equal opportunities for currently 2300 children and teenagers. With this, the boredom from the young people in a small space in their youth living group was driven away. As we can see, the children were very happy about it:
Option 3: Rethink!
A popular team event, which we often hold with our corporate volunteers, is the handicrafting of haptic books. We do this for the German Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBSV): Haptic books are children’s books for blind and visually impaired children with structures and figures to touch. The approximately 10,000 children affected in Germany can thus feel the (book) world with their fingertips. However, up to now there are hardly any suitable books, as the production is very costly.
As these group events were not so feasible since March, it was time to tinker under the motto “Do it yourself @Home”. Thus elements for 200 new haptic books were created!
Within the framework of this project, many individual volunteers picked up their materials themselves from Eva, the project coordinator of the haptic books at the DBSV. Among them was team from the Berliner Volksbank. Stefanie Even, a customer service employee at the Berliner Volksbank, told us how the handicrafts were done with her colleagues. “When the materials for the haptic book were brought to us at the beginning of June and the tasks were explained to us, we started distributing the individual tasks during the next lunch break. We cut, pasted and folded either during our lunch break or at home.” *
This was a great help for the DBSV: “Making children’s books online? Unfortunately, this does not work. But thanks to vostel.de we still found a way to be supported by volunteers without organising group events. The commitment of individuals who make parts of our haptic books for blind children at home has made it possible for our children’s book project to go ahead despite the Corona restrictions.”*, says Eva, the project coordinator.
And the feedback from Stefanie from Berliner Volksbank was also positive. “Corona allowed us to organise our “Social Day” on our premises as we wanted and had time. We had a lot of fun and even the odd husband or child helped. After only 14 days we were finished with everything. A nice, positive change in our (working) everyday life … a great project!”* Sounds like a win-win project for both sides! And the result is also impressive:
In conclusion, we can say that the challenges due to Corona have been solved creatively and energetically together with our partner companies. According to the motto “Where there is a will, there is a way!” great projects have been created!
And now you!
How are you positioned as a company on the topic of corporate volunteering? If you as a company would like to become active in a corporate volunteering program and participate in Social Days and team events, please let us know and send a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
*translated from German