What is Sabancı Volunteers Programme?

Sabancı Holding always emphasizes the significance of solidarity and unity when determining common priorities, constantly encourages innovation and participation while generating sustainable solutions to tackle various major social and environmental problems. Sabancı Holding also believes that unleashing the tremendous potential of employee volunteering is of crucial importance in the process of sustainable development.

The Sabancı Volunteers Program was initiated in 2015 to strengthen the bond between employees and Group companies, enhance employee social awareness and create activities beneficial to society. The Sabancı Volunteers program carried out worthwhile projects which have touched the lives of thousands of people all over Turkey throughout 2021.

The ‘Tomorrow Is Ours’ Project 

While continuing to raise awareness of the importance of volunteering in Turkey and providing solutions to a variety of social problems, Sabancı Volunteers launched a significant social responsibility project under the banner of ‘Tomorrow Is Ours’, on 7 April to ensure a better future for the children and siblings of healthcare workers, who have been the key heroes of the pandemic. The ‘Tomorrow Is Ours’ project aims to prepare these young people for every aspect of their adult lives, with the program also providing them with the tools to achieve their career goals. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, the stressful nature of their parents’ work and the difficulties of online education exacerbated the pressure on these young people while they prepared for their university entrance exams. Therefore, Sabancı Holding decided to support these young people, who represent the ‘future’ of healthcare, by bringing this ambitious project to life.

The ‘Tomorrow Is Ours’ project was founded on two programs which represent parallel pillars which when combined provide vital support; a ‘mentoring program’ and a ‘career development program’. The project’s first step was to match the students with the most suitable ‘mentors’ from a pool of Sabancı Group employees. A total of 626 Sabancı Volunteers mentored 698 young people from 65 Turkish provinces in the project’s first phase. It was decided that the best way for Sabancı Group employees from different sectors and opinion leader mentors to contribute to the success of these young people would be to share their broad knowledge and extensive experience in constructive online meetings while accompanied by their mentees.

Furthermore, an online platform including videos in various fields such as personal development, professional and skills development, career planning, social sensitivity, and sports was launched so that the mentees could benefit in their own time.

In the second phase of the project, which featured online training and webinars, the young people were provided with the knowledge and competencies to support their future careers and personal development in the healthiest, most productive ways possible. Appropriate workshops with themes such as personal awareness, motivation, emotional awareness, stress management, communication, relationships and boundaries were created to support the psychological well‑being of these young people. In addition, workshops and group studies utilizing psychotherapeutic methods were held online. During this process, along with the training videos provided by the Sabancı Group companies, a career support program was implemented by the Sabancı University Career Development and Internship Office. In addition, Sabancı University faculty members and graduates provided departmental and other professional presentations.

Medicine and engineering were the leading programs selected by the young people participating in the project, followed by law and psychology. Istanbul, Boğaziçi, METU, Sabancı, Akdeniz and Ege Universities, as well as Cerrahpaşa and Hacettepe Universities, were among the most popular universities.

The second phase of the project, which commenced in September 2021 with 500 young people and 500 mentors, aims to increase self‑awareness and social awareness by teaching ‘Youth responsibility’.

During this part of the program, which was inspired by the virtues of responsible citizenship, the importance of volunteering was effectively conveyed to the young people in attendance, individuals will eventually be accountable for building a better future for us all. In addition, those who participated in the volunteering workshops also received training on waste management, social enterprise and digital literacy.

Sabancı Republic Day Campaign

The Sabancı Volunteers carried out a one‑of‑a‑kind campaign effort to mark the 98th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey. As a pioneer in sustainability, Sabancı Group launched Sabancı Republic Day Campaign to ensure a better future for the new generation as well as the environment and for all living things, and of course, to defend the legacy of Atatürk.

For 13 days between 29 October and 10 November, all participating Sabancı Volunteers not only celebrated the proclamation of the Republic, but they also kept the spirit of the Republic alive with their own significant volunteering efforts. On 10 November, we presented all our volunteer work to Great Leader Atatürk and commemorated him by working.

With this massive campaign involving more than 60,000 employees and stakeholders, which started in Adana and subsequently traveled to 11 other Turkish cities including Aydın, Aksaray, Ankara, Antalya, Balıkesir, Bursa, Çanakkale, İstanbul, Kocaeli and Mersin, the Sabancı Group was able to truly embody the great spirit of the Republic.

The chief aim of this campaign, which was first announced at a press conference held on 27 October in the village of Kızlarsekisi in the Kozan district of Adana, where the first of the devastating summer fires broke out last July, was to bring relief to the widespread suffering caused by the destructive environmental disasters which hit many areas of Turkey. 

This campaign, which involved extensive soil revitalization, large scale tree‑planting schemes, the renovation of schools and a wide array of environmental activities from cleaning to supporting biodiversity, was carried out on an entirely voluntary basis.

Sabancı Volunteers devoted 35,000 hours of volunteering in the field over 13 days, estimated to be the equivalent of 1,458 days of work - or, in simpler terms, four years of work. More than 5,000 trees were planted over the course of 13 days with a further 200,000 planted by the end of the year. In Adana, where the first forest fires broke out, 4,200 income‑generating trees were fertilized and the soil was successfully revitalized over an area of 8.5 hectares with 8.5 tonnes of fertilizer, while 750 kg of waste was collected in Büyükada alone, consisting of 500 kg of packaging and 250 kg of non‑recyclable wastes. Meanwhile, 400 kg of plastic packaging waste and 100 kg of other varieties of packaging (glass, metal, paper, cardboard and composites) were recycled into the economy. The 500 kg of packaging waste sent for recycling prevented half a tonne of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. Nearly 100 beehives were distributed. Dozens of houses, schools and barns were renovated, and 18 new barns were built from scratch. Hundreds of tables, chairs and books were donated to schools. In addition, dozens of bicycles were assembled, tablets were widely distributed to students and dozens of temporary homes were constructed. Thousands of aid boxes were prepared for children suffering from leukemia. Nearly two tonnes of food was distributed to street animals, and over than 200 shelters were built.

Embracing the late Hacı Ömer Sabancı’s life philosophy of “Sharing what we have obtained from this land with its people”, the Sabancı Group aims to further expand its campaign efforts across Turkey in 2023, which will fittingly be the 100th anniversary of the Republic.

A clutch of domestic and international awards

Sabancı Volunteers received a number of notable awards from the most prestigious Turkish and International organizations in recognition of their work. 

Sabancı Group was awarded the International Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Excellence Award in 2020 and 2021 with its Sabancı Volunteers program at the award ceremonies held in London. The Sabancı Group was also handed an important prize in the ‘Best Social Responsibility Practice’ category at the Green World Awards in the UK from The Green Organization, one of the most prestigious international award organizations which was established to promote, reward, and develop the most successful environmental practices around the world.

Sabancı Volunteers was handed the ‘Most Successful Volunteering Project’ award at the 14th Awards from the Heart this year by the Private Sector Volunteers Association (ÖSGD) in recognition of the Group’s ‘Tomorrow Is Ours’ project. The ‘Awards from the Heart’, among most sought after awards in its field, have been held since 2007 to support and extend volunteering activities in the private sector and reward volunteer groups which provide noteworthy contributions to society. 

Finally, Sabancı Group was the only company invited from Turkey and the surrounding region to the meeting held by the United Nations in 2020 to support volunteering activities throughout the world, selected among the examples of ‘best practice’ in recognition of its Sabancı Volunteers program.