Reflections on a corporate volunteering initiative during a crisis
Voluntarios Telefónica [Telefónica Volunteers] is a corporate volunteering programme aiming to transform the lives of those less fortunate through time, effort, knowledge and resources, in accordance with social work, values and the strategy of the company. We are, in turn, part of Empresas que Inspiran [Inspiring Enterprises], the first national corporate volunteering platform, developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The platform seeks to position the value of corporate volunteering and its strategic contribution to the company, collaborators, and society, as a means for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from its most precious asset: its collaborators. Voluntarios Telefónica mobilizes more than 2,600 annually and leverages its partners to support the implementation of the SDGs. Since 2007, we have been supporting volunteers who provide help to vulnerable groups in 21 cities, and promoting their inclusion in local and community development.
Normally, we offer a wide variety of face-to-face volunteering opportunities to our collaborators, family and friends who often engage in aid campaigns, volunteer activities for a day, and more recently, in the transfer of knowledge and skills. Most of our partners not only become leaders of their own social initiatives, but also aspire to become agents of social change.
As a result of the pandemic, we have redesigned our entire programme and initiated virtual and easy-to-execute volunteering activities that allow our partners to participate while taking advantage of the programme’s resources and strengthening its relationship with other strategic entities.
During the pandemic, we had to quickly reorganize the corporate volunteer programme’s activities. Voluntarios Telefónica [Telefónica Volunteers], a solidarity network that provides support to vulnerable groups to transform their lives, evolved from and in response to the emerging health needs of vulnerable groups during the pandemic. We pivoted and established a network that would allow us to mobilize our telephone volunteers without exposing them to health risks through face-to-face interactions.
Voluntarios Telefónica launched different calls for virtual volunteering nationwide to make possible donations of bespoke biosafety equipment for firefighters and medical personnel, deliveries of food and cleaning supplies to different shelters and reception centres, and digital activities targeted at children through school programmes or digital literacy for the older ones.
A key achievement during the pandemic was Voluntarios Telefónica’s “Maratón de Iniciativas Ágiles” [Agile Initiatives Marathon], a rapid pandemic response campaign that took place between June and August 2020. The initiative was so successful that we ran it twice, in June and August, in 22 cities as well as the capital, Lima and several provinces, with over 1,200 volunteers providing support to more than 5,300 people.
During the lockdown, we forged strategic partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), churches, municipalities and regional governments in an effort to better understand and respond to local communities’ needs. With funding from the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, we created opportunities that allowed volunteers to engage in social programmes. Besides helping us to better understand communities’ needs and reach those most affected by the pandemic, these strategic partnerships enabled us to operate more efficiently. Meanwhile, the private sector made great efforts to generate volunteer activities and the state, through the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, also created opportunities that allowed corporate volunteers to commit to various social programmes
By working in partnership with others, we can achieve extraordinary things. In this regard, the Empresas que Inspiran platform has an essential role by helping to reactivate corporate volunteering in other companies. We want to continue forming alliances that allow the participation of the different actors of the corporate volunteering ecosystem, in line with the SDGs and citizenship empowerment.