TEXT Sara Elena Torres Hortal | IMAGES MAPFRE, Istock
Through MAPFRE’s Corporate Volunteering program, thousands of volunteers from our company have made a contribution to improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Over the years, MAPFRE volunteers have accrued invaluable experience and shown remarkable solidarity.
Because we have all had a time in our life when we needed help, or we will in the future. People need to take care of each other, and our volunteers, known as “people willing to help,” are an outstanding example of this charitable spirit that knows no limits. Volunteers are the heart of MAPFRE.
Our story begins in 2001, in Alianza, one of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Tres Isletas, in the Argentine region of El Chaco. Amongst dusty streets and dilapidated houses, the Centro Comunitario Jesús-María community center was founded a couple of years prior to support a population lacking in social, labor and health opportunities. This is where the Fundación MAPFRE was born and organized its first volunteering initiatives.
Fundación MAPFRE, and in particular Fundación MAPFRE Medicina, was the first entity to support this center dedicated to responding to the different needs of families whose only common features were the place where they lived, a lack of projects or expectations for the future and countless needs and emergencies.
“By creating the Social Action Institute, our aim was enhance MAPFRE’s contribution to Social development and progress, providing business resources for the direct or indirect improvement of the living conditions of the most disadvantaged individuals and groups in the countries in which MAPFRE operated. However, our aim was also to promote a volunteer movement as a way for MAPFRE employees and collaborators to participate in solidarity social action projects”
José Manuel Martínez Martínez
Honorary Chairman of MAPFRE, MAPFRE CEO (2001-2012) and Fundación MAPFRE CEO (2005-2011)
Caring for people and contributing to the well-being of society is a way of life for MAPFRE. Following the experience gained in Argentina, where specific corporate volunteer activities were being organized, in 2006 the Corporate Social Responsibility Area sewed the seeds of corporate volunteering in Spain. It was during that year that it organized several meetings for employees to find out more — directly from the social institutions themselves — about what they do, and it launched a survey to find out their degree of interest in participating in volunteering projects and to ascertain in which areas they would be willing to participate.
That same year, 2006, Fundación MAPFRE created the Social Action Institute to contribute to the development and progress of society through actions aimed at directly or indirectly improving the living conditions of the most disadvantaged people and groups. It also served as a meeting space and reference point for volunteers to channel their spirit of solidarity with the appropriate training.
This saw the dawn of a new era of volunteering at MAPFRE, when, in addition to continuing the work to finance social integration projects in Latin America, the first volunteer activities in Spain began cropping up and the spirit of helping the community began to materialize, even outside MAPFRE itself. This work was coordinated by Fundación MAPFRE with the collaboration of the MAPFRE Human Resources department.
Employees started to join these volunteering efforts to benefit people with physical and intellectual disabilities, the homeless, minors in hospital or at risk of social exclusion, environmental awareness, etc., as requested by employees.
2011. International Forming Community program pursues integrated education
2008. Project in Mexico
“I will always remember Olimpo, a boy from Paraguay who we transported to Spain for a cancer operation. Accompanying him during this process, sharing this experience with him, what he felt, the time he spent in the hospital where he unfortunately died, and then the moment of repatriating him will remain in my memory. That connection will stay with me forever.”
General Manager of the Social Action Institute (2006-2016)
At the same time, as part of a number of Fundación MAPFRE’s social projects in Latin America, MAPFRE volunteers also participated.
The volunteers who participated in these projects and activities not only highlighted the relationship that was generated with their colleagues, but also the opportunity to explore a reality in their country that they were unaware of and work together to change it. This is the nature of volunteering; it enables you make a difference in the world from within your own company, an approach that we still maintain to this day.
In 2013, the Solidarity Flea Market was born in Spain, a particularly special initiative for volunteers that is organized each year in Madrid before Christmas to raise funds and allocate them to those who are most in need.
Over the course of almost a decade, the Social Action Institute channeled the concerns of many countries that had organized small initiatives as well as the initiative of employees themselves who, individually, were already participating in other volunteer actions outside of Fundación MAPFRE.
In 2015, a new volunteering cycle at MAPFRE began. Until that date, volunteering was coordinated by Fundación MAPFRE in collaboration with the Human Resources department. It was at this time that a corporate volunteering strategy was established at MAPFRE, and the Corporate People and Organization Area took over the management of the MAPFRE Corporate Volunteering Program, once it was approved by the MAPFRE Executive Committee.
The Corporate Volunteering Committee, responsible for promoting and monitoring the correct performance of corporate volunteering, was also created.
MAPFRE’s Corporate Volunteering Program, currently up and running in 24 countries and aimed at employees and their families, establishes the common lines of action for the countries and common reporting standards that make it possible to obtain consistent data to take action and make improvements year after year. It is managed via a platform developed by Fundación MAPFRE that facilitates global monitoring.
Our Corporate Volunteering Program, organized by Fundación MAPFRE as a volunteer management institution, and which forms part of MAPFRE’s Human Resources and Sustainability strategies (#PlayingOurPart), is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); therefore, each activity contributes to one of the 169 targets of the 17 SDGs. Companies are a key agent in achieving these goals, and corporate volunteering programs are considered essential by the UN.
2009. Magic workshop at hospitals
2009. Volunteers in Oviedo, Spain
2023. Food bank served by MAPFRE volunteers in Spain
As part of this new phase, the program has evolved from the five original lines of action (Aid in emergencies, Nutrition, Education, Health and Other areas) to the six lines currently in place, which are: Health, Nutrition, Environment, Education, Share solidarity and Aid in emergencies.
Dedication to people’s well-being, the ability to listen, affection and commitment continue to define MAPFRE volunteers as part of this new phase, which has seen the number and type of activities increase. Doing so, allows volunteering to adapt to local conditions with a view to reinforcing MAPFRE’s values and strengthening a culture of participation and solidarity among employees. And all of this under the slogan “MAPFRE People. People willing to help,” which has evolved into “MAPFRE People willing to help”.
This new phase has seen the creation of important actions including:
• MAPFRE’s Global Volunteering Day, designed to reflect the global approach of our company to volunteering and to connect with society through a common cause with an impact on society. To date, these include environment, nutrition and education. The first Saturday of October has been commemorated since 2017.
• This date is in addition to International Volunteer Day, each December 5, when the international community thanks all volunteers for the time and efforts invested in helping others without expecting anything in return.
• Blood drives, which began in 2019 and in which MAPFRE volunteers participate each year to organize the drives themselves and make donations.
• The Volunteer Awards acknowledge the important work of a country each year. Since its creation, the winners have been: Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, United States and Turkey.
2013. The “Together We Are Capable” program encourages the workplace integration of people with an intellectual disability
In recent years, inequalities have increased on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, armed conflicts, climate change and an endless number of situations affecting thousands of people. To this end, MAPFRE’s Corporate Volunteering program works to alleviate these situations and build a better society for all.
In 2020, our volunteering programs shifted to prioritizing nutrition activities in response to the pandemic. The coronavirus crisis pushed many families who had never been forced to use any type of public social assistance toward the poverty line. With no income and with the operations of soup kitchens and food banks severely affected, they were unable to cover their basic needs. We organized food drives in most of the countries in which we operate: Guatemala, Chile, El Salvador, United States, Italy, Paraguay, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic and more. They all participated under the slogan “United against hunger,” as part of MAPFRE’s Global Volunteering Day that year.
In Spain, we remember a milestone achieved during this particularly unusual year: the participation of more than 400 volunteers in the preparation of 30,000 meals together with the NGO of chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen, which also collaborated in this initiative by heading up the kitchens and guiding our volunteers.
“At MAPFRE, we are extremely proud to conduct our insurance activity based on our commitment to people and our environment. Furthermore, we work diligently to improve the society in which we live. We don’t understand our business activity without working in parallel for a fairer, more sustainable, and more caring world. This is what our purpose is all about: “We care about what matters to you.” MAPFRE has been implementing these programs for many years. Volunteering helps to strengthen our culture. It’s one component of building loyalty among our employees, as working at a company with a real commitment to people and to society boosts people’s pride and sense of belonging. Elsewhere, it is undoubtedly a component of talent attraction, as people are increasingly demanding of employers, who we expect to behave in a socially responsible manner. Volunteering also helps to develop the skills and abilities of MAPFRE’s people and is a reflection of one of our values, the vocation for service. For all these reasons, volunteering is part of MAPFRE’s essence”
Chairwoman of the Corporate Volunteering Committee
In 2021, we continued with actions to alleviate basic needs, including the Food Box, aimed at reducing nutritional deficiencies in children aged between 0 and 6 in Latin America, and the Nutritional cookie, which distributed a total of two million cookies enriched with vitamins and minerals that helped cover the nutritional deficiencies of 20,000 families with dietary deficiencies in Spain
We also gradually returned to performing a greater number of activities in other areas such as health (e.g., Children’s Day in Argentina or health campaigns for children in Ecuador), education (e.g., the Best Buddies Friendship Walk in the United States or the Training in times of pandemic action in Peru) or the environment (e.g.,, a cleaning activity in Hal Gharghur, Malta, a rural area of Gharghur in “Wied Dies”, and in Honduras “Sowing the future”).
In 2022, we continued along this path to “normality.” Several activities have brought us together over the past year, for example, The Joy Box, organized on International Volunteer Day to support vulnerable people at such an important time as Christmas. A total of 12 countries participated in this activity, the joy boxes (a total of 2088) were handed over to children, the elderly, families and the homeless. Not only were the recipients happy to receive the box, they were also happy with the feeling of support and care demonstrated by our team of volunteers.
Aid in emergencies was also organized as, following the passing of Hurricane Fiona through Puerto Rico, volunteers and family members came together to help those most in need, and Share Solidarity left us with activities such as the support of the Verti team from Germany with refugees from Ukraine.
2022. Volunteers in Malta at a food truck to raise funds
2009. Activity by Fundación Caballo Amigo
What makes MAPFRE’s Corporate Volunteering Program different?
• Our program is continuous, all MAPFRE people can participate each week in different activities across the globe.
• There are both one-off and ongoing activities. An example of the latter is school support for children, as part of which volunteers teach children during the school year (in Spain); mentoring aimed at youth employability (Brazil) to place an emphasis on the educational and professional life of adolescents while offering them an opportunity to explore other ways of life; or the activities organized at Hogar San José, in Argentina, as part of which volunteers come together all year round and help the elderly in any way they need, creating a personal and emotional bond and becoming part of the family of the care home.
• The very nature of our business, being concerned for people, is a reflection of the commitment to people shown by our volunteers. These activities have an impact on and change people’s lives, because at MAPFRE, “We care about what matters to you.”
And it is because, as people, we want to spend our time doing something worthwhile that brings us joy. When it comes to choosing where to invest our professional and personal time, we want to do it in a place that has a clear purpose, and we want to know that our work has meaning, because at “MAPFRE, every minute you invest becomes meaningful.”
An approach that all groups, from the elderly to young people, value and that volunteering provides.
What does volunteering do?
Volunteers are the stars of this show; they were back in 2001 and continue to be stars now, in 2023. Participating in volunteering activities allows you to:
• Develop your social abilities through programs adapted to the different needs of each environment
• Benefit from a different experience and understand your role at the company
• Make a positive impact on your environment
• Be proud to form part of something while promoting teamwork and integration in the company
• Get back more than you give
Interested in becoming a MAPFRE volunteer?
Sign up at voluntariosfundacionmapfre.org, which you can access from the People Space and from the People App.
Volunteers from MAPFRE Argentina at the Hogar San José care home
In Spain, the Drawing Smiles initiative
2017. World Volunteer Day, Argentina