Corporate volunteering has become an essential tool for embodying the values of a company and fostering respect and solidarity among workers. But also motivation, team spirit, pride of belonging and commitment. Convinced that they must do more to build a fair and sustainable world, more and more large organizations are integrating social responsibility policies into their strategies in which employees also actively participate.
According to the latest data, the number of Spanish companies that have incorporated this type of initiative into their strategy has grown by nearly 70%. Although during the confinement caused by the health emergency these activities had to settle for following an online format, with the return to normality they are recovering strongly.
It’s been a while since Santander Bank has aligned the entire organization in this cultural change. The entity has in the corporative volunteering a formula for generating value within the organization and further involving employees in its model of responsible banking at a global level. In Spain alone, more than 4,000 bank employees supported non-profit causes, projects and organizations in 2021 and, thereby, directly helped more than 18,000 people.
Many of the financial institution’s programs continued to focus last year on alleviating the effects of the pandemic among the most vulnerable people. The usual initiatives continued to function and comply with all health measures, either in person or virtually. In total, the number of employees who participated in social activities exceeded 28,000 people, who dedicated more than 46,000 hours of their daily lives to volunteer initiatives.
“These programs give us the additional opportunity to develop and learn, they take us out of our comfort zone, they make our commitment grow, our pride in working in a company that contributes to improving the lives of people and entities in the third sector and it makes us feel useful to society”, says Elena Leal, head of corporate volunteering at Santander. Bank employees have the right to devote a certain number of working hours to volunteer activities.
A global action
Every year, the entity holds two global volunteering events for its employees —the We are Santander Week and the International Volunteer Day— and, at the local level, all the geographies organize different activities as part of the commitment to invest in the community. They are actions that, by workers’ own choice, dedicate part of their time to solidarity, altruistic action, without receiving remuneration in return.
In Spain, Finance for Mortals, which brings financial education to the most disadvantaged groups, had 155 volunteer trainers from the bank in 2021 and benefited 75,320 people, 15% more than the previous year. In addition, the program reinforced its digital activity, increased its training content and expanded the groups to which it provides basic finance knowledge.
Santander Naturefor the collection of plastics and waste in natural environments throughout the Spanish geography, or woman to woman, to help and empower women victims of gender violence, are another of the many projects promoted by the bank in our country. It also has proposals to collaborate in the employment of people at risk of exclusion, support soup kitchens or accompany the elderly.
Corporate volunteering extends to all the markets in which Santander is present. For example, in Portugal, 56 bank employees participated in the Program Junior Achievement, where they shared their knowledge and experience with 997 students on topics such as citizenship, financial education and entrepreneurship. And 11 other employees participated in the program Legal pro bonowhich provided free legal assistance to the NGO two dreams.
In Latin America, Banco Santander, in collaboration with the Fideicomiso For the Children of Mexico, promoted in this country educational activities for the comprehensive development of children that benefited 5,000 people.
Another example is Chile, where volunteers from the bank trained, accompanied and motivated more than 120 adult students in the process of preparing for the exams that allow them to pass their secondary education through Santander Present.
For its part, in Argentina, around 300 group employees who are part of the Network of Financial Educators have been trained as volunteers and have given talks on financial education to young people, entrepreneurs, adults and people with disabilities. And, in Uruguay, during the past summer, employees and their families resumed cleaning the beaches of Montevideo.
Objective: reach more people
Over time, the entity has made progress in high-impact projects, multiplying aid to more people. The initiatives are mainly related to financial education, mentoring, coaching of groups at risk of exclusion, accompaniment and specific actions to collect clothes, food and toys for families in difficulty. In the last five years, Banco Santander has had an average of 50,000 volunteer employees around the world.
Since 2011, the group has had the program Committed Santander Volunteers and in 2018 it launched professional volunteering. An example is sessions. pro bono at the bank’s corporate center in Boadilla del Monte (Madrid), where bank professionals specializing in different areas (cybersecurity, human resources, communication, finance, etc.) meet with different NGOs to work on specific challenges.
Banco Santander allocated 46 million euros to social investment last year; carried out more than 1,400 collaborations with NGOs and other social entities, and helped more than 2.1 million people. The commitment to early childhood education is reflected in the fact that the group has supported more than 790,000 children and young people to access a complete and quality education. In addition, it has helped more than 1.3 million people at risk of exclusion or vulnerability.