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Interview with Stephanie Frost from vostel about Scout24 and corporate volunteering

This year, Scout24 launched its Scout24 Social Summer for the first time, where Scouts can spend up to eight (8) working hours from end of June until mid of September to support a local social organisation whether individually, digitally or from home. From providing active support in finding accommodation for refugees to holding a workshop on career entry for unemployed young people to working as web analysts: There are many projects for our Scouts to choose from thanks to vostel. Vostel is an online volunteering platform that brings volunteers and non-profit-organisations together, and provides corporate volunteering opportunities for companies. To learn more about this social enterprise and the opportunities of our Scouts, we spoke to Stephanie Frost, Founder and Managing Director at vostel.

Thanks for your time Stephanie. We'd love to learn more about vostel and the impact you're making. Firstly, could you please introduce yourself and tell us more about what vostel is?  

Stephanie: Hi, my name is Stephanie Frost and together with my co-founder Hanna Lutz I started vostel.de in 2015. Vostel.de is a digital volunteering platform that connects people who seek volunteering opportunities with NPOs (non- profit organisations) who need voluntary support. With vostel.de we want to enable more people, regardless of how much time they have, what language they speak or what skills they bring with them, to contribute to a better, more sustainable future. Since our founding, we have been able to match over 13,300 volunteers with more than 600 social organisations within 8 cities of Germany. In addition, we support companies to plan and implement rewarding corporate volunteering activities. 

What is "corporate volunteering" and what does it mean for businesses? 

Stephanie: "Corporate volunteering" describes the active involvement of employees as volunteers within non-profit organisations during their working hours. This can be done on an individual level or as a team/department and even as a whole company. The benefits of corporate volunteering on businesses are vast: from personnel developments, employee retention, employer attractiveness up to branding and marketing. 

Why is "corporate volunteering" important - and how can it be helpful and meaningful for the supported organisations in your network? 

Stephanie: The supported organisations profit from the extra wo*manpower and skills that the employees bring. The support can be very hands-on, like renovating a common room, building pallet-furniture or re-designing a garden or rather skill-based such as getting help from experts in areas as graphic design, SEO optimisation or legal advice - always depending on the needs of the social organisation. In doing so, projects can be implemented with the help of corporate volunteers that would otherwise be too costly or time-consuming.  Additionally, corporate volunteering creates a new channel for our partner organisations to advertise their own mission and eventually to acquire long term volunteers. 

What does the cooperation between vostel and Scout24 look like? How will this program work for our Scouts? 

Stephanie: On the platform scout24.vostel.de, every Scout has the possibility to register as a volunteer. Once registration is done, the Scouts can search for suitable volunteering opportunities. As soon as a Scout has found something attractive, s*he can get in contact with the NPO and clarify when and how the volunteering activity will proceed. Additionally, the vostel.de team will assist the Scouts if any questions arise, will publish new volunteering opportunities regularly and is happy to consult Scouts in terms of social team events. 

What kind of organisations and projects can our Scouts support with vostel? How does vostel work together with these social organisations? And can those participating, such as our Scouts, provide feedback on their experience? 

Stephanie: As a team, we are constantly in contact with the social organisations registered on vostel.de. We monitor their needs, we consult them in volunteer management and take care that all published volunteering opportunities are described in detail and well understandable. The projects on vostel.de are diverse and range from pro bono activities such as marketing support or website testing to taking part in language cafés, supporting refugees with finding an apartment or writing letters to elderly people. After each volunteering activity, the Scouts can provide feedback on their experiences, which is used to optimise them. We also collect feedback from our social partner organisations to make sure that the help gets to where it's needed. 

What is the greatest benefit someone participating in a volunteering opportunity via vostel can gain from the experience? And for the organisation?  

Stephanie: Well, this is very individual and differs from person to person, but I would say that the greatest benefit is the insight that is gained through visiting and working with a NPO. Through volunteering, people have the chance to dive into a different world, meet new people, see other work places and expand their knowledge about certain topics and social challenges. For the social organisations, the greatest benefit differs from project to project, sometimes it is the financial relief, sometimes rather the Wo*men-Power, but one of the biggest benefits is definitely when someone wants to volunteer after the initial project and comes back. 

What is your hope for the future of "corporate volunteering" in general?  

Stephanie: My hope is that more and more companies realise how beneficial a synergy between the non-profit and for-profit sector is and are willing to develop coherent and well thought through programs. It would be great if Corporate Volunteering would really be seen as a part of the strategy and not just a marketing measure. 

Thank you, Stephanie, for your time and for this great cooperation! We are looking forward to a summer full of interesting and meaningful projects.  

If you want to know more about vostel, check out their blog blog-stel

https://www.scout24.com/news-medien/magazin/detail/interview-with-stephanie-frost-from-vostel-about-corporate-volunteering
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2020-07-22
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