200,000 hours of volunteer work as part of Global Volunteer Day
The largest coordinated employee volunteering program is our annual Global Volunteer Day. The idea originated in the Asia-Pacific region, where the first Volunteer Day took place in 2008. Since 2011, we have been calling on our employees worldwide to participate in the volunteering program; in 2013, the program was expanded to include volunteer activities throughout the entire year. Today, many local relief initiatives and organizations rely on the support of our employees and turn to us for support whenever project demands exceed their own capacities. Projects and project timing are coordinated on an individual basis together with the respective organizations at the country or regional level, with the main period of activity in September of each year.
Participation levels in 2013 demonstrated the growing interest in Global Volunteer Day. In 2012, 62,000 employees and nearly 1,000 customers and business partners worldwide took part in over 1,000 local projects; in 2013 the numbers nearly doubled, with about 100,000 employees and over 3,000 customers and business partners participating in 1,578 projects in 127 countries – a significant increase over previous years. Overall, more than one in five employees volunteered their time and energy to local community and/or environmental projects.
We began recording the number of hours volunteered by our employees for the first time in 2013, making it easier to evaluate and communicate the program’s impact. Over the course of our third Global Volunteer Day, our employees performed roughly 203,000 hours of volunteer work, the equivalent of 25,375 eight-hour workdays or 5,075 40-hour work weeks.
Employees can choose from a wide range of projects. Over the years they have helped restore rivers and collect waste on beaches, river banks and other natural habitats; they have renovated kindergarten facilities in disadvantaged communities, organized community events for children and teens, helped at street festivals, transported mobility equipment for free, performed music for the sick and elderly, and helped young people prepare their resumes and job applications.
Our goal is to establish lasting relationships between our employees and the various project partners – relationships that extend beyond the Global Volunteer Day timeframe. We are increasingly able to realize this goal and will be including the annual number of volunteer hours performed in our future reporting. In 2014 we will once again organize Global Volunteer Day, which we regard as an important momentum-builder for our volunteering program.