The first joint volunteering day of the Business Leaders Forum* (BLF) Serbia "Our Belgrade" gathered on 6th of June more than 250 volunteering employees of the BLF member companies. The aim of "Our Belgrade", the first event of the kind in Serbia, was to promote the concept of corporate volunteering among Serbian businesses.
The Business Leaders Forum will organize such an event once a year, and will be active in setting up similar corporate volunteering activities in towns across Serbia. “Our Belgrade” was supported by USAID, Institute for Sustainable Communities, The Balkan Trust for Democracy, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Royal Netherlands Embassy, City of Belgrade through its Agency for cooperation with NGOs and European harmonization and by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. It was implemented in partnership with the Youth Non-governmental Organization (ONO), the Young Researches of Serbia and the Center for Youth Integration.
In a cheerful atmosphere, volunteers spent their Saturday taking part in various activities targeting childcare, social, or environmental issues in seven different locations. Volunteers from Holcim, British American Tobacco, Droga Kolinska, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Lafarge took part in cleaning the protected natural reserve “Veliko ratno ostrvo” from waste, while other volunteers from Philip Morris, Coca-Cola Hellenic and PricewaterhouseCoopers worked on arranging the yard of the elderly center „Bežanijska kosa”.
Some volunteers from US Steel, Société Générale bank, British American Tobacco, Droga Kolinska and PricewaterhouseCoopers spent their day painting the facilities of a primary school for blind children, while others took part in creative workshops with children with mental disabilities, or visited the zoo with street-involved children. The Minister of labour and social affairs Rasim Ljajić also volunteered for “Our Belgrade”, as well as many BLF member-companies’ CEO’s, joint by city officials and celebrities.
The Business benefits of volunteering
Although the concept of corporate volunteering is widely recognized as a successful form of investment in company’s employees, it is almost unknown in Serbia. Studies show indeed that employees who work in companies that have developed volunteering programs show better results, and are more satisfied and more loyal to their company. Contributing to social causes with voluntary work creates and strengthens relations with the local community, clients and employees, and positions the company as a reliable and accountable partner. Volunteering programs also create better team spirit, and enable companies to attract and keep the best-skilled employees.
With activities like “Our Belgrade”, the Business Leaders Forum Serbia aims at motivating all companies in Serbia to embrace corporate volunteering and to implement such programs on a regular basis, so both the community and the companies’ employees can benefit from it.