We’ve been based in Berlin since 2018. It’s a beautiful and diverse city, and like many of its size, is one that struggles with significant social issues, ranging from homelessness to social inequality. We’re proud that many Kolibris show awareness of these issues and want to be more engaged in their community. That’s why we created an initiative to help make our city a better place for everybody, and offer Kolibris the opportunity to give back to our local community alongside their colleagues.
Our first step in launching our company-wise volunteering initiative was researching and selecting a partner organization to work with. After assessing various NPO’s, we found a great partner in Vostel, who help us by finding and connecting us directly to organizations that need support. The person responsible for launching our social impact initiative, and our main organizer, is Panos, our Brand Lead. Read on to find out what he has to say about the program and to hear from some Kolibris talking about their experience as volunteers.
Bringing Kolibris together for a good cause
I met the Vostel team through my personal volunteering experience and was quite impressed by their projects. They’ve been working with other tech companies and start-ups before, so I got the idea to get Kolibri Games involved as well. They are very connected to different communities in Berlin and drive impactful projects. I noticed our Kolibri’s desire to be more engaged in social matters outside of work, many of them having recently moved to Berlin.
When I pitched the idea to the leadership team, they were very receptive and onboard right away. One thing to keep in mind is that the program is not only beneficial for the local community, but it helps with team building at the same time and strengthening the bond with our company’s values. People from different teams come together, who usually don’t have a lot of contact in their day-to-day work – something that also played a role during the pandemic. We don’t have one specific goal in mind like a set point of projects or participants. I see our collaboration more as a constant progression by activating more and more Kolibris each time and therefore growing the program to generate a bigger impact on our local community.
Giving back during the pandemic
Our first project happened in the winter of 2019 and since then I was able to organize an event each quarter, even during lockdown times and remote work. Our first event was very special because we invited a group of children to our office for some crafting time. They painted some of our game characters on canvasses, and the portraits are hanging in our office building to this day. Another memorable project was the sandwich-making event, which we did right before lockdown. It was our last time collaborating all together in a fully non-remote indoor event, bringing people from all departments together to make sandwiches for a local homeless shelter.
You can visit our social impact page to learn more about Kolibri Games’ efforts.
Of course, the pandemic brought on some challenges, but together with Vostel we’ve found some creative solutions to still be active and carry on the initiative during the pandemic. For example, for one project during last year’s holiday season, we could come to the office to pick up supplies for packing gift bags for children in refugee shelters and then pack them individually at home. Even though the social aspect was limited due to the lockdown, participation was high and we managed to surpass our target of gift boxes.
“I find that volunteering is such an easy way of building community and becoming more a part of where you live instead of just “visiting”. I think that in a city like Berlin where people are constantly coming and going, it’s a really great way of saying, “this is my home and I want to take care of it.” – Greg, Web Developer
I would recommend this to every company out there. Even if it seems challenging to free up the time and resources. It takes some sustained effort, but it is more than rewarding, and internal feedback, as well as the response from affected communities, has been amazing. Doing good not only simply feels good, but makes us happier and more content as a person.
For us, we announce each event in our weekly company presentations and in our Slack channel. Most of the time, word travels fast, and word-of-mouth seems to be the trick here. Kolibris who have participated in an event and enjoyed it, recommend it to others and bring new people to the next one. We’ve seen everyone, from leadership to interns participate, and at most events we’ve had up to 20 people join us (also considering social distancing and hygiene regulations in the past months).
“My favorite volunteering events so far have been the canal clean-ups, because it’s something quite different, and you can see a very noticeable and immediate effect. You feel the weight of the things you’re collecting, you see the clean sidewalks, and you see the way passers-by react and chat to you about what you’re doing. It’s such a comparatively small amount of time and effort for the volunteers but has an incredibly positive, and often lasting impact on the recipients. Plus, with Kolibri/Vostel events there’s usually the social and/or food element to enjoy!” – Lauren, Head of Community Management
Just last week, we held a virtual job training workshop for students of the ReDI School of Digital Integration, a non-profit school in Berlin helping underprivileged students with skills in tech. We helped students with their CVs, provided career advice and empowered them to get their careers started. I’m excited to see what’s all to come out of this project in the future. My plan is definitely to hold events even more frequently and get more new faces involved.
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