Accelerating Nonprofits and Social Businesses via Pro Bono Volunteering

In today’s world, nonprofits and social businesses stand at the forefront of advancing sustainable solutions. According to the Schwab Foundation COVID Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship 2020 report, 400 social innovators and entrepreneurs alone have improved the lives of more than 622 million people in over 190 countries globally.

Leading companies like SAP have an obligation as responsible businesses to empower and build capacity for these establishments by offering different market strategic approaches to help them grow and best meet business objectives.

The 2020-2021 global engagement cohort for the SAP Social Sabbatical program comprises a group of experts with dynamic skills and expertise who are ready to support nonprofits and social enterprises run at their best. Selected SAP employees will be placed in highly diverse teams and will dedicate their skills to solving concrete business challenges for the nonprofits selected for the assignment.

SAP Social Sabbatical is an award-winning pro bono volunteering program designed to utilize and develop SAP talent while helping nonprofit organizations and social enterprises that focus on digital inclusion run at their best. Since its inception, SAP has made an in-kind contribution of €18.8M toward the program, upskilling operational capacity of more than 414 nonprofit organizations and social enterprises globally.

Jordan-based Tech Tribes, a nonprofit supporting youth-led organizations in shaping the digital economy, is one of the beneficiaries of the program. Through design thinking sessions with SAP experts, the organization managed to successfully launch an Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) program aimed at bridging the digital divide to enhance livelihoods, create jobs, and support digital social innovations — a mission that seemed impossible prior the pro bono engagement launch.

In addition to helping organizations run better, SAP employees who have previously participated in the program acknowledge the importance of leadership development within social and nonprofit sectors and how it stays pivotal in advancing the state of the world today, especially for young people. Mike Cieri, vice president of North America Sales Learning at SAP, shared his experience while working with nonprofit Chester Country Futures, which provides academic support, mentoring, and scholarships to disadvantaged youth. “SAP Social Sabbatical allowed me to reflect and think about how there are so many things we can do if we take a step back, go back to the basics, and utilize everything we have in front of us to the fullest,” Cieri said.

Pro Bono Volunteering and Economic Equity

In recent months, the world has witnessed an incredibly fluid and challenging global crisis unfold with COVID-19, a situation that has been further complicated by social and systemic racial injustices in the U.S. As a result, SAP has expanded pro bono volunteer programing, leveraging its talent and technology expertise to foster social justice impact.

Through an economic equity program, SAP and PYXERA Global aim to support Black-owned businesses and social enterprises by leveraging corporate talent to help them to build capacity and address systemic and business challenges.

“We are investing in new programming to ensure greater opportunities for the Black community [in the United States],” said Hemang Desai, global program director for SAP Social Sabbatical. “The goal of this program is to leverage our employees’ skills and business expertise to solve critical challenges for under-represented businesses. Based on 10 years of experience in pro bono consulting, we are confident that this approach will accelerate growth for these businesses and deliver on our promise of economic equity.”

While the program accelerates nonprofits and social enterprises as part of its strategy, experiences like this reiterate how SAP employees are benefiting from the program as much as the organizations do.

To learn more about how the SAP continues to create sustainable impact and build resilient communities alongside PYXERA Global, listen to a podcast here.


Busang Maruping is a fellow with Global CSR Communications and Marketing at SAP.