When SAP initially signed on as co-founder of IMPACT 2030 nine months ago, no organization had re-examined how the private sector could shake up traditional employee volunteering to impact some of the most complex problems in the world.

Now this private sector partnership is helping transform SAP’s entire volunteering strategy from solid local initiatives to highly scalable, cost-effective, global programs. The objective is to have the greatest impact on today’s toughest challenges, namely the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and address climate change.

“There’s incredible value in looking at new ways the private sector can contribute to our sustainable development goals through corporate volunteering on a global scale,” said Alexandra van der Ploeg, Corporate Social Responsibility, Global Corporate Affairs at SAP and IMPACT 2030 Executive Committee member. “With this initiative, companies everywhere, regardless of size and location, can join and drive corporate volunteering, aligning it to directly support the achievement of global sustainable development goals.”

IMPACT 2030 originated as a declaration passed by the UN to expand the private sector’s role in achieving the SDGs. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is also among the forward-thinking co-founders.

“IMPACT 2030 aims to convene hundreds of partner companies, mobilize private sector volunteer networks around the world, and collaborate with a wide-range of stakeholders,” said Sue Stephenson, Vice President of Community Footprints at The Ritz-Carlton and Vice Chair of the IMPACT 2030 Executive Committee. “We want to expand the practice of volunteering, building on the strong programs many companies already have.”

Whether a member company is global or not, Stephenson said their employees can expect a broad array of opportunities to work on projects with other organizations to address the SDGs most relevant to their local area. “Some places might be focused on clean water and sanitation, while others might focus on hunger and poverty, depending on the need,” said Stephenson.

United by a Common Purpose: Greater Impact

IMPACT 2030 is off to a fast start having asked member companies to map employee volunteer efforts to at least one SDG. “The benefit of having 17 goals has worked well because the issues our members are focused on are already embedded in the SDGs,” said Stephenson. “Educating employees about the SDGs helps people directly connect their volunteering to critical global concerns that all 193 UN member states have targeted for change.”

Indeed, van der Ploeg said SAP’s priority CSR objectives equipping young people with the skills needed to tackle society’s problems and thrive in the digital economy are perfectly aligned with the SDGs.

Collaboration Taps the Power of Many

IMPACT 2030 will also provide cross-industry and cross-agency collaboration. Participating employees will interact with a variety of stakeholders such as NGOs, philanthropic organizations, the public sector and academia. Overall, program focus is on replicating success through shared best practices and the creation of new joint programs.

For example, IMPACT 2030 reflects SAP’s longstanding innovative approach to give back to the community through its employees, which includes the company’s Month of Service. The company is piloting a local version of its acclaimed Social Sabbatical program to foster the collaborative volunteering model. The Social Sabbatical for Local Engagement pilot in Madrid will bring teams of employees from both SAP, as well as other private and non-profit organizations in that city, to deliver pro bono support for businesses. “We want to develop this as a model that other IMPACT 2030 partners can use and apply in their organizations, and that we can replicate in other locations,” said van der Ploeg.


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Jim Tubman, a Senior Support Consultant at SAP based in Ireland, kept a video (above) diary of his experience in Kenya on an SAP Social Sabbatical.

Similar to SAP, Stephenson said The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has a long-time ethos focused on skills-based employee volunteering to address hunger, poverty, children and education, and the environment.

“We’re in the service industry, and service to the community is part of that commitment. This initiative is a natural evolution, aligning our volunteering with universal sustainable goals,” said Stephenson. “With locations worldwide, this is an opportunity to let our employees see that their contributions to local communities are part of a much bigger movement in which they can play an important role effecting change.”

Volunteering Toward a More Sustainable Future

Although the current 30 members of IMPACT 2030 hail from companies in North America and Europe, the intent is for full global representation including China, India, Latin America and Africa. The organization is also deeply committed to results, and is in the early stages of exploring methodologies for capturing volunteering metrics and measuring program impact. Corporations address complex business issues every day. With IMPACT 2030, employees can tackle community service on a global scale initiating lasting change in an increasingly complex world.

Related Content: Finding More Meaningful, Effective Corporate Volunteering

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