I am sure that we all have a social cause that is important to us and that we would like to give a helping hand. Giving back to the community motivates people working in the field and helps make a positive change. An especially meaningful way to contribute is to put together a team, find a purposeful cause, and go time-donating. This creates a connection between the people involved and creates long-lasting positivity for the people in need and also for the team who is contributing.
Finding a way to help is not always easy. First, which cause to support? Second, who to contact? And third, who organises everything? This is why Playtech Estonia joined the Let’s Donate Time Initiative. It offers all our employees one paid day a year to gather a team to volunteer for a cause. The idea behind it is easy, but in practice can be difficult.
Engaging employees to the community investments
For the past few years, we have had a CSR (corporate social responsiblity) strategy in place for giving back to the local communities. There are four focus categories that we support financially: education, health, diversity and environment. It is vital that our investments in the community are meaningful to our own employees. Our aim is to make them feel proud about our charity projects in order to get involved in providing a helping hand or volunteering together. An important part of the strategy is our Community Investments Committee, which gathers once a month and connects our employees who want to have a say in the CSR topics. Moreover, we organise traditional initiatives, where our people can contribute or suggest which organisations we are donating money to. For example, for the past three years, we have supported the Duck Race (Pardiralli) cause and doubled each euro that our employees have donated. Additionally, for the second year in a row, our employees have the option to not receive a present as part of the christmas gift from the company, but direct that money to a charity organisation among our four focus areas.
Initiatives that engage employees with good deeds help to create a foundation for becoming consistently involved, such as by donating their time to a cause they feel connected to.
Volunteering with Playtech Estonia Charity Weeks
One essential aspect of our global CSR strategy is employee engagement through volunteering. To encourage our employees to volunteer, we, for the second year in a row, organised the Charity Weeks with many different time donation options in Tartu and Tallinn. The aim was to offer different ways to give a helping hand in a two week period, in order to offer flexibility so that everyone has a chance to participate. Next to offering different time options, it is also important to choose activities in variety of fields, so that people with different interests could find something that is meaningful to them. For example, many of our people were interested in volunteering at local animal shelters or Food Bank.
Nearly 80 people were engaged in different activities and the emotions are still high. Here are some examples of the activities:
- Restoration of mud frog habitat with Estonian Fund for Nature at Lohusuu
- Maintenance works at Homeless Animals of Tartu
- Completing food-aid packages for people in need in food banks in Tartu and Tallinn
- Maintenance work at Maarja Küla
- Renovation works at Tartu’s Children Orphanage
The Charity Weeks were organised in a cooperation with Estonian local partner, Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations, who is doing a pilot project for developing as a volunteering service for companies. With their help, it was easier to find the right NGO-s who needed volunteers at a certain time and make arrangements with them.
The key take-aways from organizing the Charity Weeks:
There are definitely a few things that we are taking with us from organizing this year’s charity weeks and make it even more impactful next year!
- Include HR in the process – There probably is a person who is responsible for the employee engagement or CSR topics in the company. It’s crucial to have them on board when organising volunteering. They may have the network or knowledge about potential possibilities.
- Offer activities in various fields – There are people interested in helping animals, people in need, children, the environment. Offering different options engages more people with different interests.
- Team time donation – Spending time with your team creates good emotions and builds the connection. Even better when the event has a good cause and helps to make the world a better place. Rather than asking people to sign up individually, be flexible and encourage teams to donate time as one of the team events. We learned that, by in engaging teams, the approach should be personal and consider the availability and interest of everyone. Rather than choosing specific dates, ask them what kind of social cause they would like to support and what times are suitable, and only after that make agreements with the organisation or help the team with connecting them to the right people.
- Create meaningful partnerships with the organisations – Our people have been volunteering at some places for many years already. This means that the organisation already knows what to expect from our people and they welcome us with open arms. Same for the employees: many of them went to volunteer at the same place for the second year in a row and were moved by seeing that their contribution from the last year is still appreciated.