To help launch SAP’s 16th annual global Month of Service campaign, CEO Christian Klein shared an email with employees around the world and offered this consideration:

“This year has pushed us all to reflect on the meaning of solidarity and community, and to consider the opportunity we have – as individuals and as a company – to create a world with equality, freedom, and prosperity for all.”

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has changed the world around us. Long-standing traditions, habits, and behaviors were suddenly challenged, and we were all forced to adapt and evolve accordingly. It was difficult, yes, but it also created opportunities for us to take pause and to consider new paths forward. It provided the space to reflect on the role that we can each play to influence positive change in our communities – to reflect, as Klein noted, on what community means to us.

Now is truly the time for digital connections and conversations across borders; for simultaneously a broader and a narrower definition of community. And in order to solve the big, critical social issues that plague us all but hit vulnerable communities the hardest, the world needs to come together and unite for our future.

The notion of uniting for our future became the theme of our global Month of Service campaign this year. It was also the driving force behind the evolution of the initiative as we explored new ways to offer SAP’s 100,000-strong employee base opportunities to feel more connected to our legacy of social impact and focus on purpose. The campaign has a long legacy of offering employees worldwide the chance to turn purpose into action through volunteerism. This year, through both volunteerism and dialogue, we curated a unique experience for employees to engage with each other, support the communities that need it most, and learn more about the social issues in which SAP invests.

Four Weeks, Four Powerful Themes

With limited opportunities to gather in person, the employee enthusiasm for volunteering that we see each October needed a new point of focus. The new goal during Month of Service was to help connect the dots for employees on SAP’s work in the social impact space.

To that end, 56 live sessions and panels of education, enablement, and awareness building were offered over four weeks. The content was organized around four high-level themes, with each one tied to a critical social issue that SAP has taken on. The first week of October focused on equality for all, followed by conversations around building a digitally inclusive workforce in week two. Week three offered exchange around cultivating climate action and the month closed with discussions about promoting inclusive, diverse and social entrepreneurship.

The more than 50 virtual sessions hosted throughout the month offered opportunities to spotlight some of the incredible change-makers, nonprofits, and social enterprises that SAP invests in and works with around the world. We also focused on bringing together community leaders from inside and outside SAP to help set the context for employees on how these four social issues impact communities across the globe, as well as to showcase how we, as a company, uniquely contribute to solutions and demonstrate our leadership in these areas.

Engaging and impassioned conversations were held with SAP executives — including Adaire Fox-Martin, member of the Executive Board; Claudio Muruzabal, president of EMEA South and chairman of SAP Latin America and Caribbean; Cathy Smith, managing director of SAP Africa; and Sindhu Gangadharan, managing director of SAP Labs India — along with external speakers such as Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus; Nile Rodgers, co-founder and chair of the We Are Family Foundation; Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of Acumen; and Hugh Evans, co-founder and CEO of Global Citizen. SAP employees were able to better connect with the company’s mission to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.

2020 Numbers at a Glance

  • 56 live sessions and panels
  • 10,000 sign-ups
  • 207,000 hours of employee learning

Volunteering Redefined 

In 2019, a year unburdened by a global health pandemic, 20,000 SAP employees dedicated their time in support of volunteer programs and signature initiatives. Despite 2020’s difficult circumstances, our commitment to help the world run better and improve people’s lives has not waivered. This year, we embraced the need to adapt, expanding our existing efforts to support virtual volunteerism. Through our global employee engagement platform, SAP Together, employees were encouraged to explore volunteer activities taking place around the world and to consider making one-time or recurring personal donations to charities worldwide.

SAP encourages employees to engage in year-round service to causes they care about. Since the beginning of the year, SAP employees have supported nearly 200 virtual volunteer opportunities — defying borders, geographical distances, and time zones to connect with their peers, social enterprises, and nonprofits globally.

One example is Africa Code Week, where close to 200 SAP employees from four different regions provided virtual train-the-trainer workshops in coding to African teachers. For participants, what may have started as a combination of excitement and hesitation grew into recognition that it is possible to make a real impact from your computer, and that it can be just as powerful to lend your time and talents to causes across an ocean as it is to those closer to home.

Giving is not limited to material possessions, but also one’s time and skills. This year, Month of Service also focused on skills-based volunteering. Employees forged bonds and made connections across borders in these digital times where geographical distance could not impede to volunteerism. Social enterprises and nonprofits benefited from new virtual pro-bono volunteering models tapping into the expertise that SAP employees bring, while employees could connect to their purpose.

One of these new models was the Health Systems Challenge, for which SAP employees teamed up with employees from customers and partners to address the gap in telehealth services available in low-income U.S. communities, which was further exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At SAP, we believe that people are an incredibly powerful force for change. We believe in connecting to something bigger than ourselves and in focusing what we do best on what we can do for others. Our global Month of Service campaign is steeped in a long company tradition of volunteering side-by-side, but this year, with everything flipped on its head, it became an opportunity for employees to take time to listen and to learn together. And as a community of 100,000 global citizens, we are better for it.