/ 4 November 2011

Helping others helps staff too

Helping Others Helps Staff Too

Best Corporate Employee Community ­Involvement Programme
Old Mutual Foundation

At Old Mutual volunteerism is part of the company’s culture, thanks to its skills capacity programme. It is all about helping staff to “give back to their communities”, said Louise Jones, staff volunteerism ­programme manager at the Old Mutual Foundation. There are many ways to get involved.

Staff can make monthly donations to a charity, or they can roll up their sleeves and participate in the “staff community-builder” programme. They can also give their time through a “care and share” initiative. The results are impressive.

In 2010, 1?164 staff members donated R1.2-million to charity. The amount was matched by the foundation to total R2.4-million, which was divided among a range of organisations. Beneficiaries included elderly people, abused and neglected children, people affected by HIV/Aids and organisations dealing with animal welfare. About 770 Old Mutual staff participate in the “adopt an orphan” programme, which provides 1?234 orphans with necessities such as nutrition, education, school uniforms and personal toiletries.

Since 2008 Old Mutual’s staff community-builder programme has given R13.7-million to 858 projects chosen by staff. It does not matter whether it is a community sewing group or a team of women producing vegetables from a small garden: “As long as our employees are passionate about empowering the community, we offer our hand,” said Jones. “There is nothing as rewarding as putting our money where it’s needed. You know it will empower not just a small organisation, but the whole community.”

The care and share programme allows employees to give one day a year to a social responsibility project. In 2011 the staff joined forces with Habitat for Humanity South Africa to build 14 houses in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

On Mandela Day, about 1?200 employees volunteered to pack meals for Stop Hunger Now that were donated to Masiphumulele informal settlement, a community in Cape Town struggling to recover from a devastating fire earlier this year.

An annual staff volunteerism awards scheme showcases and honours community projects that involve staff members. “Not only does this have an impact on the communities, it motivates employees because they can see that we are not just in business for profit reasons but also for development,” said Jones. It makes sense for another reason too.

Jones believes the personal fulfilment employees get from volunteering fosters high levels of loyalty and productivity across the company. It is about integrating the company and employees into “the fabric of our society” and proving that “actions speak louder than words”, she said.

The judges commended the reach and ongoing commitment of Old Mutual’s employee-giving projects, noting that they were making a remarkable contribution to both the staff and the communities in which they live.