Growthpoint Properties has helped to create real change in communities around South Africa through its year-long staff volunteerism initiative, started on Nelson Mandela International Day last year.
A year ago, Growthpoint committed to taking its impact from a symbolic 67 minutes of volunteerism on a single day to a sustainable year-round movement for good.
To achieve its target of 6,700 hours of volunteerism for everyone in the company to work towards together, Growthpoint launched Gsquared. Derived from Growthpoint Gives or G2, it is an action-orientated community engagement initiative for staff. But, Gsquared is more than a platform, it is an attitude of compounded giving.
Shawn Theunissen, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Growthpoint Properties, reports: "The meaningful impacts of Gsquared go beyond the 11 initiatives undertaken and 23 beneficiary organisations we worked with in the past year. Volunteerism helps people to see the possibilities around them. It gives them a chance to give others a hand up. It gives all Growthpoint's people the opportunity to succeed in community development. Plus, when you do good, you feel good."
By embracing 'the power of us' over the past year, Growthpoint's staff have shown just how powerful this team of awesome people can be when they come together for a good cause. They proved they're up for the challenge posed by their ambitious target.
From helping the homeless with waterproof sleeping bags to refurbishing early childhood development centres and raising funds for HIV/AIDS-related organisations, Growthpoint staff got involved in their communities.
Bringing support, service and joy to communities around South Africa, Gsquared was active from Growthpoint's three regional offices in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town. Growthpoint's CSR team and its business units also lent a hand to support its staff by providing opportunities to volunteer at various charities.
Theunissen adds: "We've learned a lot over the past year, and we want to do even better. Gsquared has proven a great way for staff members to recognise the different ways of giving; through skills, resources and money. It has helped people who really want to give, but don't know where or how, to get involved in making a positive difference.
"More than ever, we have become aware that the need is big and there is always a way in which you can give. One thing is for sure… good giving is highly contagious!"
Among the projects to which Growthpoint's staff contributed are Babies Behind Bars and The Parent Club. They made up 180 multipurpose boxes containing much-needed baby supplies for mothers living in prisons.
Compounding the spirit of volunteerism, Growthpoint staff brought their families along to a soccer clinic by former Bafana Bafana captain Neil Tovey. This included a mini-tournament for fathers and children to raise funds for Ma Africa-Bonyongo Boys soccer club in Alexandra.
Some needs require urgent action. Responding to an immediate need in its community, Durban regional staff members rallied to assist the Lakehaven Child and Youth Care Centre in Sea Cow Lake, north of Durban which suffered a devastating fire.
This is one of several instances where Growthpoint's businesses partners lent their valuable support to multiplying its positive community impacts. In this case, they helped with items such as beds, clothes, stationery and food.
Constance Sikilongo, Administrator of the Industrial sector at Growthpoint Properties, joined the Gsquared movement to help her community of Kapong, a very poor informal settlement near Ennerdale, South of Johannesburg. Using the Gsquared collection boxes placed around Growthpoint's offices, Constance and other staff members are donating blankets and warm clothing in her community this July.
Sikilongo describes why she embraced the opportunity for Gsquared to help her community: "When considering poverty, I feel deep sorrow wondering how I can make a difference. The scale of poverty is huge and we seem powerless to stop it. I realised we don't have to have a lot to make a difference; even small donations have the potential to drastically improve an individual's quality of life".
These are a few examples of Growthpoint's staff volunteerism impacts over the last year, and based on its success, Growthpoint is again targeting a year-long volunteerism drive. And, more activities are planned for the coming months. These include "Spin into Spring" in September – a spinathon to change the lives of children in rural areas. The event's proceeds will be donated to Qhubeka, a world Bicycle Relief programme dedicated to advancing education and economic opportunities by providing sustainable transportation.
Norbert Sasse, CEO of Growthpoint Properties, says: "We're incredibly proud of the help and hope Growthpoint's people have brought, and will continue to bring, to communities across South Africa with Gsquared. We care about the welfare of the communities where our staff live and where our business has an impact. Our team has shown that when we all get involved and strive towards the common goal of supporting positive change in our communities all year round, we can make it happen."